The Waynesburg University women’s basketball team comes into this season in a similar situation it was a year ago. Going into the 2018 season, the Yellow Jackets had just 10 players on the roster. At the start of this season, they will once again have just 10 players on the roster.
During a season where the Jackets exhibited a lot of youth on the court, they finished 8-18 overall and 6-10 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Then the Jackets fell to Westminster in the first round of the conference tournament by eight points.
Head coach Sam Jones thinks that applying what his team learns in practice more during games will lead to a more successful campaign.
“We just have to focus on being a little more consistent,” Jones said. “We have to focus on taking what we learn in practice and applying it to game day a little bit better. This year we have a lot of young kids again and a lot of turnover, but I do think the lessons of last year will be able to help us.”
Junior guard Andrea Orlosky averaged 17.3 points per game last year which was third in the PAC. Despite individual success, Orlosky feels that, collectively, the Jackets could have been better last season.
“The mentality and the way that we played last year wasn’t up to our standard that I know we could have played,” Orlosky said. “This year I think we’re really focused on being mentally tough and physically strong. I think it’s going to be [important] getting the freshmen into the new roles that they’re going to be playing, and they need to know that they have a really big role on the team.”
This year, the Lady Jackets will have just one senior, Erin Joyce. As a result they’ll have a lot of youth in the five new members on the team, which includes freshman Lacey Russell, Anika Dansby, Leighton Croft, Zoie Smith as well as transfer Allie Delany.
“We will have to have them make an impact on this team right away,” Jones said. “I’ve been very pleased with all four of our freshmen. They are doing a nice job and up to speed and certainly we will lean on them and they’ll have to figure out the college game pretty quickly.”
During the offseason, Jones added two assistant coaches to his staff. The first one is graduate assistant Jess Vormelker, who played at Thiel and was the second leading scorer in the PAC last season. The other new assistant is Matt Pioch who is also the director of housing at Waynesburg University.
Jones likes the impact that Pioch and Vormelker are making on the team.
“Coach Pioch works with [post players] ,” Jones said. “He’s done a really nice job. Our posts have improved. Brooke [Fuller] has made major steps. Due in part to coach Pioch [and] due in part to a lot of really hard work by her, so the combination has been good.”
Despite being listed as a guard, Orlosky spends time down low as well, and is grateful for Pioch joining the staff.
“He’s doing a really good job of teaching us new moves, and helping us down in the post,” Orlosky said. “He’s a really good person to have on our team because he’s super motivating and is always putting everyone in a good mood.”
Jones said Vormelker is teaching the Lady Jackets about being mentally tough.
“Coach Vormelker is working with our wings and guards and is doing a really good job there,” Jones said. “She’s doing a great job of just trying to help them understand the mentality of what a great player is because that’s what she was.”
Jones feels the Jackets can build upon last season.
“In conference I would certainly like to finish higher than we did last year, and win a playoff game or two,” Jones said. “We always play hard but [we need to] play with a hard-mental focus and attention to detail.”
Orlosky wants to exceed last season, both statistically and as a leader.
“I just want to do better than last year,” Orlosky said. “I want to be better on the court but also off the court as a leader.”
Orlosky has some specific goals for herself this season.
“Rebounding is probably one of my biggest goals that I always want to do because I think rebounding is just super important,” Orlosky said. “If I score, I score. I just want to make sure that the team will be able to work together.”
Waynesburg will open its season Friday Nov. 8 at home against Penn State Behrend. Its first PAC game is Wednesday Dec. 4 at Grove City.