By Alexander Lingle
This article was originally published in Issue 6, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (November 19, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.
The women’s basketball team kicked off their season Saturday, Nov. 14 by hosting the Morgan Stanley Tip-Off Tournament. Picked number two in the MAC Freedom Conference preseason poll, the team has high hopes for this year.
“The girls are very excited about this season. We’ve been practicing well, and we did fairly well in our last scrimmage. So we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Head Coach Fred Richter said. “We have two great leaders in Kelly Anthony and Jen Napolitano. They are the only two seniors on the team. They’ve done a wonderful job of molding this group into a unified group.”
This is Richter’s 26th year coaching at DeSales. He’s led the women’s basketball team to 18 straight postseason appearances. The team is aiming to improve on last season’s stellar performance, when the girls went 8-6 in the Freedom Conference, earned the third seed in the playoffs and fell to Eastern University in the semifinals.
“Our center is our top returning player, [junior] Morgan McCollian, who started every game last year and was second team all-conference,” Richter said. “We have another junior… Nicole Umbenhauer, and she backs Morgan up very well. Morgan couldn’t play last scrimmage, and Nicole had a great scrimmage. Kelly and Jen share the same position, the forward position, so one or the other will be a starter at that position.”
“We’re young, we’re quick, we’re aggressive, we’re deeper than just those four,” he added.
Of the 16 players on the roster, Richter said he will play nine to 11 of them per game. Some players will sit one game and play the next based on scouting reports and injuries.
Napolitano also spoke highly of this year’s team.
“We have a lot of quick guards that will allow us to relentlessly press and fast break,” Napolitano said. “Although we have suffered some injuries already during preseason, we have multiple players that can help us at every single position. We have no weak links, so this year we can mindlessly trust each other and be confident that everyone will carry their weight on the court.”
“Not only have the coaches set high expectations for this season, but as a team we have also set high expectations for ourselves,” she added.
Napolitano has gotten to know the coaching staff in her four years playing for the team, especially Richter.
“He’s a good coach and an even better person; he is always willing to help his players in any way he can even when it isn’t basketball-related. He built such a great program, and it is a privilege to be part of it,” she said.
“This team is more passionate about the game than any of my previous years here and I’m really excited to see how we play together once game time rolls around,” she continued. “This is a year for redemption and there is a lot to accomplish. We were picked second in the [Freedom], but we plan on finishing first. We know what we’re capable of; it’s just a matter of getting there, and we seem to be on the right track.”
The team is currently 2-1 and will play local rival Moravian College on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.