Fresh start for women’s basketball

Kaelia Neal

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The Linfield women’s basketball team had its ups and downs last season but plans to come out as a new team and finish in the top of the conference.

The Wildcats expect to improve their game, but they say improving themselves as a team is the key to a successful season.

Linfield had the physical potential to be a top conference team last year, but other factors set team members back. With an entirely new coaching staff, Linfield is ready for a fresh start.

“Last season was really rough,” Riley Graham, ’17, said. “I definitely like the feel this year.”

“We weren’t able to have a lot of the team chemistry that we have now,” Jade Everage, ’18, said.

The team wants to focus on how to improve on and off the court. Last year there was not an atmosphere of being a team. But this year the Wildcats say they want to focus on teamwork and play for each other, not themselves.

“The team coming together was a goal we had that we already achieved in two weeks,” Graham said. “It’s fun to come to practice.”

“The new coaching staff has implemented a lot of great pieces, which are already making positive changes to our team as a whole,” Amantha Hood, ’17, said in an email.

“We came back from summer break with a newly painted locker room, a set calendar and strategic plan for everything involving basketball. It’s made our lives easier as student-athletes because when it comes to basketball, all we have to do is come on the court ready to play,” Hood said.

Everage says the new coaching staff will help the team be successful. She says since the coaches are young and have experience playing at the collegiate level, they will aid the team in improving its skills.

Head coach Casey Bunn played at Oregon State University where she led the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring during her senior year. She averaged 20.0 points per game.

Bunn also played overseas professionally in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Australia. On the Portuguese All-Star team she earned all-league honors.

Assistant coach Erin Yankus played four seasons at Portland State University. She helped the Vikings win their first Big Sky Conference Championship. They also had their first appearance in the NCAA Division I tournament in school history during Yankus’ senior year.

Assistant coach Taylor Mills played collegiate basketball at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Mills, an excellent student as well, earned herself a spot on the American East Honor Roll.

Everage said there is a coach specifically for each position.

“Each coach is implementing so many great techniques and positive advice for us. We have already improved in the past two weeks, and I know it is going to continue to go in a positive direction from here,” Hood said.

Graham said the coaches increased their expectations of everyone.

“They push us, but they care about us as people,” she said.

Last year, the team finished with a 6-10 record in league and a 13-12 record overall.

In order to advance to playoffs, the team has to be ranked within the top four of the conference. Last season, Linfield finished just shy of making it, placing fifth.

“We plan to have fewer turnovers each game and play solid defense by playing as a unit,” Hood said.

Everage said they “want to be a more defensive team [with] more steals and forcing more turnovers” during games.

She said she lives by the motto offense makes money but defense wins championships.

“I feel like we’re going to be a brand new team. Everyone is willing to come in and bust their but. The harder we work the better we will be,” Everage said.

The women are excited to prove themselves as a better team than last year.

“We would love some home game support from our student body,” Hood said. As much as women’s basketball is working to positively represent Linfield athletics this season, we need people in the stands supporting us. It makes a difference.”

The Wildcats start the season with a home game against Multnomah at 6 p.m. on November 13, 2015.