Catching opponents off guard

Women’s basketball team shows off improved scoring and defensive abilities in 2-1 start to season.

First-year forward Aly Sartain (25) attempts one of her three shots in Hamline’s 63-70 home defeat to UW-Stout.

Taylor Geer

First-year forward Aly Sartain (25) attempts one of her three shots in Hamline’s 63-70 home defeat to UW-Stout.

Rebecca Higgins, Reporter

With the beginning of a new season, Hamline’s women’s basketball team look to make headway in the MIAC. Last year, Hamline placed last in the MIAC and struggled to compete because only six athletes of the 10 listed on the roster were able to play. This year, with 14 athletes listed on the roster, every rostered player has been able to compete in this season’s non-conference games.

Nine of the 14 athletes are new recruits, which may pose problems for the team. Often younger teams struggle to compete with older teams. In addition, teams made up of new team members face difficulty forming chemistry. However that is not the case with the women’s basketball team.

“The team has a sense of family to it,” senior point guard Chloe Graves said. “That is different and so effective that we are going to get results that women’s basketball has never seen.”

Hamline has taken advantage of their non-conference schedule to start the season 2-1. The Pipers started their season off with two consecutive wins for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Their wins came on back to back days against North Central (MN) and Northwestern (MN); the Pipers beat North Central 77-60 and Northwestern 66-56.

In their first home game of the season, the Pipers faced off against UW-Stout. The Pipers got off on the wrong foot in the first quarter, letting the Blue Devils lead 16-2 and the quarter eventually ended with the Blue Devils on a 22-9 run. Throughout the game, Hamline’s women’s basketball team tried desperately to close the gap, but Hamline’s first home game ended in a tough 63-70 defeat.

Their first conference game will be Nov. 30 against Augsburg. The women’s basketball team hopes to throw off other teams’ rhythm in the conference games.

“We continually preach team defense and rebounding, and most teams have a similar strategy. But we will be able to mix things up like playing man or zone,” Head Coach Kerri Stockwell said. “It will keep them out of rhythm.”

By switching up playing man on man and zone defense gives the defensive side the upper hand. Otherwise, offensive players grow accustomed to various guards’ strategies or where guards will move within their zone. The Pipers are attempting to play an in-your-face kind of defense while attempting to keep opponents off the free-throw line. The women’s team also plans to apply unpredictability to their offense.

“Offensively, we run a motion offense,” Stockwell said. “It’s not patterned. Our goal is to attack and make sure that we aren’t running the same [play] every time. When we do that we are a lot harder to guard.”

The motion offense is an offensive strategy that uses player movement to take advantage of quickness. This makes movements harder to track by defensive players, which is just one of the ways the Pipers are attempting unpredictability.

Offensive players become harder to guard when mixing up plays because if a play centralizes setting a pick, the defense will not know which way to go. The Pipers’ offense also emphasizes not being selfish.

“We are unselfish. We pride ourselves that we will pass up good shots for great shots,” Graves said. “That’s going to get us the end results we want.”

This ensures that every shot is calculated and defensive players don’t have a chance to block the shot. Similarly, the team strives towards a mentality centralized around winning.

“I just do whatever it takes to win,” Graves said. “Even if I don’t score any points that night and I get multiple assists because I am getting other people open. Or if someone else is off and I need to pick up and score more points. I came up with the mentality that I will be whatever the team needs me to be that given day.”

After winning just one conference game last season, the Pipers look to be more competitive in Stockwell’s seventh season. The Pipers open their conference season tonight in an away game against Augsburg at 7:00 p.m. Their home conference schedule starts this Saturday, Dec. 3, when the Pipers welcome Bethel to Hutton Arena. Tip-off is at 1:00 p.m.