Doreen Carden, women’s varsity basketball coach, is no stranger to adversity. From the time she first began coaching at Albion, Carden led the team from 4-21 to a 17-9 record and has since taken the reins to a program posting seven straight winning seasons. With a strengthening conference and the issues of coping with a young roster, however, Carden faces what could be her biggest challenge yet: the possibility of her first losing season.
As of Feb. 10, the Britons have a 10-10 record, with three games left before the MIAA tournament. All games are against opponents that the Britons have defeated earlier in the season, but with the unpredictability of conference play, no game is a guaranteed win.
“This season has been really crazy with so many upsets and everyone pretty much beating everyone,” Carden said. “We need to take it one game at a time, hopefully win out and see what the rest of the league does.”
Due to lack of experience, players have struggled knowing what to anticipate out of opponents. Out of the 14 members of the team, seven are first-year players. Without the knowledge of how to match up against opponents, preparing and practicing for conference games is difficult.
“It’s hard to know what to really expect out of other teams,” said Courtney Teske, Niles first-year. “We really don’t know how to prepare for certain games and who really to look out for.”
Though their roster is young, they have received a contribution out of the young players in their line-up.
Starters first-years Claire Cannon, Chippewa Valley first-year, and Nichole Dennis, Lakeview first-year, have received a lot of notoriety not only in the line-up, but also in the MIAA as well. So far, the duo has posted a combined 17.5 points and 5.4 rebound per game, earning them both MIAA Player of the Week honors earlier in the season. This came as a great surprise for Carden.
“Being first-years, you don’t really know what to expect from them at the beginning of the season,” Carden said. “We knew they would see playing time, but we didn’t expect them to make such an impact to our line-up.”
Finding leadership has been tough for the young team’s development. Stephani Croad, Parma senior, and Brittany Kemperman, Grand Rapids junior, are the only upperclass students on the roster.
Croad, however, has been sidelined since the beginning of the season with leg injury.
“We’re making a lot of young mistakes,” Carden said. “We need someone who can lead on the court and show the underclass students what the conference is all about. It’s just been tough when the only senior on our roster has been out with an injury all season.”
The team is currently tied with Alma for fifth place in the conference.
Albion is closing in on gaining home court advantage for the MIAA tournament.
In order for the Britons to lock in home court ad, the team would have to finish at least fourth, edging themselves ahead of Adrian who leads the Britons by 1.5 games.
Though the Lady Brits are in a close race to finish in the top four, their overall goals have been set in a slightly different direction.
Carden has put a high emphasis on improving on minor aspects of the game.
“Our biggest challenge is getting our players to compete,” Carden said. “We need to quit worrying about wins and losses and focus on getting better and looking more at doing the small things right. It’s all about bringing everything together as a team.”