Women’s Basketball to Start Season on Friday

The 2014-2015 season is approaching for the Manhattan College women’s basketball team. After a tough loss in the exhibition game against Adelphi on Nov. 7, the team will start its season at home on Nov. 14 when they host Fairleigh Dickinson.

Preparations for the Season

As Manhattan prepares for the season, one thing that is important to them is their young players. They have nine underclassmen, including five freshmen. They increased the depth of the team and have been looking strong early on.

“The team is working very hard,” head coach John Olenowski said. “We have a lot of young players that are learning the college game. I’m happy with their work ethic at this point, and we’re excited to kick off the season.”

“Going into the season, we’re looking to get a lot of people playing,” junior Jacqui Thompson said. “We have a ton of players who can contribute so I think getting people in and out is what we’re looking to do.”

Another aspect of the game that has been helpful to the team is communication. Key things such as getting the younger players used to the game and players stepping up as leaders have improved the team and helped them get ready for the season.

“We have great team chemistry,” junior Shayna Ericksen said, “which is good especially because we are a young team. 

Look for Improvements

The team is ready for the new season and knows what they need and want to improve on from last year. After winning their first game of the season last year, they went on to a tough eight-game losing streak before winning back-to-back games again.

“We need to get off to a better start than we did last season,” Coach Olenowski said. “We need to be more consistent on the defensive end and improve on depth from last year, which I think is going to be one of our strengths.”

Things such as defense, rebounds and team communication are what they are working on to develop better. Ericksen emphasized rebounding and that the team had some flaws with them last year.

“Our transition game could be a lot better this year,” Thompson said. “We’re very athletic. We have a lot of young and athletic players, so looking to get the ball out and push it up the floor will definitely be better than it was last year.”

Key Aspects 

Important things that will help the team this season are their home games and young players.

“We have a good comfort level and it’s a big advantage for us,” Olenowski said of the team’s eight-game home stand.

Fifteen out of their 29 games are at Draddy Gymnasium. This includes the home stand for about a month in December.

“That’s going to be big for us,” Thompson said. “We’re a young team so playing on the court that we do everyday will really help us out a lot.”

The five freshmen have been making a strong impression on the team early on. Three of them started in the exhibition game. Nyasha Irizarry and freshman redshirt Kayla Grimme helped with a 15 and 10-point contribution respectively.

“Hopefully they’re just going to get better and better,” Olenowski said, “and that will help our program continue to get better. It’s nice knowing we will have them for the next four years.”

“I think its good,” Ericksen said. “We’ve got a lot of time to play together. People will get experience. We have a deep team so we can play multiple players.”

Overall Season Goals

Like every team before a new season, the Jaspers are setting goals within the MAAC conference and general goals of winning games and proving themselves to other teams.           

“Our goal is to finish in the top four of the conference,” Olenowski said. “We’ve been able to do this in 3 of 5 years, so that is our initial goal. That takes us into the conference tournament and, at that point, we want to be prepared to win that MAAC conference.”

Both Ericksen and Thompson agreed that proving other teams wrong is an important thing to the team this season. The team has great of talent and they are ready to win.

“A lot of teams aren’t expecting us to be anything special,” Thompson said. “I think we are something special so my goal is to upset a ton of teams that aren’t expecting much from us.”

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