By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
It was late in Monday’s practice when new coach Emilee Thiesse stopped her Minnesota State women’s basketball team and told all the players to relax and take a deep breath
“I think I needed that as a much as they did,” Thiesse said. “I kept telling them in the huddle to not get discouraged. It’s just the first day of practice.”
Monday was the first official practice day for women’s basketball, and it was also Thiesse’s first practice as the Mavericks’ coach. Thiesse was hired just two months ago, and she said it’s been a smooth transition.
“The players have been awesome,” she said. “They’ve embraced a new coach and new concepts. We’re still getting to know each other.”
Thiesse has been an assistant for eight seasons, with two stints at South Dakota State and another at Drake. And even though she’s run countless drills and organized many practices, there’s still something different when you’re the loudest voice.
“There’s always an energy that you get the first day of practice,” she said. “As a first-time head coach, you feel that, too. I look forward to working with these players and building our team.”
Monday’s two-hour practice was brisk, and Thiesse was demanding. When play got sloppy, she decided that the team should do extra sprints.
Thiesse has done plenty of offseason work with the Mavericks’ veteran roster, which should be competitive in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
“She’s real intense; her expectations are high,” sophomore Jamie Bresnahan said. “That’s good. That makes us want to perform at a higher level.”
The Mavericks did a lot of fullcourt work and some 5-on-5, which Thiesse said is good so early in practice. Thiesse seemed to focus a lot on the defense, while making sure the players understand a new offense.
“I’m really excited about the talent we have here,” she said. “The girls know the game. It takes a while to teach a new system and new concepts, breaking old habits and building new ones, but the players have been willing to work hard.”
The Mavericks, who were 18-11 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season, don’t have a game until Nov. 4, when they play an exhibition at the University of Minnesota. The regular season begins Nov. 16 at the Northern State tournament.
“We always want to win a championship and go to the national tournament,” Bresnahan said. “I think (Thiesse) can really bring out the best in us.”