Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Turnover problem a thing of the past?

It’s no secret that the Northwestern women’s basketball team starts two freshman guards against tough Big Ten competition. And it follows that the Wildcats have struggled all year against the full-court press.

But Sunday, NU (4-18, 0-11 Big Ten) had 20 turnovers, its lowest total in league play this year, and it successfully beat Michigan’s full-court press for most of the game, albeit in a losing effort.

“We are expecting other teams to press us because it is one of our weaknesses,” freshman point guard Melissa Culver said. “Breaking the press and doing it quickly is a key to setting up our offense. I think we are breaking it because we have more confidence now.”

Giving the ball away only 20 times is a great improvement for the Cats, considering their past performances. In consecutive games against Michigan State on Jan. 27 and Penn State on Jan. 31, NU lost the ball 18 and 16 times, respectively – in the first half alone.

Aid from Virginia: Sophomore guard Kristin Ambrose, who has NCAA postseason experience, has not played this year because Division I-A rules require the Virginia transfer to sit out one season.

The 6-foot guard practices with the team and attends home games, but she is prohibited from traveling with the Cats.

“I was looking to transfer to a few schools, but Northwestern seemed like the best place for me,” Ambrose said. “(NU) recruited me heavily out of high school, my brother lives in the area and I get along great with coach (June) Olkowski.”

Olkowski and NU made a strong effort to recruit Ambrose because of the impressive career numbers she compiled at The Blake School in Minnetonka, Minn. Ambrose, a two-time Nike All-American in high school, led her team to two Class AA state titles and she averaged 14 points per game in her final three seasons as a starter.

“I see myself as a leader, and I think next year I can come in and make an impact” Ambrose said. “Next year when we get Emily (Butler) back and with me stepping in the picture, we will make a big difference.”

The injured leader: Butler’s season ended this year after a knee injury in NU’s fourth game of the season. But the progress of Butler’s rehabilitation leaves reason for Ambrose and the rest of the Cats to be optimistic.

Last week Butler received a knee brace allowing her to walk. The injured junior can now ride an exercise bike and use the elliptical walking machine for short periods of time.

“Everything has gone well so far,” Butler said. “I go to the doctor again in a couple of weeks, and I will get a brace that provides me with more mobility.”

Butler hopes to start playing basketball again in two or three months. But first she has to be able to jog without pain, and then she will work on changing direction.

If all goes well, Butler will be back on the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena in November for the start of the Cats’ 2002-2003 season.

“Right now my chances of returning look good,” Butler said.

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Turnover problem a thing of the past?