As the winter season winds down, most teams are honoring seniors and preparing for gaps in the line up next year. For the women’s basketball team, however, the end of 2004-05 season has been a time for the newest members of the program to show their progress.
With six freshmen on a roster of eleven players, the Red knew that the Class of 2008 would play an important role in this year’s campaign. While the jump from high school to college basketball can be intimidating, head coach Dayna Smith thinks the rookies were ready for the challenge.
“I think part of the appeal was that they were going to have the opportunity to play a lot,” she said. “We graduated six seniors — five starters. They knew we were young, they knew everyone was starting on the same ground. All six were anxious about earning playing time.”
Freshman Lindsey Krasna set an example from the start, earning seven Ivy League rookie of the week awards and leading the Red in minutes and points this season.
“For Lindsey, she was put in a little early because of early illness to [junior] Sarah Brown,” Smith said. “She just responded — she was nervous, but she had the skills and the competitive drive to take on the challenge.”
And while Krasna’s classmates may not put up equal numbers, their growth and contribution to the team has also progressed.
“The others had preseason injuries and not as much practice and conditioning, which hurt them in the end,” Smith said. “It’s tough to make the adjustment. Each has had her own learning curve.”
Freshman Morgan Dickens and classmate Megan Hughes have been on the same track, piling up minutes and learning how to play the more physical inside game of the Ivy League. The only upperclassmen post players for the Red were junior Brittani Rettig, who suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s second practice, and sophomore Amy Lyon, who saw limited action her freshman year. Dickens peaked with a 10-point performance against Harvard on Feb. 19.
“Morgan and Megan have really been thrown into the fire,” Smith said. “We really expected a lot of them, and it probably wasn’t fair to them, but we had no choice. It’s been difficult because of size. They’ve done a great job how they’ve helped us on defense and getting points and shots.”
Dickens and Hughes rank first and second, respectively, in blocks for the Red and have been consistently crashing the boards all season. Both have been faced with task of guarding post players who are taller, heavier and have the advantage of experience.
Freshman Gretchen Gregg has found her niche in the last few weeks, turning in four consecutive double-digit performances, including her first career double-double against Penn this past weekend, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She was the first guard on the team to record a double-double this year. The next night she scored 14 points again, and added eight rebounds, a block, and a steal. For these performances, Gregg was recognized as the Ivy League rookie of the week.
“With Gretchen, we knew she was a shooter,” Smith said. “She needed to get a little bit of confidence. We learned all the team defense and offense when she was out with an injury, so she didn’t have a true feel for it. She’s coming into her own, playing great the past four games. This weekend she was all over on offense, not afraid to shoot.”
According to Smith, the remaining members of the Class of 2008 — freshmen Melissa Kollonige and walk-on Christen Weaver — have made an impact in the ways that can’t be measure by numbers. Smith counts their positive attitudes among the greatest assests of the team.
The freshmen are quickly gaining the maturity and experience necesssary to build a successful college team.
“Practice is going more smoothly, drills are going more smoothly,” Smith said. “We’re still trying to find the right chemistry on the court. We found it this weekend — Gretchen was hitting threes, Morgan was playing key minutes. There was no let-down when they came in.”
With two games left in the season, Smith feels the freshmen have found their place on the team.
“They’re really not freshmen anymore,” she said. “Halfway through the year they earned their stripes. Now they’re just basketball players.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Staff Writer