November 9, 2011

W. BASKETBALL | Fresh Start Awaits Red in 2011-12

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The women’s basketball team prepares for its season opener after struggling through the 2010-11 campaign.After a rebuilding year in the 2010-11 season in which the Red used sophomores and juniors as its starters, the team graduated only one senior. Now with a year of experience under their belts, the players are ready to take to the court and build upon what they have already learned.“[The team] did a nice job of learning a lot of lessons down the last stretch [of last season],” said head coach Dayna Smith of last year’s squad. “We played better basketball towards the second half of the season. It’s good to see the upperclassmen in a different place now, athletically and physically, and competing for time.”Cornell won its first exhibition game against McGill on Sunday.“We saw some good things, especially from our first six or seven players,” Smith said. “Our half court defense was very strong … [the team did a] nice job with transition offense. We have some room to grow and need to do a better job scoring … we have to work on finishing some plays. But it was good.”Last season the team had trouble finishing games. The Red lost nine of its games after having the lead at halftime. The team is still young, with only two seniors and four juniors, but Smith and the players are confident they can build on their experiences of last year.“Last year … we didn’t know how to win,” Smith said. “We want to change that mentality. When we’re up, extend the lead. When it’s a close game, stay composed … build a killer instinct. We want to rely on people who have been there before, people that can step up.”“We want to go into every game with a positive attitude, that we can — that we will — win,” said senior forward Allie Munson. The team’s first regular-season test comes this weekend, when the Red travels to Virginia to face William & Mary on Friday in Williamsburg and Longwood on Sunday in Farmville. William & Mary, who didn’t graduate many seniors last year, either, is expected to be a very athletic and aggressive team. The Red defeated Longwood last year at home.“We want to start this season on a good note,” Munson said. “We’re looking for a fast paced game … with a solid effort on both ends — defense and offense.”The team will particularly focus on consistency and execution on offense this weekend, and throughout the season, according to Smith.“We want to be strong with the ball, and finish plays … with layups, shots and offensive rebounds,” she said.This weekend will also provide a chance for the more experienced players to prove themselves as leaders, as the team has yet to name captains for this year.“We need consistency from some of our top players across the board,” Smith said. “We haven’t really seen somebody take the team on their shoulders and lead us. As the line up unfolds, we’ll start to see leadership on the court … when the going gets tough, we want someone to calm us down — someone that can step up.”This weekend is also an opportunity for the team to dictate the direction of the 2011-12 season. The players hope to show that they are ready to be a competitive team in the Ivy League.“We’re really excited to gauge where we are,” Smith said. “We’re trying to find an identity as far as our style … you can see it emerging at practice, but we’re excited to get on the road and get the year going.”

Original Author: Rebecca Velez