Volume 97 Issue 5 Sports

Update: Juniata Women’s Basketball

by Akira Tachikawa

Last year, the woman’s basketball had a dominant player in Kelsey Livoti. She was a member of the 1,000-point club, which is anyone who scores over 1,000 points in their collegiate career. Unfortunately, she graduated last spring, and the team lost a crucial part of their team. However, they are now a brand new team with lots of potential to grow as a program.

The team started off the year with a 58-41 victory against Mt. Aloysius on November 14th. However, on November 15th, they lost a hard fought game against McDaniel College. On November 18th, they bounced back for an 84-57 victory against Frostburg State. On November 28th, the team lost against St. Vincent College. On December 2nd, the team suffered a loss against Elizabethtown 66-47. On December 5th, the team lost a close game against Scranton with a score of 53-41.

With each team every year, there are new goals and visions that they have compared to the previous years. For this season, it was to have a new style of play completely.

“The tempo is definitely different from last year; we’re definitely a lot faster than previous years,” said senior forward Natalie Hager. “I just think we have a lot more confidence this year, and there’s no more hesitation on the court like there was last year, which will definitely help us against the strong teams that we play this year.”

“We gutted the program from last year to this year,” said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. “We basically just introduced a new defense, and our offense is a little different this year. We leave every day having a good feeling about the group we’re working with. We have a great sense of buy-in, and I think we’re in a healthy place within our team that that in itself makes us feel very positive about this season.”

With a new team and a new play style, the women’s basketball team had some different goals for this year compared to the goals they had in the past.

“We didn’t really set any long term goals: amount of wins, championships…” said sophomore forward Rachael Anstine. “I think one of our biggest goals is just to be competitive every day and improve every day.”

“We also talked about being a family, and being teammates. I think being a good teammate for each other is what we’re really focusing on,” said Young-Uhrich. “This is a five month season; it’s really long and you better like the people you are with every day.”

With every season comes a different challenge and different aspects of the game that needs improvement. However, every team has its strengths in some way shape or form.

“I think the pre-season set the tone of hard work and commitment to this season,” said freshman guard Kelly Leamer. “I think we all have a competitive attitude too, and I think it’ll carry over from practice [to the games].”

” I think what helps is that everyone on the team is so close, and we push each other in practice by going hard all the time, which makes us ready for games.” said senior guard Andrea Kronthal.

“I was anxious the first weekend because I had no idea what to expect. When you have a youthful team a lot of times the mental toughness is very immature, and that’s something that takes time to develop,” said Young-Uhrich. “I think right out of the gates the kids showed a lot of toughness and guts in that regards and we grew tremendously in the first weekend, so we’re going to build upon that as the season goes on.”

It is always tough when the star player of a team graduates, because there is a huge void that needs to be filled the following years. However, it is also an opportunity for the other players to step up.

“We’ve seen everybody stepping up, but I think that when you have a consistent scorer, that consistency is reassuring; I mean Kelsey averaged 13 points,” said Coach Young-Uhrich. “I think it’s going to be interesting this year that yeah we don’t have that one person to rely on, but every body is responsible every night to step up. I think it helps in the sense of a team, but it’s always tough. Each year we have to replace somebody, but I think it’s pretty cool to see other kids stepping in and fulfilling their roles each year.”

Sports in college are at a whole new level compared to high school, and often times it is difficult for freshman who are used to high school level athletics to adjust to the college level of the sport. College sports are also different from high school sports. However, for Kelly Leamer, the transition was not as difficult as it could have been.

“I think the transition was made easier because of my teammates, and when I got in the game it wasn’t a total shock because we are so competitive in practice which helped me out. ” said Leamer. ” The biggest difference is the speed of the game. In high school we liked to play fast, but here it’s faster now. In high school you could just get in someone’s face and cause turnovers but in college you have to close out hard, put ball pressure, so it’s all the details that I have to pay more attention to.”

With only five upperclassmen on the team this year, the team is a very young team with a lot of potential to keep growing maturity wise and skill wise.

“Sometimes ignorance is bliss; last year we had a bunch of first years that didn’t know anything, and sometimes that’s good. You don’t have any expectations and you can just go in there and show up and play, but with youth there is always opportunity to grow.” said Young-Uhrich. “I think the sophomore class this year is really at an advantage because they were just thrown into the fire last year and now they have a year to play with confidence and go out there and play. But even as a senior you’re learning; I don’t think anyone is done learning. I hope we reach a point where we peak come January of February when we start putting it all together and work with all cylinders; I think we can be a pretty solid team.”

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