Last year, Ladies basketball had a phenomenal season, finishing 18-9 and third in the conference, behind regionally-ranked DePauw and Denison Universities. This season, expanding on last year’s successes will not be as easy as it sounds.
As Bailey Dominguez ’17 recalled, last year’s success was a surprise following a 7-18 record the prior year. “We’re confident, but it is going to be a little different because last year we were kind of the underdogs,” Dominguez said. “People were not expecting to have to give us their best game.”
With nine of the Ladies’ top -10 players returning, the team has very high expectations. “We are very optimistic,” Head Coach Suzanne Helfant said.
What will really benefit the Ladies as they look to go from underdog to top dog is what Helfant calls their greatest strength: their depth. “We are gonna have a rotation of 10-plus players,” she said. “We’re not going to lose anything when we make substitutions.”
Dominguez echoed the coach’s all-around confidence in the entire team to perform well, remarking that you can hardly see a difference in practice when the starting five goes up against the next five.
This strength will come in handy when dealing with the Ladies’ two biggest opponents, the first and second teams in the conference last year: Denison and DePauw. Dominguez said these would be must-win games, but Helfant took a slightly different perspective. “The teams that scare me the most are the ones we are supposed to beat,” she said. In other words, every game will be important this year for the ambitious team of veteran Ladies.
This year, the Ladies will aim to match Denison and DePauw. “I think we were very, very close last year,” Helfant said.
“I think we are right there,” Dominguez agreed. The difference between those teams and the Ladies, Dominguez said, is that Denison and DePauw have been established as preeminent programs, while the Ladies have only recently emerged as a formidable force within the conference.
The season officially kicks off on Nov. 15 with a home game against Muskingum University. The Ladies’ schedule will include tough conference matches, as well as a much tougher nonconference schedule than in years past, including a tournament in Phoenix, Ariz.
“As far as the first game goes,” Helfant said, “we just hope we go out and play good, intense basketball.”
Intensity is the key, according to Dominguez. “We just want to make sure that we’re the aggressors,” she said.
A preview of the Lords basketball team will run in next week’s issue of the Collegian. The Lords play their first home game on Nov. 22 against Earlham College.