Success is nothing new to women’s basketball. In the 2012-2013 season, the team went undefeated and won the NCAA Division III National Championship. Last season, the Tigers went a modest 30-2. But these past accomplishments, along with the fact that the program has not had a losing season since 1993, mean almost nothing to the Tigers, as they are prepared to work even harder than last year.
“The dynamic of the team changes with the new players, and our strengths and weaknesses vary as a team every year,” senior guard Emma Ondik said. “We really try to… remember that we won’t automatically be successful just because the previous year had success.”
The Tigers lost five seniors to graduation in guards Ann Sarkisian and Ali Ross, and forwards Erin McGinnis, Alex Gasaway and Alison Stephens. However, this year’s incoming freshmen are more than ready to prove themselves capable of making an impact on the team.
“You can tell the program has been successful in the past and expects nothing less this year,” first-year guard/forward Hannah Gardner said. “The intensity of every practice demonstrates a team who wants to win, and it all feeds from Coach Huffman.”
DePauw head coach Kris Huffman is entering her 22nd season as head coach of the Tigers. Last year, she was voted Region 6 Coach of the Year, and was a finalist for the Pat Summit Trophy. Huffman has helped immensely with the transition from last season to this year’s fall workouts in regards to the team having a new look.
“Coach reminds us everyday that we don’t have to have the best players, just the best team, and I think we have that when we all do our parts,” first-year forward Kylie Morris said. “In past years, the team has lead the nation in offensive boards and the least amount of turnovers in the game, and Coach wants to keep that a priority, since it’s who we are.”
So far this preseason, the team has been working on defense, communication and playing together as a team. The Tigers plan to prepare day by day and one game at a time.
Along with the talent and potential brought in by the first-years, DePauw is returning their leading scorer in senior guard Savannah Trees, along with Ondik and senior guard Hannah Douglas, who both were given NCAC honorable mentions last season.
Most recently, the Tigers were picked to win the NCAC conference championship for the fourth year in a row by the NCAC preseason poll. The team is doing all they can now to make sure to live up to these expectations.
“We have been working extremely hard all the way from preseason until now, and I am very excited to see how our hard work pays off,” Trees said. “We have a very tough opening schedule… so we are really focusing on being well prepared for these teams so we can start the year off on the best note possible.”
This schedule includes Franklin College, who has already begun their season with a 2-0 record and will be the Tigers’ game played at Neal Fieldhouse.
The Tigers will begin their season with the Paul F. Knueppel Classic at Wisconsin Lutheran on Nov. 21.
“There is always some pressure felt from the success of previous seasons,” Ondik said. “We have a lot to work on, but we are definitely headed in the right direction.”