Howie Hanson: Stromme gives Bulldogs a good dressing down

Bulldogs women's basketball coach Karen Stromme rarely chews on her players. But she did get in the faces of her players after last Saturday's 69-56 loss to St. Cloud State in the American Family Insurance Classic at Romano Gym, and the Bulldogs ...

Bulldogs women's basketball coach Karen Stromme rarely chews on her players. But she did get in the faces of her players after last Saturday's 69-56 loss to St. Cloud State in the American Family Insurance Classic at Romano Gym, and the Bulldogs deserved it.

The Bulldogs stunk up Romano, while losing for the first time in four games. Worse: Stromme's team had defeated the Huskies 85-75 in St. Cloud six days earlier.

"I was very frustrated with their play," Stromme said. "And, I was blunt with them. We took the game for granted, and it cost us. We had a poor week of practice and played the same way in the game, which was uninspired."

At practice Monday, the players had a completely different attitude, Stromme said.

"The players took ownership for the loss, acknowledging that St. Cloud wanted it more than we did," said Stromme. "It was a good lesson learned, that we have to show up to win."


Stromme expects the team to play with more bite this weekend in the Southwest Minnesota Classic in Marshall, when they will play the University of South Dakota on Friday and Augustana College Saturday. Then the Bulldogs will have to fight off St. Scholastica at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Reif Recreation Center.

"The St. Scholastica game is great for Duluth, not unlike us playing the Gophers in the exhibition earlier this year," Stromme said. "Let's face it. We have the scholarships, and we should win. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. And St. Scholastica has a great team that won't be shell-shocked or worried to play a Division II team. They'll come after us, and we better be ready to play."

But the Saints will have to devise a defensive strategy to stop Bulldogs sophomore forward Lindsey Dietz, who was averaging 26.5 points and 10 rebounds per game heading into this weekend's games.

"Lindsey has been spectacular," Stromme said. "She's very athletic and is in the best shape of anyone on our team. She has made herself into a great player during the off-season, when she played on a national championship AAU team and was named tournament MVP. Lindsey is a go-to player, but that doesn't mean that the other players can't show up.

"The old adage is great teams are made from October to March, but great players are made from March until October. In other words, when the season stops, great players work on their skills."

Dietz is a 4.0 student, who had a 36 on her ACT. "Lindsey is a very special player and person," Stromme said.

Also off to strong starts: guards Tanysha Scott (11.3 points per game) and Katie Pavlich (10.3), the team's early-season defensive MVP.

"Teams have been sagging in on Lindsey, and Tanysha has been taking advantage of her open looks," Stromme said. "She doesn't need to score 20 points every game for us to be successful, but needs to get the ball to our open people.


"Katie's strong defensive play doesn't show up in the headlines or stats, but when coaches look at film, we say 'Wow, look at her.' Defense wins championships."

Stromme said the Bulldogs have all the talent in the world but have to learn how to play like champions.

"Teams will continue to bring their best games against us, because we're the team to beat," Stromme said. "For example, when we play a good team like St. Cloud that wants to be more competitive than us, nine times out of 10 you will lose. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for a team to get to the top, and it's even tougher to stay there."

Stromme said she's broken down the season into four parts: the five-week preseason, the pre-conference season, the conference season and the post-season.

"I really believe we have the talent to go beyond the conference championship," Stromme said. "Talent wise, we're as good as any team out there."

Between the Lines

  • Billy Johnson is a future star in Twin Ports billiards.

"The way Billy is improving, he could be the premiere player in the area, if not the state, a year or two from now," said Darrel Fredrickson, co-owner of Horseshoe Billiards in Duluth. "He's a great 8-ball player who needs only a little more tournament experience and practice to get over the top."

Johnson, 25, wants to be one of the best players in the area.


"Rod Carl and Marcus Aleman are probably the best local players everyone wants to beat," Johnson said.

  • The Horseshoe Billiards 8-Ball Tournament attracted a field of 135 last weekend.
  • The 11th annual Spirit of the North youth basketball tournament, held last weekend, was a major success.

"It was our biggest and best tourney ever," said Dale Rasmussen, director of the Duluth Area Youth Basketball Association.
"The weather was a deterrent for the travelers, but we had only one semi-serious injury, a shoulder separation. Financially speaking, I understand that it was our best fund-raising event ever. We had our most teams ever competing at three sites, and the local economic impact was estimated at about $1 million. Not too bad for a two-day event for sixth, seventh and eight graders."

Howie Hanson writes a sports column for Duluth Budgeteer News. He can be reached by e-mail at

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