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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Women’s Basketball finds early success

Though most of Grinnell might be struggling through the dead of winter, the women of Darby Gym are really coming alive.  

The Women’s Basketball team won their first conference opener since 2005 with their win over Beloit College last weekend, and they demonstrated to Ripon College, the defending Midwest Conference (MWC) champion, that this Grinnell team would no longer provide them with easy wins. After going only 4-19 last year, the team is well on their way to eclipsing that win total and they’ve only played six games. This year’s early success is all part of the plan for Head Coach Kate Gluckman.

“To be able to compete and win in those really close games is what I want our trademark to be and we’re doing that,” Gluckman said. “We’ve had some close games this year…and that’s exciting.”

It is an excitement that has swept throughout the entire team and as a result, players said, the intensity and camaraderie on the team has drastically improved.

“After the [Beloit] game everyone came into the locker room and everyone was so crazy,” Center Michelle Briggs ’13 said. “In the Ripon game, the second half was the most difficult, because we knew we could definitely have that game but it just started to slip away.“

Gluckman, who is in the middle of her second season as Head Coach, sees this team as laying the foundation for years to come. Like any team on the rise, they know they’re going to have a few setbacks, and the big wins might not always happen.

“It would have been great to beat Ripon, but did I expect it? Not really,” Gluckman said.

But the source of the team’s success is due to two main factors that can only improve in the coming years. The first factor is that Gluckman wants to make sure every player that comes to Grinnell develops within her system so that they do not have to ride on their incoming players every year.

“I don’t want to be a coach that just recruits, recruits, recruits,” Gluckman said. “So we’re seeing the help of our new players but also the development of our old players…and that’s why were improving.”

In addition, the team has put together a new offensive scheme, one that highlights the team’s versatility, making their style of play unpredictable for opponents.

“The biggest component of the offense that has improved is we now run a triangle offense, where there are multiple options off of it,” Forward Jessica Shotts ’10 said. “We can go into the post to Michelle [Briggs] and if they start double teaming here we have a lot of good shooters on the perimeter who can hit shots. It helps a lot because teams can’t scout us and say this is Grinnell’s tendency, because we have so many different options on offense.”

This is not the first Grinnell team to make such a dramatic turnaround this year. During the fall sports season, the Grinnell Women’s Volleyball team posted a record of 14-19 and made the MWC tournament after only winning seven games last year. But the similarities in situation and goals between the two teams were not lost on Gluckman, and she has used to the Volleyball team as a prime example of what she wants her team to accomplish.

“I thought that Volleyball had a very inspirational season,” Gluckman said. “We talked about that at the beginning of our season in terms of how they progressed and the challenges that had to overcome as a program. It shows what a sense of team can do for you.”

The team has one game before Winter Break instead of a scheduled two due to cancellation, and it’s their goal to finish out this first half of the season on a high note. Their game versus Knox College has been postponed until Feb. 18, but the Pioneers face Wartburg College at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Darby Gym.  

“I expect to get [one] W this week. I think that we played two very good games last weekend and…Wartburg better come ready to play.” Guard Karen Gogins ’13 said.

According to Gluckman, if her team is able to get the wins they’re supposed to win and continue to win at home, they might have a shot at making the MWC tournament this year. 

“Ultimately, it has always been a goal for us to make it to the Conference championship, and with us 1-1 in conference play, if we play like we can all season we will definitely make it to the top four in the conference,” Shotts said.

But even if the team can’t make it to the tournament this year, they are building the foundation that will allow them to in the future.  

“[It’s] my hope that these first years would [play for the MWC Championship by their senior year],” Gluckman said. “I truly believe that every team adds to the success of future teams. The team last year set this year up for us. It’s going to take a lot more work, but I do believe [the team] has the talent to do it.”

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