Women’s basketball preps for season

by Emily Wechsler | 11/12/14 4:22pm

The women’s basketball team and its second-year coaching staff are set to kick off the season at home Sunday, against the New Jersey Institute of Technology — the Big Green’s first opening game in Hanover since the 2009-10 season.

The Big Green finished at the bottom of the Ivy League last year but tied for sixth in a media preseason poll, five points above last-place pick Brown University.

Head coach Belle Koclanes said she and her staff are excited for “chapter two,” building off last season, when the team went 5-23, 2-12 Ivy.

The Big Green will likely look to Fanni Szabo ’17 and Lakin Roland ’16 to boost its offense this season as the two led the roster in points last year. Szabo, who scored a team-high 13.2 points per game, spent this summer playing for the Hungarian U-20 team.

“She brings more maturity to our team because of that experience, and definitely physicality,” Koclanes said of Szabo.

Koclanes and her staff have also welcomed their first recruiting class, five freshmen who together can cover all the positions on the court.

No captains have been selected for the team, but Koclanes said she wants leadership to come from every player.

“Really we expect everyone in our program to learn leadership skills and to demonstrate leadership,” Koclanes said. “We all have a role to play, in the big picture, and really if we can each embrace what that role is, then leadership is not really about titles.”

Players have been using an online mental training, called Positive Performance, to strengthen their mental game, focusing on the word “competing.”

“When you talk about the differences in the athletes from high school to college to professional to Olympian,” Koclanes said, “it really has to do with your mental training.”

The team also raised its standards for strength and conditioning this summer, hoping to increase its tempo.

“From the practice standpoint, we’re talking X’s and O’s and building our offensive systems, our defensive systems, our skill development systems,” Koclanes said. “We’re building a program, we’re building a team.”

Last season, Dartmouth beat NJIT 48-45 in a tight battle on the road. The win came during the toughest stretch of the season for the Big Green, when the team dropped 10 of 11 games.

Though Dartmouth’s record last season was far from impressive, the team showed marked signs of improvement by the season’s end. In the team’s first 21 games last season, it notched just three wins and all but one of its losses came by double digits. The last seven games showed improvement against Ivy League foes as the Big Green won two games and lost two more by six or less.

The main hole that Dartmouth will look to fill from the last season comes after last year’s starting point guard Nicola Zimmer ’14 graduated. Zimmer finished third on the team in points per game and led the squad in assists last year. With five freshmen and just three returning starters, the Big Green will look to its youth for important contributions. In particular, if Amber Mixon ’18 can step up at the point guard position, Dartmouth has a chance to exceed expectations.

The Big Green starts the season with 14 non-conference games, five at home and nine on the road before Ivy League play starts Jan. 10, when Dartmouth will battle last season’s Ivy League runner-up, Harvard University, on the road.

The game against NJIT tips off at 2 p.m. Sunday.

 

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