By Angelica Niedermeyer, Asst. Sports Editor
The Manhattan College women’s basketball team is the shining star this year. Led by the always supportive Coach Heather Vulin in her seventh season and three motivated captains — Dee Dee Davis, Brazil Harvey-Carr and Christinia Katsamouri — the Lady Jaspers deserve more praise than ever for their efforts this year.
Despite their current 0-2 record in non-conference games against Wagner and Stony Brook this week, after being picked second in the preseason poll and Davis being picked preseason player of the year, the team shares their expectations for their bright season ahead.
“It’s an honor to be picked so high whenever you are recognized as one of the top three teams in the league,” Davis, a senior guard, said. “However, we do know that with that comes a lot of responsibility. We want to continue to hold ourselves to the standards that our coaching staff holds us to and gun for that first spot.”
Some may look at the two losses already this season as a step back, but the team seems to be taking notes. They plan to carry out their predicted preseason ranking expectations onto the court by using their teamwork skills and defensive assets to their advantage.
“I think that it sounds really simple, or it is really simple to us,” said Davis. “Do what put us in these positions to be successful in the first place. [We are] not trying to do these ESPN highlight things every play, not trying to win it in the first or second possession. What’s going to get it done for us is being poised and staying true to our defensive principles. [We are] not playing anyone else’s competition, not playing anyone else’s caliber or not letting anyone speed us up. [We are] just doing what we do best, which is rebounding, boxing out, and running fast.”
Not only will the team advance because of their skills, but it will be the team’s close-knit dynamic which shows on the court and that leads them to win.
“We are definitely going to carry our DNA on the court,” senior captain Katsamouri said. “I feel like what is so special about us is our culture and this is something that I believe is one of the reasons why we were ranked so high and why we have been very successful in the past year.”
After an extremely close loss in overtime to Wagner of 60-63, which Vulin refers to as “the best opening game crowd we have had since I have been here” and a tough setback to Stony Brook of 51-69, the team sees the losses this early in the season differently than others would.
“Unfortunately, we lost the first two games of our season, but this will allow us to stay focused on our principles and allow us to be mentally tough for the games we have leading on to MAAC play,” said senior guard Harvey-Carr.
The team’s outlook on the season is to learn from the other highly ranked teams not in their conference and to win a championship in the MAAC. Even though their current MAAC ranking is 7 out of 11, this is only the beginning for the Jaspers.
“I told the team, we schedule a non-conference to play other teams that want to compete for championships,” Vulin said. “The first team we played was picked first in their league. The second team we played was picked third. Next Saturday, when we open up at home we are playing another team picked to win their league. We want to bring a championship to Jasper Nation. So, we have a very challenging schedule. Unfortunately right now, we have a number of key injuries. Brazil is out, Petra is out, but we were picked second for a reason.”
Before the Lady Jasper’s started their season, they were honored at the Manhattan Madness pep rally for the basketball teams and spirit squads. Despite the news about the men’s head coach and a number of players leaving, it did not affect them because the women are stars on their own.
“We create our own energy and feed off each other’s energy,” said Davis. “We are always at 1,000 if people notice that or not. We had an amazing pregame meal and ceremony with lots of loved ones and family members. In our world, things went as expected. We were absolutely amazed by the love we received. We are absolutely so grateful for the faculty, staff and everyone involved.”
The women’s team really deserved their time in the spotlight and was grateful for earning it.
“It was our time, said Katsamouri. “Yeah, we are friends. We love the Men’s basketball team because we are close, but at the end of the day it is our season. We have so many reasons to celebrate.
The women believe that Madness and their games attract different fans, so the men’s team has nothing to do with them and their season.
“I strictly think our fan base is based on our performances and how people see us on social media,” said Harvey-Carr. “They want to come out and support, not necessarily from the people that come to the men’s games or hear about the circumstances they are in.”