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Yotes destination: Nationals

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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:16 am | Updated: 12:30 am, Wed Mar 9, 2011.

For destination spots like SeaWorld or Disneyland, a person might get excited about a 19-hour bus ride.

For the College of Idaho women’s basketball team, Sioux City, Iowa provides that excitement, as the Coyote women jumped on a bus at 7 a.m. Sunday for a two-day, 19-hour, 1,350 mile roadtrip to Iowa for the NAIA Division II National Tournament.

“We’re really in denial right now I think,” C of I senior Tyra Rickman said Friday at practice.

The team planned to stop in Laramie, Wyo., practice and stay overnight, then complete the long road trip on Monday.

The longest bus trip the Yotes typically make is anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to Southern Oregon.

Of course, the C of I ladies have endured long trips before, having been stuck in airports the last two springs traveling to the previous two national tournaments in Iowa.

“I love it, I think it really bonds the team,” senior Kathryn Beus said.

To make the trip a little easier, they plan on getting a season of a TV show to watch during the ride.

Once they arrive

“When we finally get there, after the bus ride, that will be great, the atmosphere there is unbelievable,” Rickman said. “You get the feeling when you’re there — the feeling there is undescribable, you can’t describe how awesome it is.”

The Yotes (18-3) started with the opening banquet Tuesday night, then play their big game against second-ranked Northwestern (Iowa) today at 6:30 p.m. (MT), immediately following the opening ceremony.

The Red Raiders (30-1) are the defending national champions and they’ll have plenty of fan support as the “home” team, traveling just 50 miles to play.

“At first we were kind of all, ‘Great,’” senior Rachel Rasmussen said of the team’s reaction when they found out they’d be playing the Red Riders. “But it’s going to be a packed gym, it’s going to be right after a ceremony, no one expects anything from us the first game, so if we can knock them out, why not.”

Plus, a third straight trip to nationals provided a wonderful surprise for this year’s team.

“We did not expect it like we did the past few years, so that’s why it’s extra exciting,” Rasmussen said. “When we played Corban (and won), it was like OK, now I can be done, no matter what happens, we get to to go nationals.”

About the Red Raiders

The teams met in 2000 in the quarterfinals at nationals, with Northwestern winning 73-66, and again in the national championship game in 2001, a 77-50 win for the Red Raiders that gave them their first of three national titles.

This year’s Red Raiders team sounds a lot like the Coyotes, too.

They are led by two-time NAIA All-American 5-foot-9 senior guard Becca Hurley (22.8 ppg, 5.1 apg), along with 6-0 sophomore forward Kendra DeJong (18.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and the Great Plains Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, 5-7 junior guard Kami Kuhlmann (13.2 ppg, 3.1 apg).

Rasmussen said that the Yotes know that Northwestern — which doesn’t have a player taller than 6-0 — likes to run and play aggressive, averaging 88.4 points per game and forcing 714 turnovers.

Much like the Coyote Chaos that led the C of I to the postseason the last two seasons.

“I think it’s a good challenge,” Rickman said. “Honestly, that’s how you have to look at it.”


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