One year ago, women's basketball at Harvard University was a joke. Neither the players nor the coach took the team seriously, and as a result, they waltzed their way through a dismal season.
Since last March, that carefree attitude has been replaced by a serious attitude of dedication. This year's team, with the introduction of a talented freshman corps and the guidance of a new coach, roared to an 18-3 record and won the Massachusetts Division II title.
In just one year, coach Carole Kleinfelder has not put together a national powerhouse, but she has brought together 12 individuals and helped them develop a cohesive, successful squad.
"The only way we could have been as successful as we were this year," Kleinfelder said yesterday, "was to work together because the team has no superstars that can be relied on to do everything all the time."
Because she is at Harvard, an Ivy League institution dedicated foremost to academics, Kleinfelder will probably never have the "do-it-all" superstars that go to teams like Delta State or Immaculata, two of the giants of women's basketball.
Harvard does not engage in the recruiting war and does not offer its athletes the free ride--a full-athletic scholarship. Without these services, the school cannot pull the "athletics-only" superstars to Cambridge.
Glad To Be Here
But Carole Kleinfelder knows all that, and she is still glad to be at Harvard. "Sports should not be the student's life," she said. "Students are not at Harvard for sports alone; they are looking for a complete education, and that is the way I coach them."
Kleinfelder's philosophy and convictions have reflected themselves in this year's team, and to understand the team, one must understand its coach.
"I enjoy coaching a team sport, rather than an individual sport," she said, "because I find the most satisfaction in getting all 12 individuals to contribute in some way to the team effort."
As the coach, Kleinfelder said, she has to develop the "cohesiveness." She said she could develop the team effect only by "exploiting the strengths" of each player. "I have to make each player understand what she is capable of doing," she added.
Her team's performance this season has been the result of that coaching philosophy. Each game, a new player took over the role as team leader. If Caryn Curry was not scoring one night, then Wendy Carle picked up the slack. If Ellen Hart was not making the steals, then Katherine Fulton adjusted and sparked the defense.
In most cases, each player did what she could do best, and in that way provided the most help to the team. But there were imperfections in the team system.
The offense was the major defect. It could not penetrate the middle against many teams, and it was unable to play a controlled game. Too often the team lapsed into perimeter passing and settled for poor outside bombs.
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