Suffolk University’s women’s basketball team has been one of the school’s most productive athletic programs for a decade and coach Leyden believes this year will be more of the same.
“Our goal is to play smart basketball in the second half of the season and play in March. I think we have solid enough talent to have a lot of fun late in the season,” Leyden said.
One of the reasons the head coach is so confident in his team is the fact the older members have passed on the culture to the younger players.
“We take pride in how hard we practice and our team spirit. The players have been welcoming to the new freshmen. That uplifting attitude helps in a long season,” said the longtime coach.
The Lady Rams have not posted a losing record in over 15 seasons and have averaged 15 wins a year since Leyden became the head coach in 1994.
In order to keep up that winning tradition however, the 2012 edition of his team will need to implement their new freshmen talent into the fold. Suffolk has five newcomers on the squad.
Leyden said that the adjustment for the team’s new freshmen has been a mixed bag, explaining: “the past two weeks they’ve been flooded with information. They’ve had to practice harder than they ever have had to before. Some [players] have had a seamless transition; others it’s been harder but that’s to be expected.”
The coach is likely hoping his new players will be ready for the opening tournament of the season, when Suffolk will be a part of the Ramapo Tip-Off Tournament.
Two of the Lady Rams’ three opponents in the tournament have yet to be announced but Leyden has already begun to study the tape of early-year foe Mount Saint Vincent. Suffolk will face off against the Dolphins in its second game of the tournament.
“It’ll be a high-level tournament. We haven’t been able to team scrimmage against anybody but we’ve been concentrating on ourselves [in practice]…trying to play solid Suffolk basketball,” said Leyden.
One hole that needs to be filled for Leyden’s squad is the role of a dominant defender; in other words, graduated senior Meghan Black’s old position on the team. The 2011 alum is one of the best defenders in Suffolk women’s basketball history in Leyden’s eyes and he admits he needs to find someone to shut down the opponent’s best player.
The coach doesn’t seem too worried about filling that void, however, explaining: “We’re all about the team and specific roles. Everyone is expected to do what they do.”
Leyden has not made a habit of fielding unsuccessful squads in the past and he appears dedicated to making sure that statement continues to be true in 2012.
The Lady Rams begin their season Friday, Nov. 16 where they will play two of their scheduled three games in the Ramapo Tip-Off Tournament.