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Elite Eight not foreign territory to Norse

Northern Kentucky in tournament for third time in four years

By Guy N. Limbeck

glimbeck@postbulletin.com

Despite coaching the NCAA Division II national champions two years ago, Nancy Winstel isn't making any bold predictions for this week's Elite Eight tournament.

Winstel will guide Northern Kentucky (26-6) into the Elite Eight for the third time in four years. The only time the Norse missed in that span was in 2001 and that's when they had all five starters back from the 2000 national championship team.

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"There was a lot of pressure for us to do well last year," Winstel said. "(This year) we just want to take them one game at a time and not look ahead."

Winstel says winning one national title doesn't guarantee success this time around at the Elite Eight.

"It's only an advantage if you make it one," the coach said. "But we have so many new people."

The Norse have just one starter back from last year, and the 2000 national championship, team. But that is Michelle Cottrell, a two-time All-American. The 5-foot-11 senior is Northern Kentucky's all-time leading scorer with 2,212 points heading into Elite Eight play.

"We do have a very, very good player in Michelle Cottrell," Winstel admitted, "but we don't try and make her do everything."

Cottrell averages 19.3 points and 9.0 rebounds a game, but is hardly a one-woman team. The Norse have four other players who contributed a great deal to the 2000 title team. Bridget Flanagan, at 13 points a game, and Amy Mobley, at 11.6, also average in double figures while three other players score between 8.3 and 9.7 points a game.

"We have a lot of good players and they know their role," Winstel said. "On any given night we have players who can step up."

Northern Kentucky likes to run on offense when given the opportunity, but the Norse are also dangerous in the half-court game. The Norse feature good size as five of their top six scorers are between 5-11 and 6-3. Dana Schubeler, a 6-3 senior center, is a transfer from Division I Butler.

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Winstel said she has 10 players who will dress for the tournament and all 10 usually see playing time in games. The coach said the key for the Norse in the tournament will be to play good defense, rebound and not commit turnovers.

"It's going to be a tough challenge," Winstel said. "We just want to go out and represent our region."

The Norse open with South Dakota State in the national quarterfinals on Wednesday.

BOX: Nancy Winstel's coaching record at Northern Kentucky:

1983-84 17-10

; 1984-85 19-9

; 1985-86 22-6

; 1986-87 25-5

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; 1987-88 25-3

; 1988-89 21-7

; 1989-90 20-7

; 1990-91 22-6

; 1991-92 19-9

; 1992-93 19-8

; 1993-94 20-7

; 1994-95 18-9

; 1995-96 18-9

; 1996-97 17-10

; 1997-98 18-10

; 1998-99 30-3

; 1990-00 32-2

; 2000-01 25-5

; 2001-02 26-6

; Overall 413-131

; Advanced to NCAA Final Four in 1986-87 and 1998-99; won national championship in 1999-00.

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