Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s basketball eager, excited for season tip-off

(Collegian File Photo)

As the days tick down to tip-off, there’s a resounding theme echoing through the Massachusetts women’s basketball team – it’s all about progress.

“I think our goal is to win more games than we did last season,” says captain Leah McDerment. “To up our win percentage and be together and be successful and be happy. I think that’s the main thing, last season wasn’t the most enjoyable so I think for me personally the goal is to have fun and become a better person.”

The Minutewomen open up the 2016-2017 season in Buffalo on Friday, and the ladies in maroon are eager to hit the floor, looking to improve on last season’s disappointing 12-18 record.

“I’m just excited to play in general,” McDerment said, “we’ve been practicing for a long time. We were here working out the whole summer, so it’s good to finally be in games and play against other people and see what everyone else is like and see how our hard work is paying off.”

Fresh faces are abundant for this UMass team from one end of the bench to the other, as Tory Verdi prepares for his first year at the helm following head coach Sharon Dawley’s departure in March. The Minutewomen have four freshmen on this year’s roster, and the young guns will have to hit the ground running to help this team succeed.

“I think everyone’s very excited,” McDerment says, “we’re a young team so we have a lot of kids who are really excited to play their first collegiate game which is really cool. It’s nice to be one of the captains and to look around and have these girls that I can talk to and tell them, this is how it goes, this is how we do it, and we’ve got this. I think everyone’s just really excited to get going and get started.”

This season comes on the heels of some major shakeups for the program, from Dawley’s exit to big-name transfers to other schools to injuries to scholarship players before the season. For these Minutewomen, with just six scholarship players and a handful of walk-ons on opening night, it’s about working with what they’ve got.

“I’m excited to work with the girls that we have now,” says junior Maggie Mulligan. “The ones that stuck around, the ones that have pushed through and kept working really hard. I am nervous about the season, but I’m also really excited.”

For this UMass team to achieve the progress it is striving for, and for personal goals and team expectations to be met, everyone will need to chip in, from the starting five to the end of the bench.

“For me personally, I know I have to score, rebound, and step up as a leader,” said Mulligan. “As a team, we just want to make it as far as we can and win as many games as we can, and stay together as a team.

“Everyone’s really excited, everyone’s ready to go, ready to work hard and see where it takes us.”

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected].

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