The UMary Women’s Basketball team is set for one of its earliest starts to a season in program history.
With Concordia set to make a visit in eight days, the Marauders are hoping for a better start than the COVID season last year.
Spirits are high at the Mac. The UMary women are back at practice and after a disappointing season last year, they want to get things back on track.
It’s amazing to be back out so early,” says Forward Lexie Schneider. “We’ve been waiting for it all year. It’s nice, everybody was super excited to get back on the floor. Neumann was excited so a lot of great energy.”
I think we have a lot of new girls but we have a lot of younger girls getting older who know what they’re doing and help me out,” says Guard Macy Williams. “So it’s more so just getting the younger girls up to speed on what we do and how we do things and once we start playing, it’s an even playing field.”
The start and stop of last season didn’t help the Marauders’ cause. A team that relies on momentum and big shots for their formula to success.
We didn’t necessarily show up all the time,” says head coach Rick Neumann. “And then there’s some reasons for that and a lot of things that we don’t want to talk about anymore. But that’s our mantra this year, ‘Show Up.’ Every practice, every game, yourself, as a team, as coaches, show up, and if we do that, this team has as much talent as anyone that we’ve put on the floor in the last few years.”
The first hurdle that comes to mind for UMary is replacing a leading scorer like Lauren Rotunda. But with veterans Macy Williams, Megan Voit and Lexie Schneider coming back, there’s a good shot they can step up and shoulder the load.
“I think our greatest ability is that we’re deep and we have a lot of girls that can score,” says Williams. “There’s not one girl on the floor at any time that can’t make a play, can’t get a score or rebound. Neumann, our coach, says everyone can score anytime. No ones not allowed to shoot so I think that makes us harder to guard and helps our offense a lot.”
“I think to expect one person to do everything she did for us statistically is maybe asking a little too much,” says Neumann. “But I think collectively we have a more athletic, deeper group of girls that can help fill that piece that she had. Maybe someone does the rebounding that she did. Someone does the scoring that she did.”
Schneider especially can take over those rebounding duties. A player that the Marauders can flow their offense through from the inside out.
“I think she’s the best back to basket big in the entire Northern Sun,” says Neumann. “So what I’m expecting out of her is continued growth. She lead the Northern Sun in double-doubles last year. She has a goal to do that again and I think that’s easily attainable.”
Schneider even has goals of averaging a double-double on the season.
“UMary has had a lot of great posts to look up to so I’m always learning from them,” says Schneider. “My personal game is quickness. I like to be quick on my feet. Get off the ground, get a good shot there, so I think quickness is what I’m working with, going towards the basket a little bit more.”
A new but familiar face will play for the blue and orange this season: Miss Basketball and standout from Mandan Megan Zander makes her return home after transferring from UND.
He recruited me throughout high school,” says Guard Megan Zander. “I just wanted to play in front of my family and my grandparents and the people here. When I came out for my visit, the girls were super welcoming and really nice and made me feel comfortable and at home, so I think it was a good fit for me.”
Adding a player with the caliber of Zander is the biggest x-factor to getting back on top in the Northern Sun.
“We’ve had some girls be able to do some different things than her,” says Neumann. “But as far as just a perimeter player that can go get a high-quality shot without needing a lot of help, that’s something new and exciting for our program.”
With a shoot-first mentality, UMary is ready to post some big numbers on the offensive end.
“We’ve had that for 20 years out here,” says Neumann. “If you don’t shoot the open shot, you’re more likely to come out than if you miss a shot. So I just think that’s my personal belief of mine. It’s a hard game man. You got to know that that guy sitting on the end of the bench has faith in you and that’s what I’m trying to get across to all of our girls this year as well. We believe in you. Believe in yourselves. Believe in each other. Now let’s go out and make some magic.
UMary is set to make their home debut with Concordia on Nov. 1.