Paradigm shift

Rachel Robertson

Women’s team looks to continue culture change in second half

Much like the weather outside, the women’s basketball team fell cold for most of the winter break. In a full schedule of games, the team dropped seven of their nine contests over the interim.

Games against Army and Holy Cross not withstanding, the Leopards have pushed many teams until the end however, posting close results even when another tally was added to the loss column.

While a variety of factors such as poor free throw shooting and high turnovers contributed to Lafayette’s shortcomings during this stretch, in almost all of them the Leopards got off to a slow start.

“We got in a really bad habit of digging ourselves into a hole and making it harder for ourselves. Having to fight back [a lot],” junior forward Ashley Lutz said.

But just like the few 60-degree days Easton has seen in the past month, the team’s season has still had its bright spots.

“Our confidence definitely has grown immensely [compared to past seasons],” senior guard Jamie O’Hare said. Maintaining that confidence will be crucial for success in the rest of the season.

“The key is keeping up our intensity and just keeping up our confidence and our trust in each other,” Lutz said. “We came so close all those times that going into the second round, those are games we know we can win.”

Certainly the wins such as those against Boston University and American have been satisfying, but it has been the growth and resilience of the team, in which head coach Theresa Grentz has been the most proud.

“We’re making strides… We talk about being women of character and they’ve done that [after tough losses],” Grentz said.

That fight and determination was visible in a 32-8 run while staging a major comeback in the second half of Wednesday rivalry game at Lehigh, but in the end the Leopards could not secure the victory. The loss was another close one with Lafayette losing 82-74.

For Grentz and players like O’Hare and Lutz, the biggest positive from the season has been the change of culture that is in progress. The task of getting the team to believe and trust in themselves cannot be completed in just part of one season. Grentz views the transition as a two- three year process, but the team is well on their way.

“This team is more together. There is more oneness with this team. There is more of ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I,’” Grentz said. “I saw tremendous fight in them in American but the fight was for one cause. It wasn’t a game of ‘quit’ it was one of ‘we can do this’.”

In the meantime as the team enters the month of February, they will look to avenge some of their early Patriot League losses when the second half of the league schedule rolls around.

“We’re about to finish January and go into the absolute worst month of the year, February. I hate February— it’s the shortest month but it’s actually the longest month. I don’t care what your record is,” Grentz said. “It’s a hard month because you are trying your darnedest to get to March.”

Despite the seasonal temperatures, the team will be looking to heat up and surprise some opponents down the stretch.

“Don’t count us out,” O’Hare said. “We’ve grown a lot and we’re going to keep growing. Just expect us to keep fighting. Every game’s going to be very entertaining and interesting. It’s going to be close.” The senior’s thoughts are echoed by her coach when looking forward to the rest of the season.

“They’ve changed their dynamics of what they are looking for because now they believe a little bit more,” Grentz said. “The second half of the season, I don’t think I would want to play Lafayette. We could be very much the spoiler. This team is going to be a very hard team to play, because this team believes.”