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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Women’s Basketball Preview: Polk and Posse Ready for Action

Mass Media: You had a very talented team last year, although depth was a bit of a problem. Four talented seniors are no longer here. What kind of team can fans expect to see out on the court and how will they shape their own identity?

Coach Shawn Polk: Right now we’re young. But we’re young and talented, which gives me hope. When I came in the 1998 and 1999 seasons, it was rough. We were young then, but not as talented. And I didn’t have as many [players]. We have 15 players on the roster, and I actually had to cut three. It’s not a great thing to cut players, but it’s nice to have the numbers coming out for the team, and on top of the recruits we had coming in. There’s a lot of versatility and talent. So I am hopeful.

We lost Andreen [Gilpin], Jamila [Gales], Felicia [Haynes], and Kristen [Bowes]. Any team that loses a group like that you’re bound to make some serious adjustments. I think a team like that only comes along once in a lifetime, and I only wish that I had some of what I have now to back the kind of team that I had last year. I think we could have definitely contended.

This year’s group is so different, because you don’t really have to rely on just five players. You can rely on at least 10 out of the 15, which is going to be a plus for us. We can actually go to sets of five, and really feel comfortable about each group, that they’re going to know their roles. They can all play with the same kind of intensity, and give us the same thing. They all have their individual talents. It’s fun to coach a wide array of talent.

MM: The Little East Conference always has good basketball programs that showcase a plethora of talent. Where does your team fit in for the upcoming season, and how do you see the rest of the league shaping up?

Polk: I expect to be competitive. I always do. Plymouth State lost four players; their core came in at the same time as Andreen, Felicia and those guys. They’ve always been at the top. We were getting to the top, being in the middle of the pack. Keene State, they’re looking to rebuild, and Western Connecticut, they’re looking strong. You never know what to expect in this [Little East] conference, other than Southern Maine and Eastern Connecticut being at the top.

So as far as the standings go, I expect to be in the top six. I also expect to get everything out of my players that I possibly can, win or lose, but be able to walk away as we progress through the season, knowing that each game was an improvement and transition into the next year, looking ahead to some serious battles.

MM: Will the new personnel out there on the floor, will you have to adapt your coaching style and/or philosophy so you can take advantage of your players’ talents?

Polk: We’ll take it game by game, as I always have. I’ve always coached a pressing team. I think defense changes the face of the game, and I think it makes the game more exciting, rather than sitting back in zones. There are times for zones, and sometimes it has to be man-to-man defense. I think the excitement of defense is just critical for the game.

My team knows what my expectations are on that end. They know that I am a defensive-minded coach. I don’t put offense second by any means. I strongly believe, however, that if you work on the defensive end, offense is not necessarily easier, but things might come [on the offensive side] more quickly. We’re going to run when we can. Some sets might not be able to run as much as other sets; we’ll just have to make that adjustment. And on defense, we’re going to press, even if we eventually set up in a zone.

MM: Who do expect to assume the role of leadership now that your four starting seniors are gone?

Polk: I think picking captains is not just about who’s a senior. It’s about who has displayed the most leadership throughout the preseason, being at practice every day, showing up on time, motivating the team. I let the team vote for captains, and then I decide whether or not to override it. But I look to the team to say who are the players that are really motivating the rest.

I would hope that my returning players would be the ones that I look toward for leadership, but sometimes that’s not always the case. I have a transfer, Danielle Jones, who has played a critical role in that regard.

MM: You annually play in an opening season tournament called the Tip-off Classic held here on campus. But you’re not doing so this year. Is the end of the tournament?

Polk: “All four teams were confirmed [for the Classic], but two of the teams pulled out over the summer. We put out a notice to secure more teams, but we were unable to get any. So we’re not having the Tip-off Classic this year, but hopefully we can get it back for next year. We hope that this doesn’t ever happen again.

If you look at women’s Division III basketball, it seems that every school is having their own opening season tournament, especially locally, and it’s hard to get other teams to come to your tournament. It is something that we are going to have to evaluate, because we don’t want to be in this situation again.

It was a good tournament, and the teams that we have brought to campus in the past have said the same. We do have two teams confirmed for next season; we just need one more.”