Women's basketball preview
Following a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to Babson College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament last winter, the Colby women’s basketball team begins the new season ranked 23rd in Division III. The Mules will look to improve on last year’s NCAA bid and hope to compete as one of the top teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conferenceâ€ˆ(NESCAC).
After losing Alison Cappelloni ’10 (an All-American honorable mention and top-ten NESCAC scorer and rebounder) to graduation, Colby will rely on a balanced inside-outside game to try to improve upon last year’s results. Returning to the court this year will be captains Jules Kowalski ’11, Karlyn Adler ’11 and Aarika Ritchie ’12, as well as Rachael Mack ’12, Kelly Potvin ’12, Jilâ€ˆVaughan ’12, Diana Manduca ’13, Jacky McLaughlin ’13 and Jayde Bennett ’13.
New to the team this year are first-year Mainers Jen Nale of Waterville and Gabe Donohue of Cape Elizabeth. Nale, the third of her family to play basketball at Colby, was a finalist for Miss Maine Basketball, the highest honor given to female basketball players in the state. Donohue was a McDonald’s All-State player in high school.
Christine Clancy, an assistant coach during the past two seasons, takes over as head coach this year after Colby’s most successful season ever. Assisting Clancy this year will be Tony Staffiere, former head coach of Division II Mercy College.
With a 24-5 record a season ago, the women were bound to gain a preseason ranking. But Clancy wants to emphasize, especially to her players, that the preseason rankings are meaningless. “We need to come ready to play every game this season. We are playing a tougher schedule and now we have a big target on our backs,” she remarked.
Both players and coach acknowledge that they have lofty goals for this season. Said Mack, “Our expectations are definitely high—all of the returning players worked really hard over the summer and came back better basketball players.” Manduca later spoke about the team’s goals this season, which include “[being the] NESCAC champs and get[ting] another NCAA tournament bid—Sweet 16 or better.”
The Mules will begin their season November 20 versus New Paltz at the Amherst Tournament. Until then, the team will keep “trying to take the season one day at a time, working to get better every day,” said Clancy.
Several players have identified Bowdoin, Bates, Tufts and Amherst—who defeated Colby in the NESCAC Championship game and won the third-place game of the NCAA Tournament—as the key games of the season.
The Mules will have to work to improve on last year’s performance. Among the teams ranked in the top-25 nationally are NESCAC opponents Amherst (ranked first), Williamsâ€ˆ(14th) and Bowdoinâ€ˆ(18th).
Colby women’s basketball will continue to work out the kinks before opening the season the weekend after next. The Mules’ first home game is during Thanksgiving break versus the University of Maine—Farmington on November 23. Anybody staying on campus should come support the team.