Lynn Hersey and the Smith College Pioneers find themselves currently in second place in the NEWMAC! (Photo Credit: Smith College Athletics)
In case you didn’t know, Smith College’s women’s basketball team is two victories away from matching it’s 19 win total, which dates back to 1995-96 season.
The Pioneers currently find themselves in second place in the NEWMAC and are on track to return to the conference championship for the second year in a row.
“We’re definitely fortunate to be in the place that we are [currently]. We feel grateful, [but] we also feel very much that our work ethic has put us there, and we’re hoping to be a contender here in the NEWMAC down the road,” said head coach Lynn Hersey.
Smith College returns to the court on Saturday, February 11, when they travel to Babson Park to face Babson College, who beat the Pioneers earlier this season in Northampton.
Here is our conversation with the head coach on the season, enjoy.
On the season thus far: “We feel very happy with how our team has progressed over this year’s time and last year. Each year we’re continuing to grow, and build a very strong nucleus of players and [create] a different culture in our program, and I think those are the many of the factors that it takes to compete with some of the better teams in New England, and continue to push your program to be the best it can be, so it’s pretty simple how we’ve positioned things. We work very hard every day, and then we spend a lot of time working on our team chemistry and our team dynamic, which has been a good recipe for us.”
On experiencing a few losses in December: “Certainly any loss does provide a good perspective of what areas are working well for you and what areas that you need to improve upon. [Against] Springfield College, we didn’t do a great job with handling the pick and rolls consistently from a defensive standpoint, and a few of our defensive rotations were not as done as they normally are, so from that game we did focus a lot on our half court defensive pressure and rotations. As for some of the other games, [our team lost], we didn’t execute as well, and I think the consistency of that is still part of our youthfulness. We only have one senior on the squad, so I do think at moments the experience and just the consistency of execution during those losses were areas that we noticed that we fell a little short at, but we’ve continued to try and put ourselves in those games sittuations in practice and really have just a better understanding of what we’re looking for from coaches and what particular players roles are in certain situations. And I think down the stretch, we’re on an upswing at the right time, so I think everything has worked at has it’s supposed to and you learn from those things and improve upon them and you keep playing each game as prepared as you can be.”
On what one can learn from playing against Babson College: “Babson’s so tough. They have the best threesome in probably Division III, and they’re extremely seasoned players, they play so well together, and they know how to win, they know how to finish games. They make big shots, big plays, and they’re very good at going on runs, especially in the second half by pushing through and making what was a five-point game into a 27-point game in a matter of three or four minutes.
On playing against veteran squads: “We’re very realistic about their talents and abilities, but each time we’re going to go out with a game plan and our kids will buy into it, and we will do our best to work hard at that and see if we might be able to expose something different that another team hasn’t been able to do yet. I think our kids get excited to play Babson. I think they really see it as an opportunity as opposed to something that they’re intimidated, but they’re also well aware of what it would take to have chance to be competitive with them down the stretch, so it’s been a learning curve playing Babson in particular as well, but we’re hoping to see them again in the tournament, and we’re fortunate enough to do that, and hopefully we’ve got enough information from [the regular season matchups] to see what we can do.”
On three keys for Smith to defeat Babson College on Saturday, February 11: “I think [we need to] rebound, which is number one. We’ve got to be able to contain them to a limited amount of offensive boards and second chance points, so that’s number one. Two is tempo. We need to play at a certain tempo or our style and that really helps to generate the energy that we need to compete with them, and then the third thing is we have to be offensive minded. I think we’re going to be really looking to attack their ability to send their hoop, and try to challenge them in that way.”
On eventually earning a NEWMAC title: “That’s the goal. I think the players who have come to play at Smith are well aware of the fact that it’s the ultimate goal for all of us. It is about our daily work ethic. It is about treating practices as the most important part of our season, and preparing ourselves both mentally and physically to compete at that level. It would mean a great deal [because] I think it would be a special memory for all of our players. It would cap off the four-year experience of college and I think it is about creating a culture and if our program can kind of create that culture and it can rub off on other programs at Smith, then that’s certainly icing on the cake.”