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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

New year, promising outlook for women's basketball

By Jamie Macpherson

Women’s basketball is back, and this year the team is stronger than ever. With new facilities, a deeper bench, and more experience, the Scots are looking to step up their game as the season begins this Saturday with a non-conference match up against Lawrence (Wisconsin). “We are now a more complete team with a more diverse range of players,” Elise Pagel ’09, one of the team captains, said. “We also will have a significantly deeper bench this year. Not only is our bench longer than in years past, but the level of play remains the same as we sub different people in and out. We’re better [this year].”

“I just think we have another year experience,” Head Coach Ellen Thompson said. “We have a lot of players that have played many minutes last year.” She listed returning center Anne Baltzer ’10, forward Trina PaStarr ’10 and guard Eartha Bell ’10 as some of the returning players to watch. “There are many players I expect big things from. . I’m excited.”

The team is aiming to pick up the pace of their game and is looking for more consistent outside threats. Although the team traditionally plays a very strong inside game, the Scots had the lowest percentage of three point shots in the MIAC conference last year. Thompson wants to change that this winter.

“I’m hoping this year we’ll have more contributions from the perimeter and pick up the pace of our game,” she said. “We’ve always been content to slow it down and pound it in, and we’d like to pick it up.”
The game “is probably going to be a little bit faster paced,” Center Suzy Szumowski ’09 said of the upcoming season. “We are really looking to push the ball up in transition.”

Thompson also expects improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

“I think our defense has kept us in games,” she said. “Hopefully now that we have a more offensive punch, we’ll win more games.”

Part of this year’s excitement stems from the large number of talented first-year recruits.

“The freshmen bring tons of talent and energy to our team, as well as the willingness to work hard every day to improve,” Pagel said. “They are incredibly dedicated and committed to making Mac basketball even better; we love them.”

“I think the freshmen will bring a lot to the team,” Guard Jessica Ramirez ’11 said. “They are all great basketball players as well as individuals. And they’re also hardworking, so I’m just excited to see them play.”

There are also a few returning upperclassmen who will be coming off the injured list, Pagel and Danielle Johnson ’10 included, who are expected to contribute to a successful season. Both tore ACLs during last season.

“Elise and Danielle have worked hard to get back,” Thompson said. “and I think that’s going to help us.”

Team members also cite Thompson as a reason for their success. Four years ago, the team was forced out of the MIAC due to its low number of participants. Under Thompson’s coaching, the team has returned to full strength and regained conference status.

“She has basically rebuilt the program from nothing,” Ramirez said of Thompson. “This is her fourth year at Mac and we are finally contenders in the MIAC. She really believes in us and pushes us to do our best and I can only look to the future with excitement.”

Looking back, Pagel is aware of how far the team has come under Thompson’s guidance. “My first year we would play games with only seven people, and often our practice squad was at five or six plus some members of the men’s golf team,” she said. “The majority of the players hadn’t played ball in a while and we were mostly underclassmen.

“Three years later we have 16 talented people on the team and will compete for a spot in the playoffs and a strong finish in the conference.”

Thompson believes it is this growth and experience that will lead to a successful season. “When we start playing we’ll see improvement in each game,” she said. “We’ll see our seniors and juniors lead the way with their experience, and the first-years will just keep improving.

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