Back on the court: Kasier helping bring back RCC women’s basketball

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The last four years have not been kind to the Riverland Community College women’s basketball program, but that is changing quickly under first-year head coach Andrew Kaiser, a graduate of Austin, who has been an assistant coach at Riverland for the past four years.

While Kaiser was working with the men’s basketball program, the women’s team didn’t have a team in three of the last four years and it won just one game and forfeited seven times in the 2017-2018 campaign.

Kaiser started as head coach last November and he had to recruit players without having a team to show them. With the players he was able to find, the Blue Devils already have their winningest season in five years as they are off to a 2-2 overall start.

Megan Shanahan spots up for a three-pointer in practice for Riverland Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

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“(Not having a team last year) didn’t make recruiting easier,” Kasier said. “Being .500 right now is a good thing. I think we could take top four in the conference and at least go into the Region Tournament. That first win was very important. I still had jitters the next morning. It was a big turnaround for the program.”

Austin grad Kiwi VanZant, who played in the Minnesota Class AAA State Tournament for the Packers last year, came to Riverland because of the Austin Assurance Scholarship Program. VanZant is averaging  9.5 points 10.5 rebounds per game and one steal per game for RCC.

“I thought it was a good opportunity, so I decided to go here,” VanZant said. “It’s really nice. I don’t have to drive that far, I don’t have to pay for dorms and I can come and go from my house. (Coach) Kaiser reassured us that we would have a team and it kept our heads up, knowing more players were coming.”

Austin grad Kiwi VanZant pulls up for a jump shot in practice in Riverland Gym Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

Saint Charles grad Megan Shanahan was considering giving up on basketball after high school until Kaiser contacted her and now she’s leading the Blue Devils in scoring as she’s putting up 21.5 points per game.

“Being part of this rebuilding season is really rewarding,” Shanahan said. “We can do Kaiser proud and we can do the whole school proud for restarting this program and starting out with a couple of wins.”

The last time RCC completed a full season, it went 7-20 overall in 2014-2015. Kaiser thinks this team can top that mark if it stays healthy and he’s hoping the Blue Devils can push for a top-four finish in the MCAC South so it can compete in the Regional Tournament.

Jada Willis passes the ball in practice for the Riverland women’s basketball Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

While Kaiser has his own style, he has picked up many coaching tips from working under RCC men’s basketball coach and baseball coach Derek Hahn and playing for Austin boys basketball coach Kris Fadness.

“I’ve definitely meshed in stuff that I learned from both Fadness and Hahn,” Kaiser said. “The defensive principals I learned from Fadness and I even took a couple of his offensive plays. I’ve also learned some stuff from coach Hahn in the last four years and I’ve put in some of own stuff.”

The Blue Devils will play Lake Superior in Brainerd at 2 p.m. Friday. RCC’s next home game is against Rainy River at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Riverland’s Anna Carmody comes up with a steal from a teammate in practice in Riverland Gym Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/