Young women’s basketball team faces Bucknell

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

The BG women’s basketball team will kick off its 2014-15 season this Friday, Nov. 14, with an entirely new team than Falcon fans are accustomed to seeing.

The Falcons will take on a veteran Bucknell University team at 6 p.m. in the Stroh Center. Prior to tipoff, this past year’s Mid-American Conference champions will receive their championship rings and welcome back Jillian Halfhill, Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein to the Stroh one more time.

Following the team’s exhibition match against Davis and Elkins Nov. 7, head coach Jennifer Roos said she was pleased with her team’s effort, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

“Hopefully we’ve learned a lot from that exhibition game in addition to our practices this week,” Roos said. “We’re playing a team in Bucknell that’s extremely similar to Davis and Elkins that’s extremely intelligent.”

In the 88-36 exhibition win, the Falcons saw balanced minutes and scoring as each player scored. Junior Miriam Justinger said it was a good trial run to prepare for Friday.

“Everybody saw action, everybody scored, so it was a good first run to get some of the jitters out and see who is going to play well with who,” she said. “Most importantly, we got the freshmen out there to have them see the Stroh action for the first time.”

The Falcons will look to play the same way against Bucknell as they did this past week.

“I think our big thing [against Davis and Elkins] was to come out right away and have a lot of energy,” sophomore Rachel Konieczki said. “In previous scrimmages we didn’t come out strong and we weren’t into it as much as we should be. Having that mentality we had in the exhibition game will help us Friday.”

The matchup will also be Bucknell’s first official game of the season. This past season, the Bison finished with an overall record of 16-14 and received a bid to the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The team returns its leading scorer and rebounder in senior Audrey Dotson who averaged 16.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.

With Bucknell’s ability to score in the paint, the young BG front court will have to overcome its youth to compete. Sophomore Abby Siefker, who averaged 1.7 points per game off the bench this past season, started at center for the Falcons in their exhibition game.

“We’re young in our front court, and I think they’ve got a lot of experience coming back and they’ve got a lot of good chemistry in that position,” Roos said. “We’ve worked hard in our preparation and continuing just to play hard at both ends of the floor with such a young team.”

Siefker is not the only Falcon who has seen her role expand with the start of a new season. Classmate Konieczki also averaged just 1.8 points per game off the bench this past year, but started at point guard against Davis and Elkins.

“It’s definitely a different role, but at the same time I come into the game, whether it’s off the bench or starting, and I just want to make my team the best they can be and try to get a win for them,” Konieczki said. “ I play more minutes, but the way I’m playing isn’t going to change.”

Justinger, now an upperclassman, has also seen her role sift slightly. Toward the end of this past season, she saw a few minutes at the four spot. She returned to the post through much of the second half against Davis and Elkins.

“It’s tough. You’ve got to know more positions, all the plays at more positions, but being an upperclassman, you’re willing to take on whatever role coach needs from you,” she said. “I’m taking it as a challenge and hopefully be successful at it.”

Though the team is young, that does not change its mentality.

“Coach Roos has stressed we are going to be one of the hardest working teams,” Justinger said. “Even though we’re young, we plan on working hard to outwork the other team.”

The team will try to overcome its youth on the floor by putting in the work before even stepping on the court by scouting. By knowing the other team and its plays and players, the Falcons won’t have to worry about its age, Justinger said.

“We’re a young team and everybody has been saying that, but the chemistry is really coming together on and off the floor,” she said. “With a young team, its just a day-by-day growing thing and so far it’s been going pretty good.”