By Josie Clemens
The 2018-19 season for the Presentation College Saints women’s basketball team is in sight as the team prepares with energy and enthusiasm for the possibilities of this upcoming season.
“We have very high hopes and expectations for this season,” head coach Eric Nelson said.
Last year, the women’s basketball team set a program record for wins in a season with 12. The team broke the school record for conference wins (8) last season as well. Breaking two records elevates the expectations of the team, which is only elevated by the impressive recruiting class that had joined the Saints for this season.
“I think we have more talent and more depth this year than we did last year. That doesn’t mean we will win more games. We have the players to up our win total from last year, but we still have to continue to get better and work as a team,” Nelson said.
As the team dynamic shifts from year to year depending on the talent and personalities of individual players, Nelson needs to develop a strategy that works best for both the new and the returning athletes on the team. Losing key players from last year and gaining new athletes for the current season both factor in to establishing the team chemistry and planning strategies for the games.
With a shorter line-up during last season, the women relied on playing a 1-3-1 zone defense and focused on their perimeter offense. Because of the height of the new recruits this year, Nelson is focusing on a man-to-man defense and a versatile offense between the posts and guards. This inside-out strategy creates easier shots for the guards around the perimeter and less pressure for the posts in the paint.
Nelson and the assistant coaches, Jim Boyd and Spencer Christenson, were able to see the effectiveness of these strategies in a scrimmage against a community college in Bismarck that took place Oct. 17 in the Strode Activity Center. The scrimmage allowed the Saints to experience game-like situations and a game-like intensity that practice simply could not provide. One main goal for the scrimmage was to get the players into a game mindset and to learn from the inevitable mistakes that happen at game speed. Filming the game helped the athletes review each possession and see first-hand the key areas that need to be fixed individually and as a team.
“We have a lot of new players this year, so it will take a little time for everyone to gel and get on the same page. It is hard to replicate game speed in practice, so it was nice to play against another team before we start the season,” Nelson said.
The women’s basketball team has been conditioning, lifting and practicing since the second week of classes. Each day the athletes put in a great deal of work to prepare for the upcoming season. The season opener takes place in Jamestown, N.D., against Jamestown University on Wednesday, Oct. 24. This game will be a big test early in the season for the Saints, as the Jimmies were ranked nationally last season.
The second and third games for the Saints will be held at the Strode Center against Providence College Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27. The following weekend, the basketball team travels to Sioux Falls for the SD NAIA Classic at the Sanford Pentagon where they will play back to back Saturday and Sunday against Dakota Wesleyan University and Mount Marty College.
For the complete 18-19 season schedule, click here.
Overall, the basketball team will continue to work hard and find ways to excel through every drill, every practice, and every game to reach their three team goals – win every home game, win the NSAA conference and make it to the National Tournament.
“I think I am most excited to see this team gel together, play good basketball and beat the records that were set last year…Hopefully we can continue to get better all season and compete for a NSAA championship late in the year,” Nelson said.
Coaches Nelson, Boyd and Christenson along with the rest of the Saints’ women’s basketball team appreciate your support and hope to see you at the games.