Photo by Aaron Levenson ‘15
It has been eight months now. Eight months have passed since that heartbreaking overtime loss to Navy in the Patriot League Tournament.
For Lafayette women’s basketball, those eight months must of felt like ages. Back and forth that game went. The lead was exchanged 24 times. Lafayette had second seeded Navy on the brink of elimination.
But ever since that moment when the buzzer rang to mark both the end of the game and Lafayette’s season, the focus has been on the 2013-2014 season. And that begins tonight against Rider in the Kirby Sports Center.
This offseason, senior captains Kristan Liddle, Danielle Fiacco and Maddie Fahan created the theme for this season: ‘All In.’
“Stay focused, stay in the moment, and go toe-to-toe with our opponents,” Head Coach Dianne Nolan explained. “We had good stretches and bad stretches, we were inconsistent. To make that next step we have to play as hard as we can every time we are out on the floor”
Nolan highlighted the strong offseason the team had, one which began with spring workouts. Each player was given her own individual goals to strive towards.
One player who stood out in particular was junior guard Linnel Macklin.
“She took her workout seriously and came back in good shape,” Nolan said. “She was able to play in a high profile summer league and mature as a player.”
“She knew it was her time.”
This offseason also featured an interesting new dynamic. Each player was assigned to read Jay Bilas’s Toughness and Kevin Pritchard’s Help the Helper. Both assignments were aimed to help the team continue to turn the corner in preparation for the grind of the season.
With all five starters returning from a team that showed steady progression throughout last season, Nolan is not shy about her goals and expectations.
“Our goal quite frankly is to get to the top of the league,” Nolan said. “We want to host a home playoff game which is something that Lafayette has never done before.”
Nolan and her squad are aware of the run the men’s team made late last season, utilizing home court advantage en route to a Patriot League championship game berth. They intend to do the same.
To make that run though, the team will rely heavily on its anchor down low in Fiacco. The senior center was second on the team last season with 10.5 points per game. Her play may be even more important on the defensive end – Fiacco was fifth in the nation with 101 blocks last season.
Alongside Fiacco is junior forward Emily Homan. Homan led the team in points with 10.9 per game and hopes to build on a strong sophomore campaign.
In the backcourt, sophomore Jaime O’Hare is primed to make the big step forward that usually comes in a player’s second year. O’Hare led the team with 35 3-pointers last season and 73 assists as point guard.
Alongside a veteran heavy team is a class of four freshmen. Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby ‘17 adds depth at the center position and Jayla Waller ‘17 is a quicker guard who will draw the matchup of the opposing teams fastest guard.
“I can see all four of them getting on the floor, and then we’ll see how much they can contribute,” Nolan added.
In Nolan’s third year as head coach and her system officially in place, the players are ‘All-In.’
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight.