Assured of playoffs, Lions look to build confidence

by Beacon Staff • February 14, 2007

"Usually, we either have a game or practice," Coach Melissa Hart said about having her players on the court from 6-8 p.m. on the Hallmark holiday.,Valentine's Day means many things for different people. But for the women's basketball team, it was just another day of business.

"Usually, we either have a game or practice," Coach Melissa Hart said about having her players on the court from 6-8 p.m. on the Hallmark holiday. "That's the way it goes with basketball. You're either practicing or playing."

At exactly 6 p.m., the team was ready to go and focused during an intense practice in which the team had competitions against one another.

"I think if it's a competitive thing that it's good to sort of train winning instead of just making a shot. There was a point in the beginning of the season we were playing well but not making shots," Hart said about running practices with a more competitive edge this season. "Might as well get pressure on in practice and then they'll be ready for the game."

The change has brought about positive results for the Lions, as they are currently sporting a 14-9 overall record. The Lions were able to squeak out a 50-48 win on Feb.12's game against St. Joseph College. According to Hart, "We stole that game. We were down that whole game until we took the two-point lead."

The Wednesday night practice focused mainly around shooting drills.

"We have a lot of players who can shoot, but they don't necessarily realize that," Hart said about the Lions' offensive. "Shooting is a confidence thing."

The other part of practice revolved around a five-on-five scrimmage. The 13 players on the roster were split onto two teams, with six players representing the purple team and seven on the white team.

And with practices shaped around doing well under pressure, Hart has devised a strategy to determine her starting lineup.

"The team that wins scrimmages gets to start. It's the first year we're doing it. ... Lately, the white team hasn't won in a while," Hart said giving credit to the purple team for pulling out victories in practice. "I think it's more the people who are generally starting have picked it up."

The other aspect Hart was focusing on during practice had less to do with the physical aspect and more to do with her players' mindsets as they get ready to play either Suffolk University or Western New England College in the playoffs.

Hart said about her team, "If there's one thing I could magically endow our team with, it would be the swagger other teams have."

The Lions are currently the fifth seed and will have to be outside the Lions Den for their first playoff game.

"We're one of the only teams in the country who shoot better away," Hart said. "Maybe it's a blessing we're away because [the team] believes they can shoot better in other gyms."