By Ginny Boyko
After kicking off the season with a scorching 5-0 start, the University of Mary Washington No. 18 women’s basketball team is determined to keep its undefeated status.
After last night’s game against Capital Athletic Conference foe Salisbury University (results too late to be reported), the Eagles won’t have to wait long for their next big match-up.
This Friday, the women’s team takes on another conference opponent in Hood College. Salisbury and Hood are a combined 2-11 on the year so it may not appear that the Eagles have too much of a challenge ahead of them, but this team knows better than to get too ahead of themselves.
“Statistically we should win,” freshman Kathleen Russell said. “We should not underestimate the team and just play our game.”
The team, along with Coach Deena Applebury, has been scouting both teams all week determining a solid game plan that will work toward the Eagles’ advantage.
“Coach tries to prepare us one game at a time. We prepare for the upcoming game so we don’t get a head of ourselves,” Russell said. “You don’t want to over look a team and not play to the best of your ability.”
After last season’s success, this year the team is hoping to better themselves even further. Last year the Eagles went to the NCAA Championships losing in the round of 16 after a 28-3 season that earned them their third conference title in the last four years.
The current season looks to be just as promising even after losing all but one of their starting five from last year, including center Liz Hickey who recently had her jersey retired by the school. This year the key to a great season is going to be the team’s depth.
“If someone’s not playing well, there’s always someone else to step up and play,” Russell said.
This year the coach has been able to consistently been able to play nine players. With an unselfish team, there have been plenty of games in which freshmen have risen to the occasion and made significant efforts.
“Whoever has the ‘hot hand’ scoring wise, we keep feeding them the ball,” Russell said.
With five players that have already played in a final four, it seems like a realistic goal for the team this year, and the team won’t be satisfied with anything less. With the way this team plays it’s obvious they want to go as far as they know they are capable of going.
“When we come to practice and games we work our hardest,” Russell said. “Coach has high expectations. She tells us how much skill and potential we have.”
The women are just as compatible off the court as they are on it. Russell says that a nice aspect of being part of the team is that everyone is like sisters; very accepting and that they all get along, which makes for a greater cohesion. The comradeship will make the loss of the three seniors next year that much harder.
“When we’re not necessarily playing too well we can look up to the seniors to pick up the intensity,” Russell said. “The seniors are such good leaders.”
But before the season is over the team has a lot to look forward to, including a tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The tournament will take place over winter break. There, UMW will play Montclair State College and Randolph-Macon College.