After finishing seventh in the Liberty League last season with an overall record of 10-15, the Vassar College women’s basketball team is ready to begin a more successful season. The Brewers will look toward greater success in their 25 games this winter, 11 of which will take place at Vassar College.
This season’s schedule will be highlighted by a team trip to Puerto Rico, where the Brewers will take on two opponents: Messiah College and DePauw University. The team will then begin competing in Liberty League games, which kick off with a game against Skidmore College on Dec. 30.
Along with the support of newly appointed Assistant Coach Claire Mattox, Head Coach Candice Brown will take the reins for the eighth season in a row. After leading her squads to three Liberty League titles and one first place finish in the Liberty League, Brown been named one of the program’s winningest coaches.
Mattox, a new addition to the Brewers, will replace Carolyn Crampton, who served as the assistant coach for two years and will now be taking up a position at Wellesley College. After assisting the women’s basketball team of the University of Saint Mary in Kansas for two seasons, Mattox has the knowledge and experience to help the Brewers.
Without any seniors on the roster this year, the team will look to juniors Kim Romanoff, Samarah Cook and Ariella Rosenthal for leadership and direction. “I feel really good about the juniors leading our team this year,” Brown said. While Romanoff will serve as a leader, Cook and Rosenthal will serve as the team’s captains.
Cook has proven to be a solid player for the Brewers since her introduction to the team as a freshman. Last winter, she played 20 games, starting in 16. Throughout these games, she scored a total of 112 points for the Brewers, averaging 5.6 points per game and earning a spot in the team’s top five scorers. Cook ranked fifth for the Brewers in assists, with 32.
“Leading the team has been such an honor and a lot of fun,” Cook explained. “Everyone is willing to work hard and learn in order to improve their game, so the team has made my job a lot easier. It has been a challenge since almost half of the team is new players, but I’m thrilled that I can teach others and help them to accomplish their goals.”
Rosenthal has also proven to be a huge asset for the Brewers. Last season, as a sophomore captain, Rosenthal took the Liberty League by storm, ranking sixth in the conference for average points per game, third for field goal percentages and 11th for most minutes per game. Posting seven games with 20 or more points, Rosenthal was unsurprisingly chosen for the All-Liberty League First Team.
Though Rosenthal led the team last season, she acknowledges that directing the team this season will be extremely different due to the team’s lack of seniors.
“It’s weird, but special at the same time to lead as a junior. Last year I had two seniors above me, so I didn’t need to be as vocal off the court as I need to be this year,” Rosenthal said. “As the oldest on the team, we have to become the faces of the team. It’s an honor and a privilege, and I’m happy to be able to embrace it.”
Both captains are ecstatic to work off the team’s enthusiasm and determination to claim victories this season. Along with Coach Brown, they are working to capitalize on the team’s strong suits while improving their shortcomings.
“I think our team strengths are the players’ desire to get better, their youth and their ability to push the ball up the court and score,” Brown said.
Using this willpower and work ethic, the players will be able to work together to improve their skills on the court. The team’s weaknesses come from being such a young squad and having a lack of height.
“The transition from high school to college basketball is very different and that’s something we need to think about as a team with many new, young players,” Cook reasoned. “It’s more fast-paced, competitive and has different rules. However, with practice and time, our team will be prepared.”
The team welcomes five new freshmen, all of whom have stepped up tremendously in pushing the team to improve its game every day. “Before the season even began, you could see the fire they had to get better and push our returners,” Rosenthal shared. In addition to providing the squad with further scoring options, the newcomers bring heaps of enthusiasm and strength to the team.
“They are all very positive and eager to learn,” Cook praised. “Each one takes criticism phenomenally and recognizes their opportunities to grow as players, which is something that will prove very important to the success of our team this year.”
Heading into the season, the Brewers will focus on building team chemistry and becoming very fluid and comfortable playing with each other. Their overarching goal is to make it to the Liberty League playoffs and win the championship.
“Unlike previous years, no one on this current team has won a Liberty League championship, so we are hungry and extremely hard-working toward this goal,” Cook explained. “Our team dynamic includes exceeding what’s expected of us on a consistent basis.”
Ready for success, the team will host its opening game of the season at home against New Paltz this Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.