Returning for his tenth season as the women’s basketball head coach, Steve Bruce takes the court with his team during their second week of practice. Coaching alongside Bruce are Assistant Coaches Mike Pott, and former players Emily Strilich and Elyse Lefebvre.
As the season quickly approaches, Bruce makes the point that there is definitely a sense of youth on the team, with only two seniors on a roster of 12.
“Our team is young, but in an odd way our team is experienced, because we had such a big group of new kids last year and they got a lot of valuable experience,” Bruce said, regarding the five sophomores on the team and the playing time they received throughout the 2014-2015 season.
As for the freshmen on the team, Bruce discussed their quickness to adjust and their smooth transition onto the team. Seniors Jackie Stalder and Emily Peppers-VanNamee will serve as the team’s captains for the 2015-2016 season.
“Those two are great; they’ve worked hard and shown great leadership through their actions, which is really the most important way to lead,” Bruce said. “But they’ve also shown great leadership verbally. Our team is in good hands this year with those two being captains. If they continue to come into practice working hard and trying to get better with each day, the pieces are all here for this to be a really good team.”
Bruce said the Titans, yet untested, must focus on unity as they approach their first game.
“Something that needs to happen—that all teams need to have happen to be great—is they’ve got to stay unified. They’ve got to stay together. They’ve got to be able to handle adversity together,” he said. “Right now, nothing’s difficult. You know we haven’t played any games. We haven’t faced any adversity. But I think the group’s tight, and I think they’ll handle that well because we talk about it a lot while trying to prepare.”
Taking a step off of the court, the women’s team also holds honors academically. For the past five years the team has been listed on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll.
“The group is really an outstanding group and not just basketball-wise, but academically,” he said.
Working up to the season opener, the team will continue their workup of basketball drills, from offensive and defensive work to setting screens and working on plays to prepare for the opening of their season. The season is set to open at home on October 24 against Governor’s State University.
“If they continue to work hard and be selfless,” Bruce said, “then we have a chance to be pretty darn good.”