When it comes to discussing the annals of women’s basketball at Emerson, head coach Bill Gould, now in his eighth year, said he would rather let the past be the past.
For good reason, said Gould. The earliest documented record of the Lions is on the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference website, the Lions’ old conference. Their first two years in the conference were in 1997 and 1998, in which the Lions finished 1-9 and 0-10, respectively. Gould noted that records from previous decades are incomplete, if anything at all.
But recently, Gould exchanged his whistle for a pair of glasses, did some digging, and found something unique to this year’s four seniors on the team—they may be the first class in the program’s 31 or so year history to have come in as a group and leave as a group.
“That’s remarkable, perhaps not in a positive way,” Gould said.
But what Gould said is a positive is the chance to send the seniors off with a postseason berth in the team’s second year in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
“Some kids have a good two or three years, and then lose a lot their last year. That sort of taints the entire experience,” said Gould. “For this team, and for this special senior class, in just our second year in the NEWMAC, it would mean a whole lot to me and the kids to make the playoffs.”
If the season ended today, the Lions, who are currently 11-10 overall and 5-7 in conference, would be the seventh and final seed to qualify for the postseason.
“It would mean pretty much everything to make the playoffs this year,” said Marissa Nobile, one of the seniors who has remained on the Lions since her freshman year. “We’ve come so far from a team with eight players to [a team] with a strong program in a competitive conference. It would be great to go out on a high note.”
The Lions’ five conference wins already add up to one more than they had all of last season, and all three of their remaining games are against NEWMAC opponents.
Two of the games are against Coast Guard Academy and Wheaton College, ranked third and fourth in the NEWMAC standings, respectively. The most winnable game by far—the matchup at Clark University, which is at the bottom of the standings—will conclude the Lions’ regular season on Feb. 21.
“Theoretically, there’s only one team in the conference that can’t make the playoffs,” said Gould. “We could really finish out of the playoffs or in the top four, and that’s what is so exciting about being in the hunt this time of the year.”
In terms of the team’s game plan as it enters the final stretch of the season, Gould said a steady dose of what’s been working all year is in order.
“We’ve been a strong defensive team all year long, and that will be the key for the rest of the year,” he said. “When we’re defending well, every other aspect of our game comes along.”
A loss on Feb. 11 against Worcester Polytechnic Institute hurt the playoff push for the Lions and their longest-tenured senior core in history.
“We have the talent and the capability to make the playoffs this year,” said Nobile. “It’s going to come down to executing our game plan, playing well under pressure, and having each other’s backs.”