MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University and its women’s basketball program have a thousand reasons to be excited about next season and beyond with the hiring of Casey Thousand as their next head coach.

“We spent a lot of time and had a great search committee that included many of the high school coaches from the U.P. and various people from across the campus at Northern,” said Forrest Karr, the Athletic Director for NMU.” “We took in all that information and made a decision based on the information we had and definitely believe that Casey is the best qualified for the job and that’s why she was selected.”

Thousand has strong ties to the Wildcat program. She worked as an assistant coach under Troy Mattson from 16′-18 and as an associate head coach from 18′-19′ before taking a job as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Illinois-Springfield for the past three years.

“I wasn’t really looking when I left NMU,” said Thousand. “I kind of got head-hunted out of NMU which was a great opportunity for me and I’m very grateful for that but when I had the chance to come back and get on campus for the on-campus interview and getting to see people, just walking around campus there’s a lot of the same faces that were around when I was up there and it honestly just feels like home.”

There will be a lot of familiar faces on the Wildcats roster as well. Several players Thousand helped bring to Marquette during her first stint with the program.

“Makaylee (Kuhn), Sam (Potter), and those players were actually players I recruited as an assistant coach,” said Thousand. “I’m excited to get a chance to work with them and I know what they can do. Obviously, Makaylee is a great player. I never really stepped away from the program, I’ve always really kept my tabs on them and how they’re doing. I’m just excited to see what we can do together and how we get everyone going and just kind of build.”

The foundation of the program will be built around defense.

“I am a very defensive head coach just like coach Matson is,” said Thousand. “I know that it’s important to put points on the board and to try and adapt a little bit to where I want to go. My offense, I kind of adapt to the players I have. The players I have I’ve watched the film because we were prepping for them for this year so I know what they can do but once you get into practice and really work with the individuals and see what they can do on a consistent level that kind of adapts for me of what our offense can be.”

While the familiarity will help Thousand’s transition, she says she expects a lot of trial and error early on but is excited with the roster that’s in place.

“They are basketball players, they are college athletes that competed in the GLIAC and at a young age,” said Thousand. “I mean, a lot of them got a lot of minutes this year, a lot of them got starting opportunities this year with injuries and Covid and all that other stuff going on.”

Thousand says she is currently working on getting her staff in order before getting right to work for next season.

“It’s my job and the staff’s job to get the best out of each individual,” said Thousand. “That is really what our goal is. They got to strive and they got to work hard off the court which I know they will do, but it’s our job to make sure we get it done on the court.”