Story by Ashley Beall
For Drake women’s basketball, last season didn’t go as hoped. It marked the first season under head coach Jennie Baranczyk, and it was a season that marked more than what the standings reflected. It was a period of growth and understanding.
“The biggest thing from a year ago was the growth we had throughout the season and where we ended the season,” Baranczyk said. “We had really high confidence. We were playing high level basketball, and our goal really is to start this season where we ended last season.”
The Bulldogs finished seventh in the conference and look to this season as the one where everything falls into place.
“I hope that we can start the year on a good note and continue to improve. I think as long as we’re improving, we’ll be a great team, and being a senior this year, I want to have a great year. . . . but I also would love to get a banner, to have one hanging up there after my last year here,” said senior Morgan Reid.
“I also want to set up the girls up for success, and I want to just leave a legacy and leave them with all that I have.”
Reid is one of three seniors looking to lead the team this year.
“I think Morgan Reid really stepped up in her season last year and not only improved her game but also in her leadership. I think Alyssa Marschner and Mary Pat Specht are those teammates that just bring it every day,” Baranczyk said.
With a big hole left to fill after center Stephanie Running graduated last year, the team has been working hard to step up and take her place.
“I think we’ve had a lot of people step up and fill that hole. Emma Donahue has had a great summer. Cara Lutes has had a great summer, and I think that with the leadership that Morgan Reid has and the experience Ashley Bartow got this year, I think it’s going to be fun to see them continuing to grow but continue to fill the void that Stephanie left,” Baranczyk said.
The Bulldogs welcomed two new freshmen, and the team can already see how much easier the transition is not only with the players, but with the coaching staff as well.
“We were learning a new system last year, and the thing that I kind of like to joke around with is that last year we were learning a new system with 13 different people with four of those being freshmen and one of those being a junior college transfer that don’t know what it’s like to play Division I basketball,” said junior guard Kyndal Clark.
“Whereas this year we have to teach only two new freshmen a system that we are already comfortable with, and yes, we’re still learning, but we already have that foundation, so we’re getting to dive deeper into options that we weren’t even able to comprehend last year.”
As for how they hope this season will go, Baranczyk has goals that she hopes the team will achieve.
“Honestly, we need to get better,” Baranczyk said. “We need to continue to not only represent our program but represent our entire university, and I think that’s a huge goal of ours this season, and that’s not only to start the season like we ended last season, but continue that same growth and continue to grow and continue to have improvement in our development. I think when you can do those things it benefits you on the floor and off the floor.”