It’s a the beginning of a new era for the Boston College women’s basketball team. After two straight seasons of winning under 10 games, the Eagles begin their first season under new head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee this Thursday. BC Interruption sat down with Coach Bernabei-McNamee to talk about the upcoming season and why fans should get out there and support this team.
BCI: In your introductory press conference you mentioned conditioning and fundamentals as the two major areas you wanted to work on with this team. Is that what you’ve continued to focus on?
JBM: Yes, the things that we can control are the things that we’ve really been working hard at. I believe our team is in pretty good shape. We had two closed scrimmages and I felt like we were the aggressor in terms of the team that was in better shape. One of the things I like about this time is that they’re bought into what we’re trying to do and they’re allowing us to coach them pretty hard. I see improvement every day. This team wants to fight - there is fight in them and that’s exciting as a coach.
BCI: This is a really young team. You have no seniors and 8 freshman. What can fans expect to see out of the underclassmen?
JBM: Three of the freshmen I think we’re going to see get a lot of playing time because I do play an up-tempo style, so I can’t just play a few kids. For me, an ideal setting is when you can rotate 8 or 9 kids in and out and allow them to wear themselves out and not pace themselves on the floor. We’re still building that rotation and trying to figure out what exactly it’s going to be. We’re still trying to figure out what roles each player is going to have. I think because the team is so young and they’re still learning the coaching staff, they’re still learning what their role is going to be - and I’m still trying to formulate what I want their role to be.
BCI: From an outsider’s perspective, there already seems to be a strong team bond this year. Is that something you’ve worked on?
JBM: They have a team chemistry that I think fans will be able to see, and hopefully it’s something we can use against our opponents. The team does have a really unique love for each other on the court, and maybe it’s because we’re a new staff and only one of them really chose to play for us - everybody else was kind of thrown into this fire. But the team has really bonded together and I think they’ve really bonded with our staff. I know, for me, I’m as close to them as probably I’ve been to any team and I’ve just gotten here. I like our chemistry off the court; our chemistry on the court is a work in progress, but we make strides every day.
BCI: What goals do you and the team have for the season?
JBM: Martin [Jarmond] always says what he wants all of our athletic teams to do is compete. Not to steal from him, but that really is our goal this year - to make it a dogfight for whomever comes in to play so we’re leaving everything on the floor. That is a mindset that we’re still learning and I’m hoping that all the hard coaching that we’re doing and all of the good buy-in they’re giving us pays off to where you see a team that looks confident when they step out on the floor and when the going gets tough, we get going.
BCI: Over the past few seasons in particular, away games have been a huge problem for this team. Is that something you think you’ll be able to work on?
JBM: It’s so early to say, but we have to be our own support system. We should never feel like we’re on the road or away, because we have each other. The team has bought into that. They’re very supportive of each one another and with that support, for example, when we have practice they compete with each other and they get after each other. There has not been a practice this year where we haven’t had kids diving on loose balls and ramming into each other and it’s great that they’re able to do that and still stay connected and have great chemistry. But as far as how we’re going to be on the road, I’m not really sure what the pulse of our team is going to be on the road. All teams are different - sometimes too much time in the hotel with drive a team crazy, on the flip sometimes eating out and not getting that time in the hotel drives a team crazy. I don’t know we’re gonna have yet but we’ll figure it out pretty quickly. But I don’t think they know what they want yet, so they don’t have any high expectations or demands for how it needs to be, and sometimes that’s the greatest thing about a young team - they can mold themselves into being easy-going and not superstitious.
BCI: Looking forward, can you talk a little bit about recruiting and continuing to bring this team into a new era?
JBR: Recruiting has been going pretty well. The big class that we’re working on is the 2020 class and I think that we’re on some really good players for that class. They really want to see how the tables are going to turn a little bit with what we produce this year. Sometimes that’s a little bit tough because we are so young, but I have confidence that everybody is going to see a different brand of work ethic, desire, and heart.
BCI: What should fans be looking to as a metric for success this season?
JBR: I think hopefully fans are going to come and get behind a team works extremely hard and that you can see has passion. I think that’s what they’ll see in us, and I think our style of play will be enjoyable to watch. We’re still a work in progress, but I think especially the fans that are true basketball fans will be able to get what we’re trying to do.
BCI: What do you want to say to the students and BC alums to encourage them to come watch BC WBB this season?
JBR: Nothing is better than live basketball and you never know when the big moment is going to happen. You want to be in the stands watching when that big moment does happen.
BC Women’s Basketball opens their home season on Sunday, November 11 @ 4 PM following MBB’s second home game.