Belles’ woes continue with young roster
Ryan Kolakowski | Friday, May 19, 2017
The Belles endured a year of transition on the hardwood, struggling to collect wins with a new head coach.
Despite its struggles, Saint Mary’s (2-23, 1-15 MIAA) remained optimistic throughout the season. Belles head coach Melissa Makielski said she was impressed with her team’s resilience throughout the year.
“I was most impressed by the determination and competitiveness of this team,” Makielski said. “Regardless of what the score was, they continued to battle and improve in every game and practice. They never wanted to quit on the team or each other.”
The Belles brought a young team to the court this season, with only two seniors on the roster. Makielski said she expects this year of experience will benefit the team going forward.
“Our underclassmen got a lot of playing experience this season against some of the top teams in the country,” Makielski said. “The players that will be returning next season now understand the level they need to compete at in order to improve the program. They have learned that during practice, they have to compete in every possession and carry that over to the games. You cannot take possessions off and expect to see positive results.”
Makielski was especially excited by the growth of the freshman class, as freshmen made up half of the roster for the season.
“I give a lot of credit to the freshman class,” Makielski said. “At any level it can be difficult to make the jump from high school to college. They had the added stress of a coaching change during the summer and a lot of expectations on them throughout the season. They came into the season knowing they were going to have to contribute right away. They handled the adversities thrown their way and continued to work every day to get better.”
While the Belles are stacked with youth, the team will have to deal with some transition as seniors graduate. Senior forward Kelsey Ronan contributed an average of seven points per game, but Makielski is especially concerned with replacing leadership on her young team.
“I think for us more so than the points they provided, we need to replace their leadership and playing experience,” Makielski said. “Ronan was a solid four-year contributor for our program. We can replace the points with recruiting but it is the leadership and experience that I will be looking for early on next season.”
Makielski is excited to transition to the 2017-2018 season, and she has high expectations for her newcomers going forward.
“The expectations for the newcomers are that they are prepared to step in right away and contribute,” Makielski said. “The goal is to recruit quality student-athletes who can challenge the returners for playing time and to make each other better during practice.”