STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Head women’s basketball coach Jennie Baranczyk addressed the media for the first time this season last Wednesday to discuss her goals for the 40th season of Drake women’s basketball.
Coming off a fifth-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bulldogs return nine players with experience. Drake is predicted to start the season near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference, an expectation that Baranczyk addressed.
“We don’t feel the pressure … We want to be picked high in the league,” Baranczyk said.
Senior guard Kyndal Clark, last year’s MVC Player of the Year and team captain, will be a clear leader this season.
Baranczyk spoke highly of her star player’s legacy and the example she sets for her younger teammates.
“Clark’s presence is a legacy … that must be seen,” Baranczyk said.
Clark knows she has a big role to fill.
“Live in the moment and help (the freshmen) understand that everyday matters. We need to come everyday to get better, to be an impact,” Clark said.
Drake features four seniors this season, more than last year’s one. And yet, they are optimistic about their youth. Baranczyk spoke of her young players, including the three freshmen.
“They will play,” Baranczyk and Clark assured.
Drake is not starting from scratch. Last year the Bulldogs were first in conference in scoring, three pointers and assists. They look to keep their hot shooting up, while also having more presence in the post. Not to mention, four of last year’s starting five are returning for another season at the Knapp Center.
Clark will attempt to provide a spark early.
“I’m just trying to bring energy and excitement,” Clark said.
Sophomore Lizzy Wendell comes off an astounding freshman campaign and was the team’s second leading scorer. Wendell outlined her goals for Drake this season.
“For the whole team, start with the momentum we ended with at the end of last year … Take each day one at a time and just to get better each day.”
Clark added to the importance of each day of the regular season.
“We have a long season, it’s six months. We start practice in October and we play until March … these are the building blocks for tomorrow and for March,” Clark said.
Clark was confident about the upcoming season, as well. She said that the Bulldogs are “looking for a championship and we’re looking to go to the NCAA tournament.”
Baranczyk echoed her sentiments.
“We want it,” Baranczyk said.
This team has big goals, and Baranczyk said they have the appropriate mindset to go about achieving it.
“What is a winning attitude?” Baranczyk asked her team. “I’m proud of the team and how far we’ve come,” she said, but wants even more come game time.
Clark said the rest of the conference should fear the Bulldogs this season.
“We’re here and we mean business,” Clark said.
The Bulldogs will open play with their only exhibition game of the year on Nov. 9 in the Knapp Center against Upper Iowa.
The regular season starts two days later at home against South Dakota with tip-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m.