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Basketball Sports

Baranczyk reflects on first season as head coach

Story by Ashley Beall

Photo by Luke Nankivell

coachb_nankivell-w800-h800Drake women’s basketball head coach Jennie Baranczyk has had a busy year a Bulldog. She was named head coach in April 2012. Her son, Elijah, was born in May 2012. She led the Bulldogs to their first 2012-13 win in November 2012. In March, she completed her first season as a head coach. The Times-Delphic sat down with Baranczyk to discuss the 2012-13 season, her 2013-14 goals and the fans’ brewing excitement for the future of Drake women’s basketball.

Times-Delphic: Reflecting back on this season, what are you most proud of about your team?

Jennie Baranczyk: The growth from the very beginning of the season to the very end of the season. I think there’s a lot of maturity. I think there’s a lot of growth on the court. I think there’s a lot of growth off the court, and I think we had some leadership arise, and we just got better. We were really fun to watch. We had some really close games with the top teams in our conference, and so it gives us a shining light heading into next season.

TD: What areas of the game do you hope to improve for next season?

JB: Obviously, there’s going to a lot of different things in understanding the style, understanding our offense system and our defensive system, and just being able to really complete those games. So that maturity now has to take another step, and we’ve taken steps from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, but there’s going to be a big step between this season and next season. Being able to really have that confidence to finish out those games next season is going to be huge for us this summer.

TD: Was there a specific game that sticks out in your mind where everything fell into place?

JB: I think we’ve had a couple of those games. I think our game against Missouri State in the tournament was one of the best games we’ve played, and I think when we played at UNI that was another great game. When we lost at Creighton, we did a lot of really good things and could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but didn’t, but those are some of the games that at the very end of the season I was really proud of our effort. I was really proud of the way things gelled, and our players really bought into that, too, and they see what we can do.

TD: Which players showed immense growth throughout the season?

JB: I think we had a lot of players, I mean I could go down the line. I think (sophomore) Kyndal Clark grew a lot during the year. I think she became a floor leader for us. She hit some big shots and took some big shots. (Junior) Morgan Reid had a tremendous year. She nearly averaged a double-double in conference play, and that’s, again, more leadership. Liza Heap  stepped up big-time at the end of the season and really grew as a sophomore. (Freshman) Ashley Bartow did as a freshman, and those are just to name a few. I could talk about (sophomore) Cara Lutes. I could talk about (freshman) Emma Donahue, who steps up in our Missouri State game in the tournament, who didn’t see a significant playing time early but stayed with it and kept going, and I mean I could literally talk about every single one of our players on our team.

TD: Do you have certain goals for next season that you’ve already started talking about?

JB: Right now the biggest thing we are working on is our coaching staff and our players are all doing self-evaluations, and then we’re also doing evaluations of each of our individual players both on-court strengths, off-court strengths, on-court opportunities, off-court opportunities and then identifying those things we really need to work on and those threats that we have. So, we really extensively look at one-on-one, and right now,  we’re very focused on that individual skill development and then in the summer as we continue to go, it will be more of the strength and individual skill development and then we get more into the team stuff as we keep going on. We have very specific plans for each of our individuals but both on-court and off-court development.

TD: Do you have anything that you would like the fans to know?

JB: It’s going to be an awesome season next year. I know that people say that a lot, but if our fans that have come have really bought into what we’re doing and every single person you talk to says right away, “I’m so excited for next year to begin,” and it’s still March, and when you can have that kind of season already for the next season, it’s only going to continue to grow. We were third in conference attendance in our conference, and I really think that we can win that. We have the base here in Des Moines. We have the base here with our students, and we had a number of games where we had a huge student section, which is incredible because that really makes a difference. That’s our sixth man. That is what is going to make a difference between us being in the top half of the conference and the very top of the conference.

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