By ANDREW JOHNSON
The Hopkins Women’s Basketball team routinely challenges for the Centennial Conference crown, and coming into this season, expectations are once again high for this talent laden squad.
This year’s iteration returns the top three scorers from last year’s team, which compiled a 16-9 overall mark, including an impressive 13-5 in the Centennial Conference.
Led by second team Centennial Conference standouts seniors Beatriz Williams and Katie Clark, and Honorable Mention All Centennial performer senior Liz Tommasi, the team is experienced and battle-tested which should make noise in conference play and contend for a championship.
The keys which will ultimately determine this team’s ceiling include the ability of its three standout seniors to deliver repeat performances and perhaps even grow as players, while fostering and developing the younger players on the team into solid contributors or even impact stars.
Standout guard Clark, who last year averaged second on the team in points scored per game with 9.1, discussed the intense training and preparation the Lady Jays undertook during the offseason.
“This year our team worked really hard in the off season to be ready when the time for season to start rolled around,” Clark said. “We had morning lifts and conditioning two days a week in order to be in the best physical shape for season. We also played pickup together two to three times a week so that we were still playing basketball and also getting to know each other’s tendencies, which was especially important this year given that we have eight freshman on the team.”
As Clark mentioned, while the team has a talented and senior-laden starting five, the bench is filled primarily with young and ascending, if untested talent.
The learning curve for freshman adapting to the college game is usually high, so it will be tough to expect significant contributions from any of the eight most inexperienced players on the roster.
Therefore the team will rely on the growth and development of some of the other experienced veterans on their roster to make big contributions this season.
Primed for expanded minutes heading into her junior campaign, guard Caroline Corcoran told The News-Letter that while the team has big expectations for its season, the players must remain focused and not get ahead of themselves.
“We do have our long term goals, but we are taking it one game at a time and looking forward to our opening game on Saturday. Our team and coaching staff have been working very hard in practice, and we are excited for the season to start this weekend,” Corcoran said.
The Jays open their season this upcoming Saturday Nov. 21 at 1 p.m., as they play host to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford panthers at Goldfarb Gym.
The first Centennial Conference bout of the season will take place on Nov. 24, when Hopkins travels to Gettysburg College to take on an ascending Bullets squad.
Other notable games on the slate include contests against the Muhlenberg College Mules at home on Jan. 9 and away on Feb. 6.
The Mules defeated the Blue Jays 56-46 in the opening round of the Centennial Conference tournament last season, and the Jays will surely be looking to get vengeance.
In terms of goals for the season, according to Clark, they are nothing short of ambitious. However this team appears capable of facing any challenges that are thrown their way.
“For the upcoming season, our team wants to win a conference championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Clark said, “To get there, we need to continue to work hard each day, working together and focusing on the details, so that we are continuing to improve as a team over the course of the long season.”
Watch out for the Lady Jays this season to combine their key seasoned veterans with an enormous influx of youth that may just be enough to get them deep in the playoffs come the end of the regular season.