Women’s basketball is on a roll
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 17:01
With a series of Southern Students Athletic Conference games looming at this point in the season, the Loyola women’s basketball team has been traveling non-stop, and it has been paying off.
The Wolfpack looks to take on Blue Mountain College and Martin Methodist University; Blue Mountain stands at 3-3 in the conference, while Martin Methodist is at 5-1. Loyola ranks in between the two, coming into this weekend at 4-2.
Although they’ve had much recent success against conference opponents, such as Dillard University and University of St. Thomas, head coach Kellie Kennedy said she still sees room for improvement before these divisional games continue.
“Rebounding has been a focus for us all season. Not boxing out or not crashing the boards has hurt us in past games,” Kennedy said.
The team is ranked #27 in defensive rebounds and #36 in total rebounds per game, which are numbers that Kennedy felt needed much improvement. She also said that offensive output was another key factor for the team’s success coming this year.
“Offensive execution has been another point of emphasis as well. Things like reversing the ball, making better decisions and just being smarter players and playing better together,” Kennedy said.
Though Kennedy said that rest and preparation are critical keys to ensuring a victory and continuing their winning streak, she expressed the utmost confidence in the team’s lone senior, Jasmine Brewer, psychology major.
“She’s providing this team with amazing leadership and I don’t see any of that changing. She’s not the kind of player that will put tremendous pressure on herself, said Kennedy.
“Ultimately, her teammates would want to win a championship for Jas as much as for themselves. She’s got a surrounding cast of great players and they all care about one another,” she said.
And positive leadership is precisely what Brewer said she is relying on to motivate her team.
“The thing that I’ve really wanted to focus on is being a great leader. I want to be there for my teammates, giving that constructive criticism when it’s needed and help to keep our focus,” said Brewer,
“I’m extremely confident in the effort of the team and I know that if we do the small things we’ll be fine,” she said.
In many ways for Brewer, much of this season has been very surreal to her, due to the fact that this will be her final year with the team.
“I try not to think about it because I just want to enjoy it and be in the moment. I know that it’s going to sneak up on me very fast, and I want to play every game like it’s my last,” Brewer said.
Brewer is averaging 13.4 points per game, and leads the team with 8 rebounds per game. It’s Brewer’s leadership and will to win that has also inspired the younger players in the pack, such as communications freshmen Caroline Gonzalez.
“I love the team atmosphere. We work really well together, both on and off the court. It’s really special being a part of a team like this, especially with this being my first year in college,” Gonzalez said.
Even in the midst of some critical conference games underway, Gonzalez said she is confident in herself and her teammates.
“I believe that I bring light to a lot of situations. Although there are things that I can improve, especially defensively, I believe we, as a team, have proven that we can make a deep run in conference this year,” Gonzalez said.
With a keen focus on defense and rebounding dynamics, as well as having the uncompromising leadership of Brewer, these women see no reason why they can’t extend their win streak to six this weekend.
Mark Robinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org