The Swarthmore women’s basketball team couldn’t ask for a better start to their season – with wins against Chatham and Cabrini in the Swarthmore Tip-Off Tournament, and a 70-63 victory against Dickinson in their conference opener last Tuesday, their undefeated record is nothing less than thoroughly impressive.
One thing fueling their success is their lock-down defense, possible because of the high level of athleticism amongst the team. “For the first year in a long time, we have ten, eleven, twelve athletes on the team…they all can play a bunch of different positions,” explained head coach Renee DeVarney.
Now using a full court press for the majority of the game, the Garnet have been able to force turnovers and convert steals into easy points. “It’s not something you can do unless you have a bunch of athletes. We have all athletes,” said DeVarney. While physically demanding, it catches other teams off guard, and delivers results. “The faster pace we want to play at is very different from past teams,” said guard Katie Lytle ’14.
Team chemistry is another thing contributing to their victories. “Each and every player brings a unique style of play and a unique personality to the team, and it is really astounding how we really mesh well,” said guard Madeline Ross ’13. “Our three freshmen bring with them lots of hustle and positive energy, our sophomores bring great intensity and enthusiasm, our juniors bring with them calmness and a sense of entitlement, and our seniors bring with them lots of experience, leadership, and tenacious play,” she continued.
The freshmen in particular have impressed both players and coach alike in their Swarthmore debuts. “When our games against Cabrini and Dickinson became close, they handled the pressure well and made some keys plays,” said Lytle. DeVarney had similar praise, adding, “They have been a great addition to the team.”
As the season starts to unfold, the team is looking forward to continuing their undefeated streak – and perhaps surprising a few of their opponents along the way. “We are ready to join the ranks of powerhouse teams,” said Ross. “We have so many scoring threats on the team, and everyone has such an enthusiastic and driven outlook.”
With a majority of the winter season still remaining, there is still much that the team hopes to work on. Rebounding the ball is one focal point for many players; “I think I can do a better job of crashing the boards and help limit the other team’s second chance opportunities,” said Lytle.
For DeVarney, improving their outside and three-point shooting is a top priority. “We haven’t been shooting well our last two games…once we start shooting better, and we have good defense, it will be really exciting,” she said.
Confidence is running high, and expectations have been set even higher. But despite the amount of pressure facing them, the Garnet aren’t fazed. “I am really just excited about the fresh new ‘walk with swagger’ mindset of the team,” said Ross. She, along with her teammates, have only one goal: “We are looking to prove that this is a new era of Swarthmore women’s basketball.”
The women’s team will be looking to extend their conference record to 2-0 this Thursday, as they take on Muhlenberg on their court at 6 pm in hopes of snapping a seven-year losing streak against the Mules.