Catching Up With Head Coach Walter Paschal (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)
The Fitchburg State University women’s basketball team earned their best start in school history on Tuesday, as the Falcons defeated the Mustangs of Mount Ida to win their 10th consecutive game of the season.
The Falcons currently sit atop the MASCAC, (Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference) with a 10-0 record, and will look to keep their winning ways going when they return to the hardwood after winter break on Tuesday, Jan. 3, when they travel to Anna Maria College.
Noontime Sports caught up with head coach Walter Paschal on Wednesday to talk about the season thus far. Here’s our conversation, enjoy.
On starting the season 10-0: “It’s the best start we’ve ever had. We’ve been [9-1] before, but never [10-0]. So that’s never a landmark trying to get to 10 wins right away. [I] never really thought about it until I told the kids about it after Saturday’s win [against Western New England College], and it’s something where you put this feather in your cap, and we’ve had some success in the past with a few teams [we’ve played], and I think it’s a pretty good benchmark to get to [10-0] for the first time in school history.”
On facing non-conference foes: “We always played U-Mass Boston, Nichols, [Western New England College], and teams like that for the last eight-nine years, and each year, some teams drop us [due to] schedule changes, so there’s a couple new ones here and there. [For instance, Tuesday was the first time we played] Mount Ida. We’re young, and we have 14 kids on the team and we play 10 [of them], and seven of them have no college basketball experience, so it’s really helped us to get acclimated to the college game, [and] they learn how to win. Our first game was at home and then we played six on the road. Winning all six of them was a great test. No matter what team you are, but for a team that we play, six-seven kids [that have] never played college basketball before, [so] I thought it was an eye opener to me. [We] then came home, and took care of business at home with three home games, and now we just have to get better. League play starts as soon as we get back [from winter break], and that’s going to be a real test.”
On keeping the momentum from the first half of the season: “I don’t know about momentum, [but] we just have to get better… We were picked last [in our conference, but] now, they’re [10-0], so they got the leagues attention, [and] we just have to get better because we’re not going to hit anybody by surprise like we did I think first semester, so it’s not so much momentum, we just have to get better in all areas of the game.”
On winning close games against teams like U-Mass Boston, Emerson College, Lasell and Mount Ida: “We’ve won close ones, we won a couple blowouts, we’ve won coming from behind, [such as] 10 points against Emerson, [and] we’ve won [games on the road]. The kids are just resilient. It doesn’t really matter what the score is at the time, they just have figured out a way to get back into the ballgame. Lasell, [who’s] better than their record [indicates], we were down four with [roughly three minutes] to go, [but] we got a three-point play, missed a free throw, got the basket and all of a sudden in one possession we tied it up, and I think that was huge and the kids are just finding a way to seek out wins, and I think what it does is it builds trust between them and they know down the line that anyone on the floor can score, and it’s [going to make our team] really hard to defend come January and February.”
On the play of sophomore forward Amy Fahey: “I always felt that she was going to be one of the best players in New England at one time, [but] I didn’t know it would come this early. We had six seniors on the team last year, and she kind of just waited her turn, and she had some breakout games where she had 18 [points] against Worcester State, and she showed glimpses of it, but she kind of just sat back and waited her turn, but we wanted her to do a little bit more last year. This year with only two seniors on the team, her role has changed dramatically and she’s just taken it upon herself. When she gets that ball, she puts it in the basket. She’s helped out with the rebounding, [and] she’s just flourished from one year to the next immensely, but there’s a lot of areas in the game where she can get better, and she knows that and we’ve talked about that extensively, and she needs to work on those things.”
On three goals for the remainder of the season: “One is we just have to get better every day, and if we can do that then we’ll [most likely] make the conference tournament. Six out of the seven teams make it in our conference, and right now, I wouldn’t be able to pick one team that [won’t] make it because I think it’s going to be a dogfight looking at all the scores, and knowing all the teams and their coaches, [so] I think there’s going to be one team left out, which that’s going to be a shame. And then, third, once we get [into the tournament], our goal is to win it, so that’s our three goals — to get better, make the tournament, and once we’re in, win it. I think they can all be accomplished if we catch some breaks.”