Women’s basketball warms up for season

Women%27s+basketball+warms+up+for+season

Eileen Martin/ Guilfordian

The soles of shoes squeak on the hardwood floor. Yelling emanates from the bottom of the stairwell leading down to Ragan-Brown Field House, the way marked by a yellow sign denoting a closed practice.

It is nearly basketball season.

As two-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions, the goal is simple for the Guilford women’s basketball team: three-peat.

When asked if they would defend their conference title, the playful trio of players, junior Brittney Drew and first-years Anais Weatherly and Miranda Martin all chimed in as one, “Yes.”

“We have a good shot,” said women’s head basketball coach Stephanie Flamini, entering her eleventh year coaching the Quakers.

The women’s team is coming off a 24-5 season in which they earned a spot in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Division III Basketball Tournament. Flamini, during the season, earned her 200th victory as coach.

Three seniors are returning — forward Gabby Oglesby, center Morgan King and guard Kayla Adams — as well as junior guard Brittany Drew. Each averaged over 20 minutes a game last season.

Oglesby and King both are coming off All-ODAC performances. Oglesby previously was the 2012 ODAC Player of the Year.

Regarding this season, first-year forward Weatherly said, “We’re on the road to success.”

Do not think, however, that the team’s winning ways and high hopes have clouded their judgment or disrupted their focus.

“It’s going to be hard,” Flamini said. “It’s going to be challenging, but it can be done.”

The Quakers will surely face tough opposition this year from conference rivals Eastern Mennonite University (who bested the Guilford squad twice in the 2012-2013 regular season) and Virginia Wesleyan College (whom the women’s team last met in the ODAC semifinal game).

With the offseason over, the women’s basketball program is running on all cylinders.

Flamini admitted that she and her coaching staff —  consisting of Mercedes Van Wagner, Ray Edmond, and senior Ryan Phillips — sometimes  put in up to 18 hour days.

“A lot (of work) goes into this, more than most people would think,” Flamini said.

That hard work will be needed to maintain their defensive pressure. Guilford held teams to an average of 52.5 points per game, leading the ODAC in scoring defense.

“The way that we prepare for the season and every game will just be as intense,” said Phillips in an email interview.

One wild card to look out for this upcoming season is the addition of a 10-second backcourt violation. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the change June 24 as well as a few other rule changes.

“It’ll speed up the game for sure,” said Adams in an email interview. “We’ve been simulating each practice as if it were a game, and it’s tough, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

The Quakers lost assist leader Brittany Atwater and steals leader Jaclyn Nucci, as well as contributor Shelly Barker. Entering the season, the focus will be on how the team adapts to fills these holes.

Leadership, however, will not be a problem.

“As seniors, it’s our job to lead,” said Oglesby in an email interview. “That is exactly what we intend to do: lead.”

With a mixture of newcomers and veterans on the Quakers’ roster, opposing teams will look to take advantage.

That doesn’t worry Drew, who praised the team’s combination of experienced and reserve players.

When asked to describe the team in one word, Drew responded, “Resilient.”

The women’s team kicks off the season on Nov. 16 hosting York College in the Marriott Invitational.

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