On the Court: Women’s Basketball Shooting for a Successful Season

Kathleen Daly-Jensen, Sports Reporter

We are now halfway through November and the Whitman Women’s Basketball season is upon us. This year’s team is young, with half the 14 player roster being freshman, but predicted to be strong, nonetheless. The Northwest Conference coaches tab the Whitman Blues second in the preseason poll. They are predicted to finish right behind George Fox University, a Sweet 16 participant in last year’s NCAA Division III national tournament. Coach Michelle Ferenz will work to blend the seven newcomers into the team successfully.

Ferenz is positive and enthusiastic about having such a talented group of first years on the roster. Ferenz mentions, “last year, we lacked depth but had a lot of experience and played very well early in the season. We improved as the season went on but our lack of depth hurt us late in the season. With so many young players on this roster we believe we are already deeper and have the potential to really improve throughout the season.”

As soon as the team arrived on campus, they began working tirelessly to prepare themselves for the season. Working on their speed and agility on the track and their strength in the weight room, the 14 talented women have been doing everything they can to set their team up for success this year. It has now been about a month since preseason training officially started for the team, and the time has been filled with practicing, scrimmaging other teams, and playing the alumnae. The team is itching to play their first home game this Wednesday, Nov. 16 against visiting team, Eastern Oregon University Mountaineers.

Just like last season, this year comes with both strengths and weaknesses for the team. Sierra McGarity ‘18 agrees with Ferenz stating, “I think we are going to be able to play with a lot of depth, which allows [the team] to play faster and keeps everyone fresh.” In addition, McGarity says, “Our team is really athletic this year. We have a lot of length and speed.” The team is full of athletic talent on the court, there is no doubt about it, but every team has room for improvement.

Senior guard Chelsi Brewer agreed that the team’s depth is its best quality.

“Our team is half and half this year meaning half returners and half first years so there’s a lot of learning going on and finding ourselves on the court,” she wrote in an email. “Our first years are talented and contribute a lot.”

From the coach’s perspective, the team’s weakness is rebounding. “We lost one of the best rebounders I have ever coached, Hailey Ann Maeda, last year to graduation,” says Ferenz, “It is something we need to start embracing and doing better.” The team’s loss provides an opportunity for a younger player to step up and take a leading role on the team.

As for the team environment, McGarity stated, “Our weakness so far has been communication. We have a lot of introverts on the team, so we will need everyone to step up their communication to be successful.” As the season goes on, this seems like a weakness that can be solved as the younger players find themselves on the team and become more comfortable.

Throughout this season, the team will be taking the conference on by storm and improving their game every step of the way. The team is determined to make this season a success, as McGarity said, “Each time we step on the floor, our goal is to improve. Day by day we are competing and bringing intensity to practice.” With a mindset and team dynamic like that, there is little that the Whitman College Blues Women’s Basketball team cannot achieve.

The Blues triumphed 55-53 over Eastern Oregon University in their first game on November 16. This weekend they will test themselves at the Whit Classic in Spokane, WA.