Basketball season is almost upon us, and for the women’s basketball team, the expectations are certainly high. Almost the whole team, including its five starters, is returning from the previous year. Alex Brunk, Madison West and Roya Rustamzada have already been named to the PacWest preseason team.
“We’ve all played together for two [or] three years, so we’re very upperclassman heavy,” Brunk, a forward on the team, noted when asked about the team’s strengths. “We have very good shooters on our team and very good point guards who can really break down defenses, [also] very good drivers. We pretty much have a good player in every position so I think that’s what our strengths are.”
Yuendie Guridi, a point guard and shooting guard who goes by Wendy, agreed and added, “This is our third year [together], so the chemistry and the relationships are really strong. I would say that’s a huge thing, and we have a lot of very talented athletic scorers.”
The women’s basketball team’s head coach, Bill Westphal, retired last year after seventeen seasons, leading to Lisa Faulkner replacing him as head coach. Coach Faulkner was a two-time All-American when she played and came from assistant coaching at Boston College, a Division I school where she specialized in the development of perimeter players, offensive strategy and recruitment.
Still, transitions always bring about challenges, as noted by Guridi, “A big challenge would probably be the fact that we have a completely new coaching staff. So it’s a new system, and I think us adjusting to that will probably be a challenge. But I don’t think it’ll affect us too much because everything is meshing so [well]. I think it’ll actually get better very quickly… Our coach does come from a Division I program, so I feel like the standards have been risen… there’s a huge focus on discipline… I would say it’s actually good changes; it’s not bad.”
Brunk also sees the change in coaching staff as a positive for the team. “I think the coaching staff—the new changes— is phenomenal for our team… She expects us to be competitive every practice, to be committed to each other and to serve each other. Those are her three core principles and she really holds us accountable to that every day… I think it’s going to be very beneficial to our team to be held to a really high standard this year.” Brunk thinks that the challenge the team faces this year will be, “remaining consistent as [the] season goes on. I think our biggest challenge will be keeping up the energy level from game to game… in the event that we don’t play well or have a tough game, just [let] it go and [focus] on the next one.”
The team’s biggest opponents will be Cal Baptist and Azusa Pacific. Still, Brunk and Guridi both see the team going far. “My hopes would be that we would win a PacWest Championship. I think we have a very good team this year that has a lot of potential,” Brunk stated. “I could see us being competitive in [the] conference and hopefully winning, and then after that hopefully making it to the postseason and play-offs. Ultimately, our goal would be to win a national championship, but you [have to] start small before you can get there. That’s one of our desires, and we just want to be a great team. So that’s where I hope that we get and that’ll just start everyday in practice— just keeping to competitiveness, making sure that everyday we’re focusing on the little things. It’s one game at a time… it’s [about] keeping our focus on what’s next and not looking down at the end of season but [instead]… what we need to do today to get to the end of season.”
The first women’s basketball game will be against the University of San Diego on Tuesday, November 8, and they will also be hosting the PacWest/CCAA tournament on November 11-12. Go out and show them your support!