W. Basketballers Out to Continue Winning Ways
It may be the beginning of a new year and the start of the Ivy League season in women's basketball, but the only resolution being made by Coach Delaney-Smith and her cagers is to continue their winning ways.
Harvard's 8-3 record heading into this weekend's contests against Pennsylvania and Princeton, is its best since 1987-88 when they were 8-2 going into Ivy League play.
That squad finished 21-5 and picked up a share of the Ivy League title.
This year prospects are similarly good: although the Crimson was picked to finish fifth in preseason league polling this year, it has demonstrated its strength with a first-place finish at South Florida Tournament and an impressive December victory over Providence College.
"I think [opposing] teams are a little scared and showing us some respect, but we still have to prove ourselves," says junior Elizabeth Proudfit.
With both Penn and Princeton rated higher than the Crimson in a preseason poll, this weekend should give the team its first opportunity to demonstrate its ability against Ivy League competition.
Senior captain Tammy Butler is confident: "We belong at the top of the league," she said.
Despite the captain's well-deserved confidence, playing back-to-back road games makes for a tough opening-league schedule. Although the Ancient Eight is not known for its parity, no team can take any game for granted with its weekend-long twin-bills.
"We have back-to-back games," Proudfit says. "We're the only league in the country to do that so it puts a strain on both teams and makes the second game a challenge."
To reach an even 10 victories, the team will have to maintain the intensity that has brought it success in the past months.
"I think [with] our level of play and confidence we can win both games," freshman Allison Feaster said.
Offensive and defensive pressure will be keys to Crimson success.
"Player-for-player both speed-wise and shooting-wise, both teams have a lot of close match-ups," Butler said. "It will come down to the fundamentals of executing the offense, rebounding hard and stepping it up on defense."
Early road wins this weekend will make it that much easier for the women's basketball team to realize its considerable promise this season.