New Era Takes Pioneers into New Decade

New Era Takes Pioneers into New Decade

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. - The 2019-20 University of Wisconsin-Platteville women's basketball team will look to build off last season's conference tournament appearance with new faces roaming the sidelines, but many familiar faces on the court. 

Kelly McNiff joins the Pioneer family as head coach.  She comes from UW Oshkosh, where she served as a lead assistant the past six years.  

Two new assistants will also be joining McNiff's staff at UW-Platteville.  Marc Heidorf comes from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he served as head coach and athletic director from 2013-19.  Jeff Pustina joins the staff after 32 years of success at Cuba City, Wisconsin, were Pustina won 662 games at a .826 win clip.  To go with the 662 wins, Pustina also guided the Cubans to nine state titles.  As Coach McNiff said when Pustina was hired, "you don't win 662 games and nine state titles by accident."

Though the coaches may be new, McNiff will return four starters from last year's team that qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 2015.  "There has been a learning curve because of new concepts, terms and schemes that our coaching staff is implementing; it has been a challenging, yet positive experience for our players.  I have asked the team to really focus on getting a little better each time we step in to the gym, a 'win the day' attitude" McNiff says. 

First team all-conference members Morgan Horstman (SR, Bangor, Wisconsin) and Maiah Domask (JR, Waupun, Wisconsin) return for the Pioneers, Horstman lead the team with 14.2 points per a game while Domask pulled down a team best 9.3 rebounds per a game.  "Both have high basketball IQs and are catching on more and more.  My hope is that Morgan and Maiah will experience the same success on the court without having to expend a ton of energy by constantly creating one on one." McNiff says. "Once everything clicks, we are hoping for an offense with great flow, which I think will compliment Morgan's and Maiah's game."

Caitlyn Tipton (JR, Rosendale, Wisconsin) and Rachel Emendorfer (SR. Platteville, Wisconsin) were highlighted by McNiff. "Rachel also has a high IQ and we will rely on her to help the younger players with the process." McNiff said. "Caitlyn and Rachel will be extremely important to the success of our team, Caitlyn is one of our more athletic players with a deadly jumper and quick first step, when she wants to hit another gear, she can.  And Rachel plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor and probably our top defender.  She is our spark plug."

The Pioneers open the nonconference season on Nov. 10 when they will welcome Finlandia to Bo Ryan Court at Williams Fieldhouse.  They will play seven of the first nine games at home "As a new coach, playing at home is sort of a blessing, hopping on a bus, dealing with the travel, playing in someone's gym all bring added stress.  So, starting out, I can appreciate seven of nine at home." McNiff says.  "The quality of competition alone will be extremely beneficial when it comes to battling teams in the WIAC."  The nonconference portion of the season ends with the Loras Holiday Tournament in Dubuque, Iowa on Dec. 29 and 30.

The Pioneers open WIAC play traveling to UW-Stout on Jan. 4.  McNiff will face her former employer Jan 8 when preseason #13 and conference favorite UW Oshkosh travels to Platteville. 

The Pioneer's women team will host their annual Alumni Day on Jan. 25 when UW-River Falls visits for a 3 p.m. tip.   For full schedule click here.