Basketball season is upon us, and the PLNU Women’s Basketball team is ready for another season of battle on the court. Coming off a 19–11 season last year (12–8 in PacWest Conference play), they are eager to build upon their success with a major part of their core remaining intact, only losing three seniors. “We could take some people by surprise,” said Head Coach Lisa Faulkner. “We’ve built a program that everyone in the PacWest respects.”
As competitors, the goal is to always compete for championships, because it is the ultimate reward of hard work paying off. That road to success, however, is very difficult and takes a total team effort. “I think the expectation is to always compete for the PacWest Championship,” said Faulkner. “If we’re doing that we’re setting ourselves up to go to the NCAA Tournament and see where we go from there, so every practice that we have, every training that we have, it’s to build ourselves up to a point where we’re playing championship basketball by the time March comes around.”
Despite the amount of younger players on this team, and with the roles that were left behind by the graduated seniors, the expectation is for them to step up their game this season. Losing someone as crucial as Roya Rustamzada, who averaged 16.1 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, will be tough to do, but the amount of young talent with one year’s experience already on the squad is a huge benefit.
“What I expect is for them [is] to step up into that leadership role,” said senior guard Yuendie Guridi in reference to the younger players. “I also expect for us to adapt. A big part of it is adaptation and how we adapt to new circumstances as long as everyone does their part.”
A familiar face has re-joined this team, but in a different role. Stephanie Williams, who just graduated last year, will now be helping coach the same teammates she was just going to battle with the year before. “It’s definitely a big role change for her,” said sophomore guard Cara Liggins. “She’s easier to relate to than the rest of the coaches on the bench, because she was literally there last year.” Guridi also had high praise of her former teammate, now assistant coach, in regards to how she will help the team this season. “One, she brings a very composed-like feel and attitude to the court, and second, she could also be a great support for the new girls in regards to experience to share.”
With the team’s first game not being until Nov. 1 against Loyola Marymount, there is still plenty of time to get better over the course of the season in order to reach that ultimate goal of competing for the PacWest Championship and qualification in the NCAA Tournament.