November 29, 2012

2012 WINTER SUPP | Balanced Scoring, Deep Bench Key for Red

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Coming out of its fourth below .500 season in a row, the women’s basketball team has finally had the chance to rebuild. The Red has gone from a sophomore heavy team to a squad led by seniors and juniors who have the experience and camaraderie to bring the team back to the top half of the Ivy League.In her tenth season with the Red, head coach Dayna Smith believes that the nine seniors and juniors she has on the roster this year have what it takes to move the team forward.“They are whose leading us every day, on the court, at practice, off the court,” said Smith. “They’ve played together for so long, they’ve gained a lot of experience through the years and they’ve learned how to lose, they’ve learned how to win.”The Red’s starting five this year consists of two seniors and three juniors: seniors Clare Fitzpatrick and Spencer Lane and juniors Allyson DiMagno, Stephanie Long and Shelby Lyman. With the exception of Maka Anyanwu ‘12, this is the same starting five that took the floor for the Red last year.“Last year was a nice step for this particular group. We have most of our scoring back, most of our minutes played back, and I think that’s what you have been able to see make a difference so far, especially in the close games,”  Smith said.With a record of 3-3 in its tough nonconference schedule so far, the Red’s offense has come from a variety of players. Although junior forward Allyson DiMagno is the only player averaging double figures, the squad has five other players averaging six or more points per game.“We’re not made up of super athletes, and we don’t have one superstar,” said senior forward Clare Fitzpatrick. “We’re a team of balanced scoring.”The Red is also fortunate to have a significant portion of its offense coming from the bench. The squad’s third leading scorer, Taylor Flynn, has come off the bench in all six games, averaging 8.7 points in just 19.7 minutes per game.“We really stress team basketball and our offensive system is not geared towards one person, so we’ve been happy that our scoring has been balanced, and as of late we’ve had some bench scoring,” Smith said. “[Senior guard] Taylor Flynn has come along in the last two games scoring 26 and 15, [senior forward] Kristina Danielak has come in and hit some big baskets for us, [junior guard] Aspen Chandler has come in and hit some 3’s.”Although the offense is starting to come together as a unit, the Red has struggled to score in some of its narrow defeats. Against New Hampshire last Sunday, the Red shot 33 percent from the field, 21 percent from behind the arc and missed 12 free throws. However, the Red turned up its defensive pressure in the second half and fought its way back into the game.“We shot poorly but our defense kept us in the game,” said DiMagno. “It showed us that if we play good defense, we will be in every game we play.”The Red forced 19 turnovers as a team in the game.“We know we can score, but defense is what creates our offense,” Fitzpatrick said. “Making teams feel uncomfortable is what will create our transition game and help us move into our offense.”According to Smith, the squad’s strong man-to-man pressure was what kept it in the game.“We pressed a lot, we had a very intense man-to-man, that was probably our best man-to-man defense that we played in the half court the whole season so I was really happy with that,” she said. The Red was also outrebounded that game, and has been outrebounded in all but two of its games so far this season. This has been a focal point for the team, as it struggled to compete on the boards last year as well.“Rebounding is really what killed us last season. We played a lot of zone and it’s harder to rebound out of a zone,” Smith said.“Although we’ve made some strides, if we can get our rebounding to come full circle, it will definitely go a long way,” DiMagno — who is averaging a double-double in her first six games — added. With the start of Ivy League play lurking in the distance, the Red’s nonconference schedule serves as a jumping off point, a forum for the team to discover where it most needs to improve.“I think this year we have the tools to compete with anybody in the league, we just have to learn in this nonconference season how to be consistent within a game, hold on to leads and finish the small plays,” Smith said. “We want to win, and I think this group is ready to do that, so our expectations are going to be very high.”

Original Author: Scott Chiusano