With the start of the season right around the corner, the expectations for women’s basketball coach, Ben Conrad, and his players are very high. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, they believe the team is a strong contender for the national title.
After the 19-20 winning season of 28-5 (.848 PCT), Conrad said he had high hopes for the upcoming season, and with new COVID-19 protocols, the dynamic of the season will be different than the past seasons.
“I think it all creates a fatigue for all of us that isn’t normally there, so in that respect, maybe some,” Conrad said. “But everyone is dealing with similar issues, so no one really has a totally normal environment to play in.”
In sophomore LaJahda Boyland’s eyes the protocols impact is significant. The effect of not having crowds can change the game’s tone.
“The game’s atmosphere is way different because it is just you and the other team,” Boyland said.
Boyland also had her initial concerns about playing in the middle of a pandemic.
“I was kind of scared about playing at first,” Boyland said. “But once I saw how they are running everything and how much precaution they are taking, it made me more comfortable.”
On the other hand, sophomore Gabby Fuller said she is comfortable with playing in the middle of a pandemic if teams are following the protocols.
“Yes, pretty much, if we are doing the right thing and the other teams are following the rules,” Fuller said.
The Cavaliers are going into this season with a reshaped roster. The team consists of four returnees, 12 newcomers and one transfer student. Both Fuller and Boyland said being outnumbered by freshman is a challenge and the importance of leading them, as sophomore players, is key to success.
“[We’re] depending on our sophomores, me and the other girls, to help lead the freshman to victory,” Boyland said. “That is the plan.”
Following the plan, Fuller intends to help leading the freshman to the title.
“I would say helping with leadership with the other sophomores and motivating them,” Fuller said.
The expectations established by the players and coaches are promising.
“I think we have been contenders most years over the past decade or so,” Conrad said. “This year is no different.”
Boyland agreed the Cavaliers are contenders coming into the season.
“Absolutely, I think the Cavaliers are contenders every single year,” said Boyland. “It comes down to us being right for 40 minutes.”
With expectations set, the players and coaches seem confident and ready to start. The season opener was on Jan. 23 against the Southeast Community College.
By Matheus Camossa