2020-21 Women’s Basketball
With the season underway, it’s obviously very early in the season-long process, but what have you learned about this team so far?
We had a unique preseason, and we have an interesting mix on our roster. We have 10 freshman or sophomores, along with five upperclassmen, most of whom have had a lot of game experience. The things I know about our team so far: Our competitiveness, our athleticism and our length have really improved. As a result, our practices have really improved. I’ve been very pleased with that.
You mentioned that two-thirds of the players on your roster are either freshmen or sophomores. What are some of the pros and cons of having such a young team?
Our freshmen and sophomore classes are exciting! Since the minute we got here, recruiting has been a gigantic priority for our program and our staff. The young players are adding a lot to our program. They have a lot to learn, but the things they’re bringing are things that our program really needed to elevate. I think we have a very good blend of youth and experience. We have kids who have logged a lot of minutes in the MAC, and then we have very good young players who are really pushing the threshold and elevating our program. For me, it’s less about your year in school and more about your experience. Working with this group has been a lot of fun for our staff, and right now, we’re even more grateful than usual for a chance to get on the court.
With that mix of youth and experience, and with the pandemic keeping you from your normal preseason experience, how have you and your staff gone about trying to build team chemistry?
COVID-19 has impacted everyone in the world in some way. As a coach this year, you have to be creative and you have to be adaptable, because no matter who you are, this season is different from every other season that you’ve coached in the past. We’ve just tried to find ways to build our team and bond, even with all of the protocols. Whether that’s Zoom calls, going on walks to spend time with each other, or watching film, the key is just finding different ways to do things that we would normally be doing.
We feel like there are two very important things going into this season. One is adaptability; these are different times. We talk with our kids that you cannot "get ready". When your moment comes you need to "be ready." Often in college basketball, the teams that have been dominant have had at least one or two of the best players on the floor. This year, just with the way COVID-19 and contact tracing work, it might be the teams with the best roster, from one through fifteen. Different people are going to be put in different positions, and kids who probably haven’t played as much might be thrust into a bigger role on a given night. We’re telling our kids to be ready, and to be excited about those opportunities.
We feel like we’re in a place in our program where our upperclassmen players model the behavior that we expect in our program. I’m proud of those kids.
You have a core group of players that has been in the program since you came to BG prior to the 2018-19 season. Have those players been helpful in working with the large group of newcomers?
Yes, it’s been a great combination. We feel like we’re in a place in our program where our upperclassmen players model the behavior that we expect in our program. I’m proud of those kids. Angela Perry, Madisen Parker and Kadie Hempfling have played a lot of minutes for us, and what’s been rewarding as a coach is seeing how they’ve developed. They really showed a lot of growth and development from the first year our staff got here to our second year, and they’ve each taken a big step this offseason as well. That’s very motivating to me as a coach and to us as a staff. Mari Hill is only in her second year with our program, but she is a fourth-year college athlete who has had a ton of experiences. And Clare Glowniak is in her fifth year here at BGSU, and has such a positive impact on our team in so many ways, both on and off the court.
With so much being different this year, as you’ve mentioned, you and your staff have had to perform your jobs in vastly different ways from previous years. Is there anything good that has come out of the changes, or is there anything you’ve learned from all of this?
One thing that hasn’t changed from other years is that, as the season approaches, your team is more and more ready to finally play someone else. The pandemic has been disruptive for everyone around the world, and you just have to be adaptable and be ready to step up and play a different role. But, we are also very aware of the fact that every chance we have to get on the court is a blessing, whether it’s practice or a game. Every time we take the court, we have to view that as a great opportunity, and I think our kids have done that. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but we can always control our attitude and our mindset. It’s an opportunity, it’s a blessing, and we have to make the most of it and play with joy and with an opportunistic mindset.