Last year, the No. 22 ranked Trinity women’s basketball team made it to the first round of the NCAA playoffs before losing a close game to the Claremont Mudd-Scripps. This year, the defending SCAC champs are back, ready for another exciting season full of great basketball. As the season nears, the Tigers have identified their strengths: talented new recruits, a versatile and athletic team and a fast, aggressive strategy.
“The incoming group, they bring a different dynamic to the court,” senior swingman Allyson Stanley said. “They are all really good players, great scorers [and] ball handlers. They’ve been hustling on defense. They add a lot of depth to the bench.”
The women’s basketball program consistently recruits four to six players each year to keep the program balanced and never lose too many players at once, according to head coach Cam Hill. This year’s new members, three first-years and one transfer, have been a welcome addition to the fold.
“Every single player we have in this class has already made an impact on this team,” Hill said.
The addition of new players and the loss of outgoing seniors has changed the overall makeup of the team itself.
“We’re built differently than we’ve ever been since I’ve been here,” Hill said, “We’re more athletic and we’re definitely more capable and more versatile.”
In recent years, the brand of basketball that has swept the nation at every level focuses on developing “positionless” players. These players typically rely on athleticism and instinct to bring a modern sense of adaptability to the game.
“Most of our players can switch between positions and play just about anywhere on the court, which gives our team a lot more options offensively and defensively,” Stanley said.
Taking into account the opportunities afforded by such athletic players, Hill promises a faster and more aggressive playing strategy this season.
“We are going to be a run and gun team,” Stanley said. “Try and push the ball more often.”
“If we can keep pressure on the defense by playing faster offensively, that will be to our benefit,” Hill said. “Just playing with a ton of confidence and just playing aggressive basketball.”
The upcoming women’s basketball schedule offers Trinity great opportunities to show off their speed and strength while facing formidable opponents both in and out of conference. Throughout November and December, Trinity will play non-conference games at home and away, traveling to Arkansas, Tennessee and Washington.
“We have a great non-conference schedule this year, and our conference is pretty strong,” said senior Grace Horn.
Conference play will begin in January. As defending SCAC champions, Trinity hopes to maintain their dominance and perhaps go beyond their previous accomplishments.
“After having a great season last year, we are looking forward to doing bigger things this year,” said senior Monica Holguin. “I have no doubt this team will be ready when the time comes.”
While holding high hopes for the upcoming season, the team will stay in the moment, playing each game as it comes and facing challenges as they arise.
“For me, it’s always day to day,” Hill said. “I would never put that kind of pressure on my players saying we need to be a sweet 16 team or a final four team or anything like that “” I just think that we need to be the best team that we can be by March.”
The team, which has been connecting throughout preseason, awaits their return to the court. The Tigers are excited not only to showcase their skills on a conference wide scale, but to also play the game they love with the team that they love.
“I am mostly looking forward to getting back on the court with my teammates,” Holguin said.
“I am also looking forward to getting to spend so much time with my teammates,” Horn said. “We get along well and have a lot of fun.”
The team’s motto, “Together Tigers,” is a mantra that applies off the court as well as on it. For many teams, the reliance practiced between players on court does not necessarily continue beyond the final buzzer. The Tigers are lucky to have a different story to tell. The players exhibit determination and commitment to each other and to the game they play.
“I think that ball is life and I mean that,” Hill said. “If you truly love your team and your sport, you’re gonna put your extra time into it and you’re gonna commit a lot of your free time to being better at your craft.”
The Trinity women’s basketball team loves the game and they love to have fun while playing. After running through a star drill with full commitment to the proper technique of quality passes, a player playfully tosses her penny into the camera and tells a joke to her teammate, all the while not fearing reprimand from her coaches. Grace Horn giddily wears a GoPro on her head. In the midst of the defensive drill, she runs up to assistant coach Joe Shotland who spits out jokes while she moves her feet from left to right, working to block his potential passes. She works hard, but a smile still fills her face.
“A huge part of what we do is to enjoy it. I mean, sports are fun, being part of a team is fun,” Hill said. “The cornerstone of my coaching philosophy is to make it fun.”
These talented young women play serious basketball without taking themselves seriously. Hill and his players have created the type of environment where hard work and dedication are expected, but not without love, passion and fun. A program with that mindset is one that produces not only wins and championships, but also makes well-balanced and exceptional human beings.