Outside Victory: the Scots look to win in the Playoffs

By Jamie Macpherson

The women’s basketball team has a lot to be proud of. Six years ago, the program was nonexistent. This year the team has become the team to beat, tied for first in the MIAC with Concordia and Gustavus Adolphus. “We are pleased with our success this season,” coach Ellen Thompson said. “We have very good players who have worked extremely hard, both during the off season and during the season itself. It’s a fantastic group of athletes; hard working, dedicated and a lot of fun to be around!”

“To be doing so well this season feels awesome,” Jessica Ramirez ’11 agreed. “We’ve all worked so hard these past few years to rebuild the program and it is finally paying off.”

Captain Ann Baltzer ’10 attributes the team’s long-term success to their coach. Thomson, a former St. Thomas player, rebuilt the program from virtually nothing.

“Really since Ellen’s been here, every year has been an improvement,” Baltzer said.

Baltzer is one of the last members of the original start-up team, who played in the gym prior to its remodeling and experienced the transitional period of playing without a home court. She described the team as a “random” assortment, with a dancer and soccer player as part of the starting line-up. They were the underdogs, she recalled, with no one expecting much of anything from them.

“We still remember what it feels like to lose more games than we won, and that’s what made us as good as we are now,” she said.

Another factor in this season’s success is the contribution coming from the outside players, Baltzer said. She credits twins Shannon and Jessica Rene ’12 for their outside shooting, saying it’s an effective solution for when opponents mark centers and forwards tightly.

The team has had their share of problems, however. With a string of injuries, and Majra Mucic ’11 studying abroad, the team has had to make adjustments in its line-up.

The schedule is also extremely rigorous. The Scots often play three games a week, making it difficult to do too much heavy training. The intensity of the season, combined with building the bench depth over the past four years has taken its toll on the juniors and seniors on the team. Ramirez will be undergoing surgery later this semester for her second ACL tear. And she is not the only player who has suffered.

“I have a bum hip,” said Baltzer, laughing. “I’m very old.”

The women also got off to a rocky start in preseason, losing all three of their games. Both Thompson and Baltzar attributed the loses to the team needing more time to connect with each other and gain confidence on the court. Thompson also pointed out that the preseason games were against Non-MIAC opponents.

“[W]e played strong teams,” she said. “We wanted to challenge ourselves in the preseason in order to be ready for the conference season. We didn’t change anything that we were doing, we just started executing better and feeling more confident in what we were doing on the court.”

Despite all this, the Scots remain positive and determined. They pride themselves as being a level-headed and unified team. Thomson cited strong senior leadership and good team cooperation. She provided the team with their motto: “One arrow alone can be broken. But a bundle of ten cannot.”

With all the other teams in the MIAC looking to beat Macalester out of its hard-earned top spot, the Scots will have to fight hard to finish first in the conference. Baltzer spoke of the challenge needing to anticipate opponents strategies created in reponse to their last metting with the Scots. But Ramirez isn’t concerned about their ability to deliver.

“I think our work ethic, team dynamic, determination, and superb coaching staff are what make us stand out,” she said. “I love this team and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. I’m really looking forward to the second half of the season!