After the Sauk Valley game was canceled, Coach Karen Boyd took the time to give an interview to the Chieftain and talk about the Lady Braves so far this season.
“One of them [the injured players] has an indefinite return, so we are not actually going to anticipate her coming back at all this season. Out of the other two, one is anticipating her release on Friday. And the third one is another week from Friday; she has a little over two weeks.” The injury that has sidelined one of our women for the rest of the season is a back injury.
Coach Boyd states there are currently no plans to recruit additional players for the roster, as attempts were made at the end of the Fall, 2013 semester; producing one player now on injured reserve. “So at this point… the roster is what it is. So we’re going to count on the six that we have and keep practicing,” Coach Boyd said.
On improving the record this season, Coach Boyd explained that they are “…strengthening these women’s strengths. When we only have that small number of women we really have to play to our strengths. So that’s really what I focus on in practices… so that those are the things we can rely pretty heavily on in the game.
“…We condition, but there’s a lot of individual work we put in. So we just need to keep strengthening those things to get to the end of the season.
“We’ve done a lot of [shaking up the lines] already. And you know at games, it’s always comforting for me because the women are willing to do that, like they see the gap and they’re willing to say ‘Yep, I’ll bring the ball down.’
“So we absolutely are playing people out of their comfort zones and (in) positions that they’re not used to playing. And they do, they get it done.
“So we do that… in practice… shaking positions up so that people can understand, making sure they’re in the right place for the position that they don’t take normally.”
Coach Boyd explained it’s a combination of having a smaller roster and more injuries than past seasons has led to the number of canceled games: “I was assistant coach for two years and this is my second year as head coach, and I really can’t remember a time when we had this many women injured at one time. And then cold and flu season has hit really hard this year, too… So I’d tell you it’s both: not enough women as well as a high number of injuries.”
The normal complement on a squad is 14, since the “retention rate is usually really good for a women program… but for some reason this is absolutely an abnormality that we can start with 14 women and be down to this.
“We had a couple women who [said] conditioning was too hard, so they physically didn’t want to put in the work. We had a woman who just decided she had different priorities, that she wanted to focus more on school; she actually wanted to get another job.
“So a lot of things contributed to where we are today, women definitely having different priorities and basketball not being the number one part of it. For those women who are here, then they have made basketball a priority and they made academics their priority because they need to get the GPA and grades they need.
“And again, the heart that they’re just bringing for us right now is huge because they’re enduring all of this; they’re still practicing with just four players right now. And as a coach, that’s always encouraging, because the women haven’t given up, then they encourage the coaches to not give up. We always appreciate that.”
While unfortunate for the basketball team, it is easy to sympathize with the women who dropped to focus on school. The next Lady Braves game will be against the East Campus Warriors in Bldg. 3 Upper gym on Tues., Feb. 11.