The road to MAACs begin: Griffs ride three-game win streak into conference play

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

 

In the midst of a three-game winning streak at home, the women’s basketball team heads on the road, where they are still winless, to begin their 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks and the Rider University Broncos this weekend.

Currently sitting at a 3-2 overall record, coming off a three-game undefeated homestand, the team heads out on the road to continue their recent success and get MAAC play off to a great start.

Head Coach Terry Zeh said that the team will spend this week in practice mainly focusing on ball control because “we’re still a little bit careless with the basketball.. our rebounding is getting better, so we continue to work on that.”

Sophomore guard Margret Halfdanardottir said that Zeh has been pushing the team mentality in order to be prepared for their first two MAAC games this weekend. “He’s not pushing us too much physically, but it’s more about mentally communicating and working hard.”

Halfdanardottir, the Hafnarfjordur Iceland native, is averaging 28 minutes and 12 points a game so far this season. A large increase compared to the numbers she was posting last year. She is also shooting an astonishing .650 percent from behind the arc this year.

Freshman guard Maria Welch said that Zeh has been pushing them throughout the week in practice, both mentally and physically. “We’ve been doing really well playing together these past few games so we just need to keep that intensity going with one another.”

He also stresses the improvement on the offensive side of the ball over the last couple games. The keys for the team are to “take the positives from the last few ball games, but also not forget the things we didn’t do well as well.”

Welch said the team has been working on things that we’ve been struggling with from the first games in the season and “I feel like we’ve really improved in all aspects of the game that we’ve been working on.”

Zeh also said that it’s important for this team to go on the road and be able to win in hostile environment. “There is a difference, sometimes mentality, to going on road trips, because there’s an educational aspect and be able to enjoy the time together. There’s also times when we need to be attentive to the business side of what we’re trying to do and that’s being successful on the court.”

Winning on the road has been arguably the only problem facing the Griffs so far this season. The first road loss for the Griffs was a close game, only losing by two points. The second loss however was a 14 point loss that came at the hands of our cross town rival, the University of Buffalo.

However, Halfdanardottir believes that whether the team’s on the road or at home it “doesn’t really matter much.” She feels that with the experience the team has gained since their last road game, “we now have the confidence to go on the road and get those wins.”

Welch thinks that it is a little harder on the road because “we wouldn’t have the same intensity that we have at home, so we’re trying to find a way to stay together, whether on the court and on the bench so that we can stay focused.”

According to Zeh, maturity will also be a key to victory for this team because the veterans “understand more clearly now the difference between when it’s time to go off and time to be serious, and that’s going to be important to getting that monkey off our back and getting a road win and starting off conference play the way we liked to start.”

“After each game, whether it’s a losing game or a winning game, we do the same practice with the same intensity and it’s always thinking about the next game,” Halfdanardottir said. She says that his practices are the same with always looking ahead to the next game. “After winning three games, we are really motivated to go and win our first MAAC game.”

As an individual player, Halfdanardottir says it’s important for her to just keep staying aggressive. “Since I’m scoring a lot from the three, they’re going to play me close, so I’m just going to drive more and score out of the situation.”

If Halfdanardottir can continue posting the numbers she has been, the Griffs could see an end to the road losing slump. Her aggressive play has been noticeable so far this season as she leads the team in points, three pointers and field goals. Halfdanardottir has been rewarded by leading the team in minutes played too.

“I think any time early in the season, when teams win games, they can develop some confidence about what you’re trying to do and I think that always helps,” Zeh added. He also believes it’s quite difficult for a team to develop chemistry and believe in each other if they’re also not earning victories.

“Obviously, you want to start off on a positive note,” Zeh said. He feels that while it’s tough starting MAAC play on the road, it has its benefits because you can accomplish team bonding and growing chemistry if everything that wants to get accomplished indeed does.

When it comes to the MAAC schedule and games in general, Zeh likes to take it one game at a time and determine how they can beat their next opponent, and also try not to think too far ahead down the road. “You can’t ever look ahead in sports, because once you start looking ahead, and you’re gonna falter because you’re going to forget about what’s right in front of you.”

“I think it’s just going to motivate us a lot,” Halfdanardottir added. She believes the team can win these upcoming games “and to be able to go there and show it. We’ve been preparing for these MAAC games, so it’s just going to motivate us even more.”

“It’s so important because it will definitely boost our confidence as a whole,” Welch said, about the importance of starting off MAAC schedule on a winning note. “I feel we can beat any team at any time, it just depends on how well we’re playing at the time.”

Regardless of the results of these games, Welch believes it will be a good experience for the team and “improve things that we struggled with and improve the things that we did well with.”
In the end, the goal for this team is to get better because “regardless if you win or lose games, you have to keep that upward trend going and that’s our goal; can we get a little better each day and that will make us better in the end and get us the results we want.”

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