Forwards Adrian Budischak and Lauren Freid and guards Lindsay Hallion and Jessica Knox comprise this year’s rookie class for the Ivy title-contending program.
Because the players haven’t yet suited up for the Crimson, their importance to the team remains unclear.
“It’s still early in the season, so you can’t really determine their role,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith says.
The Harvard squad retains two seniors and five juniors this year. Combine that depth with the immense change in the quality of competition between high school and college, and the Crimson’s freshmen may not see much time on the court.
“I always think of [freshman year] Division I college athletics as a learning year,” Delaney-Smith says. “Even for the most talented of talents, there’s a learning curve when you get to college.”
The freshman challenge is two-fold—adjusting to the frenetic play of the college game and to the new intimidation that is Expos 20.
“I think all four of them have just been outstanding in their transition to Harvard,” Delaney-Smith says. “They’re jumping right in.”Knox, an honorable mention All-State selection in Oregon last year, agrees. “I’m discovering what’s expected and trying to do what’s asked of me,” she says. Harvard’s first years don’t expect to bide their time on the bench, but to push their elder teammates by improving in practice.
“Typically, I don’t think the program looks to their freshmen to make a huge impact,” Knox says. “Our job is more to support the team, make the team better, work hard, progress, and get better.”Without the guarantee of much playing time, the players’ responsibility this year is to train—hard.
“All four have tremendous work ethics,” Delaney-Smith says.
“It’s a lot mentally, just not letting yourself ever take a break at practice,” Budischak says. “You have to try to get better, to think about it as for a game and not just as a practice.”
The four are accustomed to playing competitively, but the game of basketball requires not only speed and skill but also cohesive team play.
“It’s my first year and I’m just trying to get in sync with the rest of the girls,” Freid says. “There’s a much higher level of play.”
Just as they force their teammates to attain their respective potentials, they will lead each other to new heights. “During practice, just from the competition [with each other], we push each other harder,” Budischak adds.
As freshmen who may or may not see substantial game time, their ambitions are naturally divided into dreams for the team as a whole and goals for their own progress.
Team-wise, the ambition will be to win consistently and finish at the top of the Ivy League.