The women’s basketball team has had trouble winning games against opposing teams in the NEWMAC this season, as they are currently 1-10 in conference play and 3-16 overall. “I feel like our record doesn’t show our talent level,” said center Gwyneth Ivory (’17).
Head coach Pat Glispin also believes that the team is better than their record suggests. “I hate making excuses with injuries,” she said, “But I think it’s been a factor because of when the people have been out.”
Glispin said that the guard Aretha Sullivan’s (’17) injury during the first game of the season was especially detrimental. Sullivan would miss a few more games before recovering. “We lost confidence in that phase,” Glispin said.
Clark’s lack of experience did not help its confidence level either. The team is predominately comprised of first-years and sophomores. “I’ve had to kind of assume a leadership role as being an upperclassman even though it’s only my second year,” said Ivory.
Sophomores have been thrust into leadership roles, and first-years have been given major minutes. “We’ve been elevating our level of play and our intensity from high school to college,” said captain guard Brooke Brennan (’16). “With six freshman, you kind of have to step it up conditioning wise.”
Brennan said that she fully realized the team had significant improvements to make after its late December loss to Bowdoin, “After the break, we got whipped pretty badly by Bowdoin. It was a wakeup call, and we had to start playing a lot harder and a lot better.”
Glispin said she saw the early season struggles as motivation for the team, “When you have so much adversity, it really is a chance to elevate yourself.”
The team has primarily been focusing on cutting turnovers, and elevating their defensive cohesion and tenacity. It has made noticeable improvements defensively. “We were watching film the other day,” said Ivory, “and you could just see from the beginning of our season, you can see the dramatic change we’ve made on defense in our stance and our movement.”
Ivory said that the team has embraced the motto of the New England Patriots, “Do your job” on defense. For the team, this means not only that each player should do her job, but that teammates should hold each other accountable as well.
“There’s going to be mistakes,” said assistant coach Dan Diez (’15). “Sometimes you have to be able to tell your teammate, ‘I need you to get over there,’ ‘I need you to hedge that screen.’”
The team’s revamped defensive intensity has allowed it to stay in games against tough inner-conference opponents such as Mount Holyoke and Springfield College. Ivory said that the game against the defending NEWMAC champion Springfield last week was especially encouraging.
“Just the fact that we were able to keep up with them the whole game shows that we have the potential to play with anyone in our league,” said Ivory. The team was tied with Springfield at the half, but ended up losing by 12. “We haven’t been able to string together a full forty minute great game,” said Diez.
Diez said he has mixed emotions about the game against Springfield, “It’s tough because you come out with that mentality that we went bucket for bucket in the first half, but you can’t be happy with that,” he said. “It became a winnable game and we didn’t win it.”
While the team did a decent job cutting down turnovers in the game against Springfield, solving the turnover problem has been a slower process for the team than fortifying its defense. Glispin said that she is unsure of how to keep the number of turnovers per game down, “If I had the answer to that, I wouldn’t have allowed [turnovers] to go back up again [against Babson].”
Despite some kinks that the team is looking to iron out, Glispin said that she is optimistic about the team’s chances in the remaining games this season. “The top of our conference is pretty strong, so now we have games in which we can maybe be a little bit more competitive.”
Glispin said that she is glad that the team had such a tough schedule during the beginning of conference play. “I think, having faced the stronger teams, you get a little from that, you learn where you need to be.”
The team will focus on maintaining cohesion and intensity on defense and taking care of the ball on offense for the full game in their upcoming games. “I think we’ll be able to take the positives from the harder games and bring them into the not as tough games, and I think we can win games if we do that,” said Ivory, “we just [have to] focus on playing a full forty minutes.”