The women’s basketball team started the season with a roster that did not include a player with a single career start, not to mention the absence of any seniors who could provide leadership and guidance. And while the team has felt the effects of these growing pains heading into its last two weekends of play with a 2-21, 0-10 Ivy record, there have been signs that the Red is a team with winning potential in the long run.
“To be honest, I didn’t foresee this much struggle,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We did anticipate ups and downs and growing pains. We lost six seniors — all starters. We just had a bunch of unknowns [this year].”
The Red knew it was at a disadvantage as being one of seven teams in the country without a senior in the lineup. The loss of juniors Brittani Rettig and Sarah Brown early in the season to injury and illness, respectively, compounded the team’s struggles.
Because of the senior-heavy rotation in the 2003-2004 season, the Red’s class of 2007 had few opportunities to adjust to the college game. Claire Perry was the only sophomore who came into this year’s campaign having played more than five minutes per game last season, and classmate Katherine Striztl was the only rookie to step out on the floor in more than 15 games. A third sophomore, forward Amy Lyon, saw action in 10 games and averaged 1.6 minutes last year. The lone junior suiting up for the Red this year, Hillary Seidel, had career averages of 12.8 minutes and 1.6 points per game entering this year’s campaign.
“When you come to [watch] a game, you don’t realize how much they’re learning and how much goes into making a team,” Smith said. “They really have no experience to fall back on. Everyone on the team has improved over the course of the year.”
Nevertheless, the sophomores have stepped into leadership roles on the court.
“They barely played at all last year, but they understand what’s expected as upperclassmen,” Smith said. “They’ve made great strides all season. We revert back to old habits some nights because we’re so young.”
Smith expects the problems that come from lack of experience, such as the turnovers that have plagued the team all season, will become less of a problem as the players learn the college game together.
The sophomore trio has shown incredible growth this season. Perry is the team’s second-leading scorer with 10.0 points per game and leads the team with 40 steals. Lyon is next on the scoring list, averaging 9.5 points, and leads the team with 5.5 boards a game. Stritzl is averaging 5.4 points, and recently put together a string of three consecutive double-digit scoring efforts — two of those being in close losses to Princeton and Penn. The point guard also leads the team with 72 assists.
“The sophomores never had to play the minutes,” Smith said. “It’s new to them. The inconsistent level of intensity is a factor of youth, but we have to change that. We’re excited for what the future holds. It’s a gradual process — you can’t learn it over the course of five to 10 games.”
The rookies, which make up half of the team’s roster, also give the Red a reason to look forward to next season. The sensation of the class of 2008 is Lindsey Krasna, who has garnered seven Ivy League rookie of the week awards so far this year. The freshmen phenom leads the Red in scoring with 12 points per game. Krasna fills out the box score with 4.4 rebounds each game and 32 steals and 59 assists on the season. She is one of only three Ivy League players this season to be ranked in the top 10 in the league for points and assists, as well as the top 20 in rebounding.
“I knew she’d be a good player,” Smith said. “I knew she’d make an immediate impact. Did I know it would be like this? No. It’s been a nice, pleasant surprise.”
The rest of the freshmen are not far behind, racking up minutes and gaining experience in leaps and bounds. Gretchen Gregg had a breakout weekend against Dartmouth and Harvard, notching 10 points in each contest. Morgan Dickens also broke into double digits for the first time against first-place Dartmouth.
The Red has four games left in its season, and Smith sees an opportunity for the developing team to grab a few wins to finish the rebuilding season.
“Against Penn and Princeton, we played great games two weeks ago,” she said. “Penn had a tough weekend, and they play each other on Tuesday. Hopefully they’re beating each other up and we can go in fresh.”
Beyond this year, Smith sees the talent and ability in her players to make a long-term impact in the league.
“Every Ivy game is tough,” she said. “We’ve told them over and over in practice and at film sessions that when we go hard and tough, with a high level of intensity on the defensive end, we can play with any team in the league. It has to become a habit. They have to be strong enough as basketball players and as people to do it every night.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Staff Writer