On Nov. 15, the women’s basketball team will host Anderson University in their first game of the season. Last season, the Brits finished sixth out of nine teams in the MIAA. However, Head Coach Doreen Carden says the team is trying to get back on the winning track like the team was when she began coaching at Albion during the 2001-2002 school year.
“We’re trying to get back to the winning ways when I first came to Albion,” said Carden. “We have to make sure we do a better job of building and maintaining the culture we had back then.”
Of the 15 varsity players, six are first-years, and Carden is looking for them to contribute right away. Their contributions will come with help from the upperclassmen, both on and off the court.
“I think [the upperclassmen] remember what it was like to be a first-year and what they’re going through,” said Carden. “Outside of the court, they try to do things as a group to get to know each other. They do a great job of helping the first-years out in practice and [are] really pushing them to compete at the highest level.”
In the preseason poll conducted by the MIAA, the coaches picked Albion to finish fifth out of nine teams. Hope College received seven out of nine first-place votes, and Trine University received the other two. Hope won the MIAA regular season and tournament championship last season.
With a fairly young team, the Brits have more depth this year, which Carden feels will help them be able to run and press more than they have in previous years. She says they’ve been more of a sit-back kind of team, but she hopes that will change this year.
Olivia Savage, a senior guard from Macomb, Michigan, says the new offensive strategy this year has helped her become more offensively-minded. Instead of just one main scorer, the new offense involves each player on the court.
“While my previous job was to get the ball to the scorer,” says Savage, “this offense allows [me] and everyone else to look to score more.”
As Savage said, the new offense is designed to get more players opportunities to score by involving everyone on the court, not just a top scorer. However, Savage believes the defensive side of the ball is the key to knocking off top-ranked teams like Hope and Trine.
“Defense has been a big focus of ours this year,” said Savage. “If we can pressure those teams into turnovers and control the pace of the game, then I think we have a good chance.”
The last MIAA championship for the Brits was in the 2004-2005 season when they finished 14-2 in MIAA play. Although the goal may be an appearance in the conference tournament, some of the goals off the court are just as important. Each year, the Brits strive to make the MIAA academic honor roll, and their involvement in community service activities is very important to them.
“We do a good job in the community,” said Carden, “and we try to win the community service award within the athletic department.”
Something different the team is trying this year is not assigning specific captains. According to Savage, she says that for each practice, there’s a different upper and lower-classman leader to show each individual what it takes to be a captain, as well as the different responsibilities that come with it.
The Brits will open their season against Anderson University (Ind.) on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Albion’s Kresge Gymnasium. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Albion Athletics.