For first-year Women’s Basketball head coach Kelly Roysland this season has been full of learning experiences, from getting to know her players to adjusting to competition in the MIAC. “I went into the start of practice [at the beginning of the season], I knew nothing about my players and a lot of them hadn’t really played so it was very new to all us,” Roysland said. “I feel like this year we have made improvements over the course of the season. It hasn’t showed in the win-loss column but I know there has been a lot of growth, both individually and as a team.”
The team is 3-19 on the season and winless in MIAC play; by those numbers it’s been the team’s worst season since 2005-06 when they went 2-21. However, the development and growth of the team and the emerging play of young players has lifted a sense of optimism around the program.
A pair of first years, Regan Fruh and Vivi Gregorich, have made significant contributions for the Scots as the season has progressed. Fruh leads the team in scoring with 11.0 points per game, with Gregorich following at 7.7 ppg. Fruh scored a season high of 23 points in the team’s Feb. 7 loss to Hamline, their second meeting of the year with the Pipers. This match-up against Hamline displays the improvements they have made as a team. In their first clash on January 3rd the Scots dropped the game 38-77; a little more than a month later the final score was only a two-point deficit.
When Roysland talks with her team, she focuses her attention away from the win-loss column and on the components she feels will help build a more competitive program. “We talk about giving ourselves a chance if we follow the game plan, understand personnel and execute what we practice to allow our team to be in it at the end,” Roysland said. “If we do all those things throughout those 40 minutes, that’s all you can ask for is to have an opportunity at the end of the game to have it go your way.”
The emphasis on more competitive, close games shows in an examination of the Scot’s stat sheet. Six of their losses have come by 10 points or fewer. They pushed St. Olaf into overtime on the road. The Scots have also stepped up their shooting, hitting 40 percent of their shots against Hamline and 46 percent against St. Ben’s.
“I feel like we’ve been playing better basketball, especially after the holiday break,” Roysland said. “I think that comes from the girls being comfortable with our system.” Guard Erin Murray ’16 has scored in double digits in three of the last four games and leads in assists with 70 on the season, averaging over three a game. Sophomore forward Park Masterson heads up the Scots in rebounding, pulling down 6.6 per game on average.
Macalester will lose one senior off the squad to graduation. “Annie [Drabot] will be very hard to replace, especially for her leadership skills and her understanding of the team and the program,” Roysland said, praising the forward for stepping up her play, especially with regard to rebounding and defending. “She has a maturity about her that you need on a team but I’m really excited about our younger classes and them learning from someone like her because I think she sets a really great example.”
The Scots have just three games remaining in their season, all against MIAC rivals. Their best chance to pick up a conference win will come at home on February 14 in their annual Think Pink Game against St. Catherine’s, who sits just above Macalester in the MIAC standings.
Regardless of how the team finishes in the win-loss column, Roysland and her young squad know that the experience will pay them dividends down the road.