Marsha Frese, the new women’s basketball coach, took over a program with lofty expectations despite an almost entirely new squad.
The team currently sits 4-5 and the roster of 12 includes eight players who, prior to this season, had one Division I start between them.
Along with those newcomers are three returning starters, Ashli Hill and captains Eilise O’Connor and Kim Nezianya.
“It’s great,” said Frese, a long-time assistant. “It’s everything I expected, and then some. It’s just nice after many years of what I thought was paying my dues, just to have this opportunity to implement a lot of my own philosophy and things I have been working on over the years.”
Last year’s team went 22-12 and averaged 72 points a game while holding opponents to 66 points a game.
That is part of the reason this year’s team was predicted to finish 2nd in the Summit League Pre-Season Poll.
However, this is a transition year, and scoring has dropped to 58.4 points a game, with defense giving up 68.1 points on average.
The offense has been stagnant during the first half of games, in which the Roos have been outscored by 60 points so far this season.
“We’ve got to start games better, obviously,” Frese said. “I think a lot of that has to do with [the lack of] game experience. We’ve got kids who haven’t been in those game situations. We just returned from a Thanksgiving trip, which was the first road trip for half our team. And it was the first start for two, three or four of our kids.”
O’Connor, starting point guard, chimed in.
“With a lot of young players, they’re not really sure how to come out for games,” O’Connor said. “At the D-I level, teams are going to come out and whoever punches it first is going to get a lead.”
The team is working to solidify its rotation.
“We don’t really play well as a team yet,” said Nezianya, starting forward and leading scorer. “We haven’t gelled yet, and I think playing games and practice should help us.”
The Roos are a month away from opening Summit League play, and the team knows it has a lot of work to do.
“Our goal is to get better every single day and every single week,” Frese said. “If we continue to be consistent and accomplish those goals, the postseason and the Summit League tournament will take care of themselves.”