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September 21, 2023

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Women’s basketball team looks to grow with youth

The 2014-2015 women’s basketball season is right around the corner, but some of the important faces from last season’s 30-5 team have moved on. 

Jillian Halfhill, Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein have all graduated. Now the question is how the Falcons will replace them. 

“I don’t know if you can replace them,” said head coach Jennifer Roos. “They were vital not only to what we did on the floor but with what they accomplished off the floor as well.

Head Coach Jennifer Roos has brought in four freshmen who will need to contribute she said.

While they know they will need to contribute the freshmen are more focused on this year’s team than stepping in and filling those spots left open, freshman Lauren Webb said. 

“It’s not so much on us coming in and filling a spot,” Webb said. “It’s more we are a brand new team and everyone is working hard. We are a completely different team from last year.” 

This year’s women’s basketball team doesn’t only bring in four new freshmen but they will utilize Leah Bolton and Kennedy Kirkpatrick who combined for a total of 24 minutes throughout all of last year due to injuries. 

That gives the Falcons six players who do not have much experience on the floor for them this year. That will make them one of the youngest teams in the Mid-American Conference this year. 

“A lot of coaches look at youth as a problem but the way we look at our youth is room for us to grow,” Roos said. “We are teachers more so this year than last year. We have to turn our youth into a strength as soon as we can.” 

There hasn’t been much of an transition problem for the freshmen this offseason Webb said. 

“It’s easier because of my teammates. From day one they took us in and showed us everything so it was a nice transition,” Webb said.

While the transition to being a part of the team may have been easy there is still a learning curve on the court, Roos said. 

With 12 players on the roster every person on the team is competing for minutes right now. Last season every person who was healthy enough to play [9] averaged at least eight minutes per game. 

“We know we lost three great seniors that really impacted our game,” said senior Jasmine Matthews. “They were great on the court, but we have people who can fill those roles whether it’s upperclassmen or underclassmen. For the most part I feel like people don’t understand that, yeah we are a young team, but there are a lot of keys that others don’t see.” 

While Matthews would not reveal those keys, Roos spoke about how important Erica Donovan and Miriam Justinger will be to the team this year. Both are juniors and played more than 27 minutes a game last year.

Donovan with her versatility can play multiple positions inside and on the wing. The same goes for Justinger who will be called upon a bit more because of her consistent scoring ability.

Donovan doesn’t think much of the pressure though she said. 

“I don’t look at everything I’m accountable for, I just play,” Donovan said. “I learned that you are going to make a mistake and you aren’t going to be perfect.” 

For Justinger the team will be looking for her to be an all-around performer, Matthews said. 

“She [Justinger] will be a key for us,” she said. “She [Justinger] is going to do a lot of different things, the dirty work and on top of that be expected to score every night consistently.” 

This year’s women’s basketball team may have lost three key pieces this offseason but this is a different team and with less experienced players they know they have work to do to be successful once again.

“We have a long way to go in order to have a season like that,” said Matthews. “We can’t get too high or get too low. We have to understand that we worked for every win we had last year and nothing was handed to us.”

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