Every few years, a player emerges that helps take a good team to the next level, and in a women’s basketball roster filled with talent, third-year guard Sigi Koizar is that player. Named to the America East First Team list in 2014, Koizar has developed into a cornerstone for the Black Bears, and with another season in the program, Koizar can take Maine to new heights.
Despite coming from a community where basketball wasn’t a large focus, Koizar’s journey began when she received support from her father and her cousin, who both helped convince her to play.
“I started playing when I was nine years old,” Koizar said. “After practice my dad would help me out, and he taught me how to shoot a layup, throw a goal, stuff like that.”
Being an exchange student from Vienna, Austria, Koizar first came to Maine to join the Millinocket High School basketball program. The program helped develop her talent and it was the perfect fit for her.
“I was here my junior year of high school, in Millinocket, because I was an exchange student, and I wanted to go to a small town but I wanted it to be big enough to play basketball, and then Millinocket, Maine was it,” Koizar said. “When I was playing, Coach Barron watched some of my games, and then I graduated back home and came back for college.”
Brought to play for the Black Bears during the 2013 season, Koizar averaged 4.9 points per game in her first year. In her second season however, she developed into one of Maine’s best, averaging 14.3 points per game. Playing in all 32 games in 2014, Koizar accumulated a team-leading 459 points. Though she leads the team in scoring so far this year, Koizar has her eyes on one more important goal.
“Leadership is the big one, especially this year, because as a point guard, it’s just important to know everybody’s strengths and weaknesses and then play to them,” Koizar said.
In addition to her leadership, Koizar hopes she can help push the team to end the year on a high note. Last season’s 23-9 record was overshadowed by the Black Bears dropping three of their last four games, and Koizar acknowledged the team can improve.
“Last season we didn’t finish strong, so this season we are going to push through the whole season,” Koizar said.
Koizar’s performance factors into how successful the team will be. The Black Bears’ offense thrives when the team capitalizes on the majority of their attempts, even if that means they don’t put many points on the board. Koizar is a great fit for the program because she is one of the best Black Bears at executing on attempts, and helping control the offensive tempo. In 2014, she hit 47.1 percent of her free throws, as well as making 31.9 percent of her three-point attempts.
“We’re not really a high scoring team compared to other teams,” Koizar said. “Our focus is on executing and focusing on points per possession, rather than the points total.”
Each season Koizar has been become more accurate on her shooting, and this season, she is ready to perform her best under the bright lights of the Cross Insurance Center. For her, the best part of basketball is when the team executes well.
“Just playing when it clicks, it makes it fun, especially at the Cross Center, when we’re in front of a big crowd,” Koizar said.
Though she is studying biology at the University of Maine, Koizar’s focus remains mainly on her basketball career as she hopes she can continue her success on the court after graduating college.
“I want to play professionally, for a couple of years, maybe in Europe or somewhere,” Koizar said.
Already scoring 47 points through the first three games this year, Koizar is on pace to have another strong season. Her success will determine how far the Black Bears can go in a season with high expectations. With so much riding on her performance, Koizar is ready to face the challenge.
“The biggest thing is that we give it everything we have because we don’t want to go back at the end of the season and be like ‘oh, I wish I had done better, I wish I worked harder,’ so we have got to give it everything we got now,” Koizar said.