WBB: Defense, agility are keys for success in the new season

Members of the women’s basketball team are preparing for their upcoming season after last year’s team only played ten games due to COVID-19.

Last year, the Colonels finished 3-7, and they hope to improve on that record this season.

“We are looking forward to getting back to a full year of action and appreciate the opportunities that are in front of us,” said head coach Tara Macciocco. “Everyone is so much more appreciative of the opportunity to compete on a daily basis.”

Wilkes is looking to replace two big players from last year’s team in Maddie Kelley and Gabby Smicherko. Kelley and Smicherko were key to both the offensive and defensive side of the ball for the Colonels, and were the leaders of a young squad.

The two seniors on this year’s team, guards Kendra Smith and Juliann Duignam, are stepping up in terms of leadership for the Colonels on and off the court. They realize they have to be much more vocal to help get this Wilkes team to their full potential.

“As a senior, I’ve been trying to take the underclassmen under my wing and get them accustomed to the style of play, as well as the culture of the team,” said Duignam.

The pride of the program since Macciocco took over as head coach has been defense. The Colonels will look to impose their will on the defensive side of the ball this year. They have quick guards that can pressure the ball, to go along with tall shot blockers in the paint to contest the rim.

“We’re looking to be a strong defensive team and force other teams to be uncomfortable offensively,” said Smith.

Wilkes is focused on being one of the toughest teams in the conference. They know that shots will not fall every night, but their defense can help create easier offense for a relatively inexperienced group. This will help them compete in a tough MAC-Freedom conference.

“I think our offense will come from our defense,” said Duignam. “If we can get stops at one end of the court, the offense will fall into place.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Colonels will look to grow after a strong ending to last year’s season.

Their young players got a taste of college basketball last year in the shortened season, but a full practice schedule and season should allow the young guns to improve on offense day in and day out.

“We want to be a team that outworks our opponents every game,” said Macciocco. “We play extremely hard and leave it all on the floor. We have a very quick lineup at every position, and hope to take advantage of our speed on both ends of the floor.”

The team is eager to get better and to start competition. They have all the tools to compete with every team in the conference.

“I’m looking forward to being able to get back onto the court this year and compete with all of my teammates,” said Smith. “I’m excited for this program to take the next step in elevating our level of play.”

The Colonels will look to get off to a quick start on the season when they host Penn State Worthington Scranton at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 inside the Marts Center.

Photo Courtesy of Assistant Coach Lindsay Howard – Senior guard Kendra Smith performs a nasty crossover against a Misericordia defender during their second match-up of the season. Smith proceeded to drive to the hoop and score a contested lay-up on March 12.