Born to Coach Black and Gold
The 2010–11 Huskies have put together thirty-one wins, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, and the school’s third straight NCAA Midwest Regional Championship.
Now they’ll play the biggest game in school history.
But with zero returning starters and a first-year head coach, who saw this coming?
Kim Cameron did.
“We knew we had a lot of talent on the roster,” she said. “We just needed to trust and believe in each other.”
The thought of playing for a national title was probably the furthest thing from Cameron’s thoughts, however, in the minutes and hours following her collegiate head coaching debut at Notre Dame on November 2.
The Division I power Fighting Irish had just handed her Huskies a 102–30 loss in a preseason exhibition—not how she had envisioned her first game at the helm of one of the most successful Division II women’s basketball programs in the country.
Despite the tough start, she still knew she was in the right place.
“I believe in everything the Huskies stand for,” said Cameron. “This is a great school with great people and a great women’s basketball tradition. I want to give others the same experiences I had as a student-athlete.
“I can’t imagine anyone else doing this job.”
That confident mind-set wasn’t yet in place when an 18-year-old Cameron opted to follow her older brother, Matt, in playing basketball at Michigan Tech.
“I cried the whole way here when my parents brought me to campus as a freshman,” said the Alpena native. “They just left me, but they knew that was the right thing to do.
“It took less than a day to know this was where I was supposed to be.”
Cameron said then–head coach Darla Olson and assistant coach Sara Ferris made the transition an easy one, checking in daily to make sure everything was going well.
Kim spent 2001–05 as a role player in the Huskies lineup, helping Tech compile a 71–42 record with a trip to the NCAA Tournament her senior season.
John Barnes took over as coach for Cameron’s final two seasons and hired the fresh college graduate with a bachelor’s in business administration as his assistant coach in 2005.
The next five years were some of the most successful in school history. Barnes and Cameron recruited four eventual one-thousand-point scorers and posted a 119–36 record. Tech advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight each of the last two seasons with a combined 58 wins.
When Barnes announced he was leaving for Wisconsin in June, Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret handed Cameron the top job. She began as head coach on June 17.
Michigan Tech bounced back from the game at Notre Dame (which would go on to play for the Division I national championship) and felt the sting of defeat only twice in twenty-five regular season games.
The Huskies’ postseason run began with three home wins in the GLIAC Tournament. The Black and Gold went on to host the NCAA Midwest Regional.
After a 69–57 victory over University of Wisconsin–Parkside, Cameron cut down the nets for the Huskies’ third straight regional title. Tech became the first team from the Midwest to win three consecutive regional crowns.
The team peaked at the right time, playing its best basketball of the season at the Elite Eight. The Huskies upset No. 1–ranked Arkansas Tech 69–58 in the national quarterfinal before sealing the best season in school history with an 89–78 victory over Northwest Missouri State in the semifinal game.
The run did not last. Tech ran into a talented Clayton State team in the title game and was defeated 69-50 in front of a national television audience on ESPN2.
“The experience of playing in the championship game was awesome,” said Cameron. “Not a lot of teams get a chance to do that. I think we learned a lot, and we still have things to improve upon so we’re ready to win a national championship next time we get the chance.”
Cameron, 27, was named GLIAC and Midwest Region Coach of the Year. Still, she knows it’s about more than winning.
“I want to be a positive influence for the student-athletes I recruit to Michigan Tech,” she said. “I want this program to be one that the University and community are proud of.”
That demands success on court and in the classroom. This year’s team boasts a 3.64 GPA with every player on the roster above a 3.0.
As far as the future, Cameron says, “My goal is to learn and get better every day. That’s what I try to do, and what I expect from my team. Work to get better each day.”
There are no doubt more unforgettable moments to come.
Ever wonder how they do that?
Two shooting stars break down the moves that brought the Huskies to St. Joe.
How to make a three-pointer
by Sam Hoyt, guard
There are a lot of things to think about when shooting a three-pointer. When you catch the ball, the first thing to think about is getting your feet square to the basket and far enough apart so you have good balance.
Then, make sure the seams are lined up (meaning the lines on the ball are perpendicular to your fingers).
Next, get the ball in the correct position so you can shoot it. This differs from person to person, but I like to put it in front of my right shoulder. That way I have everything I need lined up (my right foot, my right elbow, the ball, and my eye).
After that, bend your knees and then jump up to shoot. As you jump, you will start to raise the ball and extend your shooting arm completely, finishing with the follow through (snapping your wrist downward).
Then the ball swishes through the net! Just remember, it takes a lot of practice, but if you work hard at it, you can become a great shooter.
How to shoot a lay-up
by Lisa Staehlin, center
The lay-up is the easiest shot in basketball.
The footwork is the trickiest part. Normally, taking more than one step is whistled as a traveling violation, but lay-ups allow you to take one and one-half steps. If you are shooting a right-handed lay-up, the left foot is planted on the ground, and as your right arm goes up to shoot, the right knee is elevated. Raising the right knee accounts for the extra half step. These steps allow you to balance yourself and have an explosive jump toward the hoop. The same procedure follows for the left-handed side, with the right foot planted and the left knee elevated.
Once your footwork is correct, you have to have a good angle at the backboard. Nearly all lay-ups use the backboard for a nice, soft bank shot. It is important to be on one side of the basket and aim for the top corner of the white square on the glass.
Post players play right under the basket, so they shoot most of their shots as lay-ups. The most common, and arguably the easiest, post move near the basket is called a drop-step. This uses a power dribble towards the baseline, making a strong, aggressive move with the basketball. Moves such as this bring you close enough to the basket to shoot a lay-up.
Basketball players must be comfortable shooting with either hand when close to the basket. Experienced players can also choose to shoot reverse lay-ups as well.
The lay-up is one of the highest percentage shots to take. So if you have the urge to pick up a basketball, practicing the lay-up is the best place to start.