Saturday, March 29, 2003

Fiery coach returns NKU to title game


Winstel knows when to speak up

By Matt Humphrey
Special to the Enquirer

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Nancy Winstel refuses to admit her age.

Go ahead. Just try to pry that nugget from the Northern Kentucky women's basketball coach.

Is she 40? Fifty? Twenty-nine?

Ask away, but prepare yourself for a vague answer.

WOMEN'S D-II FINAL
NKU (26-7) vs. South Dakota State (31-3)
Tipoff: 6 p.m. today, St. Joseph (Mo.) Civic Arena (3,800).
TV: ESPN2.
Radio: WTSJ-AM (1050).
Series: SDSU leads 1-0.
"Let's just say I'm 40-something," Winstel said, while her eavesdropping Northern Kentucky players giggled Friday at St. Joseph Civic Arena.

In truth, Winstel's an energetic 49 - and she's hours from coaching in her second NCAA Division II championship game in four years.

When her Norse (26-7) meet South Dakota State (31-3) at 6 p.m. today, a national television audience will see the life source that keeps Winstel coaching.

And fiery, and loud, and animated, and driven - and, yes, even young.

"Every day she's always intense," said NKU senior Bridget Flanagan, a key member of Winstel's 2000 national championship team. "She's very intense in practice. She really gets on us big-time."

During one practice this season, Winstel was so upset that she threw her whistle on the court. Not to outdo herself, she then removed a shoe and heaved it into the bleachers.

Her players weren't sure what to think.

"She had to wobble over there to get it," Norse senior Amy Mobley said. "The next day we were all making fun of her, though."

Mobley wasn't laughing at Winstel after Quincy eliminated NKU from the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament March 7.

Winstel was so upset she didn't talk to her team for two days.

"Sometimes, if you don't have anything good to say, silence is golden," Winstel said. "Sometimes I don't want to say anything, because if I say something it's not going to be good. It's better if I don't talk and they think I'm giving them the silent treatment."

But like her age, Winstel can't tell you the source of her intensity. She says it's something she has had since growing up in the towns of Campbell County.

Perhaps it's because she's the youngest of five kids. Or the child of two non-competitive parents. Or a girl who grew up in the pre-Title IX era when school-sponsored options weren't available.

Take basketball, for example. Winstel never played the game competitively until she was an NKU sophomore in 1974 - the first year women's basketball was offered.

Her high school, St. Thomas in Fort Thomas, didn't have girls basketball at all.

NKU's first coach, Marilyn Moore, plucked Winstel out of the intramural volleyball program in 1974. Moore let Winstel join her inaugural seven-player squad that finished 19-8.

By 1977, Winstel completed a playing career that still places her 10th on the Norse's all-time rebounding list.

One year later, she completed her master's in physical education/coaching at Indiana University. Bobby Knight became a lifelong coaching role model.

Since taking over the NKU program from present-day athletic director Jane Meier in 1983, Winstel has become the vocal teacher - not the pupil.

She was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 1999, the same year she was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Sports Hall of Fame. One year later her Norse finished 32-2 and won the national championship.

Meier said it's Winstel's intensity that brought her - and NKU - this far.

"... She knows what to say to motivate," Meier said.

Today's lineups:

NKUYr.Ht.PPG
Amy MobleySr.5-1115.2
Connie MyersSo.5-1011.3
Kristin PoloskySr.6-17.6
E. BurrowsSo.5-95.6
B. FlanaganSr.5-1014.0

Coach: Nancy Winstel (439-139, 20 seasons; 478-180, 23 years overall).

SDSUYr.Ht.PPG
Brenda DavisJr.5-1115.7
Melissa PaterSr.5-1119.0
S. SchlagelSo.6-013.0
Stacie CizekJr.5-108.9
Heather SielerFr.5-67.8

Coach: Aaron Johnston (78-26, four seasons).

STATISTICS

NKU SDSU
48.2FG%47.1
39.13-pt.%36.7
65.4FT%70.8
74.3PPG86.9
+5.2Reb. margin+13.5
-2.5Turn. margin+2.5




REDS-INDIANS: SATURDAY'S GAME
Punchless Reds lose again

REDS OPEN GREAT AMERICAN BALL PARK
With a pitch, ballpark comes alive
PHOTO GALLERY
New uniforms for new ballpark
Indians 6, Reds 1
DAUGHERTY: Close wall far from Jr.'s mind
Lindner as optimistic as fans
First Bush to toss first pitch
Reds Notebook: New uniforms on display
Is it the perfect park? No, but it's among the best
Reds don't expect Bengals' grass problems
For Indians, new digs created a huge boost

OTHER BASEBALL
Baseball Notebook: Tigers cut Easley, will swallow $14M
Other Exhibition Games
Spring Training Standings

KENTUCKY BASKETBALL
Marquette shocks Kentucky, 83-69
UK needs Bogans against Marquette
With Bogans in limbo, UK turns to Fitch
Marquette conjures up glory days

NKU BASKETBALL
Fiery coach returns NKU to title game
NKU Notebook: Scoring chances few for Mobley

OTHER TOURNAMENTS
Updated NCAA scores and game coverage
Syracuse 79, Auburn 78
Oklahoma 65, Butler 54
Michigan State 60, Maryland 58
Texas 82, Connecticut 78
It's round two for Kansas-Arizona
Women's Sweet 16 Preview

LOCAL SPORTS
Mini-Marathon expects 12,000
Swarm kick off 1st arena season
Seven Four Seven heavy choice today at Turfway
Toledo 3, Cyclones 1
Sports on TV-Radio

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Spring Sports Previews
Ky. Girls Sweet 16 Games

NBA
NBA Games: Kobe scores 55 in Jordan's L.A. sendoff

WORLD FIGURE SKATING
Kwan wins short program at Worlds
Canadians win dance gold

TENNIS
Capriati reaches showdown with Serena

AUTO RACING
Stewart's car impounded