Taking a step back this after season joining the more competitive New England Women’s and Men’s Conference, women’s basketball head coach Bill Gould has a singular focus heading into next season: competition.
Gould already has three commits — a point guard and two versatile wings — but five more girls could potentially be on board as well, giving the team up to eight new players.
“Competition is good for everything in life,” Gould said. “I’m absolutely not one of these new generation parents who think every kid should win a trophy.”
Rising senior and visual and media arts major Catherine Cloutier, a starter for the majority of her time at Emerson, reiterated the need for competition on the team, especially with a bigger roster.
“In practice, we’re going to beat each other up to the point where we’re going to be tougher,” she said.
The women’s team finished with an 8-17 overall record and a 4-16 record in the NEWMAC this season. Elissa Chojnicki is the only graduating senior on the roster, meaning 11 of the 12 players can return for the 2014-2015 season. Despite the amount of returning players, Gould expects the incoming freshmen to make an immediate impact.
“The three kids I have commitments from, I’ve seen every one of them, I’ve actively recruited all of them. I think they’re going to come in right away and compete for serious minutes, if not starting spots,” Gould said. “There’s no one I’m looking at that shouldn’t be able to compete. They’re not stiffs, that’s for sure.”
A bigger roster could push returning players to train and work harder to ensure a spot next season, according to rising senior Marissa Nobile.
“The added competition is going to not only make us work harder in practice, but outside of practice as well,” said Nobile, a visual and media arts major. “What you do off the court reflects what you do on the court in front of [Gould], and he’s definitely going to take into consideration how hard people are working.”
Gould has coached at all levels of collegiate basketball. He was an assistant at Boston College (Division 1), Bentley College (Division 2), and Stonehill College (Division 2) before taking over the reins of the Lions program (Division 3 ). He said he thought he knew how to recruit on this level before coming to Emerson, but found out the hard way he was wrong.
“You can’t just say I need three, let me recruit five, if we get two it’s okay,” he said. “If you do that, get two, then one kid decides to graduate early, another kid decides she wants to play quidditch, and two other kids decide they just don’t like basketball anymore, so now you’re minus two.”
Gould said he didn’t change any of his recruiting tactics this year, and his players aren’t surprised so many girls want to come to Emerson and play.
“He likes to tailor [his recruiting] to individuals,” Nobile said. “The whole recruiting process and the way he goes about it is just really personal and he makes you feel like Emerson is the place for you.”
Just two seasons ago, the women’s basketball team had only eight players. Gould asked Emerson non-athletes to help out in practice.
“Anyone who could walk and chew gum was helping out,” he said.
Next year’s team could have nearly twice as many players, and the whole philosophy and mentality of the team is going to change, according to Gould. Especially in practice.
“I’m not opposed to saying ‘hey, you’re not getting it done and this kid is. So step aside,’” Gould said.
The women’s team had some nice wins in its first season in the NEWMAC, but there weren’t enough of them. To win more games next year, everyone is going to have to commit to the system, according to Gould. Cloutier said she’s excited for the battle for playing time and is willing to do whatever Gould asks of her.
“I’ve never been a person who has been concerned more about my playing time more than the team,” she said. “If I’m playing bad and I’m not willing to work, I deserve to be sitting on the bench.”
Recruiting is a large part of college basketball. Bringing in talent can change the course of a team in one year. For example, the Kentucky basketball program (Division 1), led by coach John Calipari, is known for its recruiting success. Despite losing talented players every year, the program remains competitive nationally because of the talent Calipari brings in each year. Kentucky has reached three Final Fours and won a National Championship in the last four seasons, despite losing 10 players to the NBA. Coach Gould hopes this recruiting class can have a similar impact on the women’s program.
“Part of getting better is competition,” he said. Kids need to understand people are vying for spots.”
Deputy sports editor Connor Burton did not edit this story because his girlfriend is on the women’s basketball team.