Dee Dee Davis (1), Emily LaPointe (11), and Anne Bair (2) take the court against the Siena Saints. @NCAAMARCHMADNESS(TWITTER)/ COURTESY
By: Maddie Mulkigian, Senior Writer
After an upset win against the current second seed Siena, the Manhattan College Women’s Basketball team remains stuck at the bottom of the MAAC rankings as they approach the second half of their season. While the Lady J’s can’t seem to set their footing during MAAC conference play, the team is motivated to use a chip on their shoulder to determine what the outcome of their season will be.
“Flat out, we’re all competitors,” head coach Heather Vulin said. “Nobody’s happy to be in any place besides one. It is what it is. It’s unfortunate that we are placed where we are right now. As I’ve said, in many interviews before, the best thing about this game is that there are opportunities, upon opportunities upon opportunities, we will have a chance to, you know, rise in the ranks.”
While the eighth-place standing is looming in the distance as the Jaspers approach the second half of MAAC play, the win against Siena was the best chance that the team has had in proving their skill and ability to the rest of the conference.
“That was sort of a statement game for us,” Dee Dee Davis said. “Going into that game Siena was, I think the number one team in our conference, they were tremendous on the offensive rebounding category, rebounding in general senior. We were firing on all cylinders. So it was really nice to put it all together for 40 minutes and sort of send a message to everyone else saying, you know, what those rankings mean? Nothing. But on a good day, this is how good we can be.”
While the team has maintained a positive attitude through the devastating losses they’ve faced, they are not ignoring the basketball tactics that they need to improve on.
“An issue we’ve had this year is just valuing the basketball,” Vulin said. “I really feel a number of our losses could have been wins if we had done a better job of valuing the basketball. I think that’s something that we’ve been getting better with every game. I think we definitely have the talent and the framework to win back games and compete for a championship. But it comes down to execution.”
Coach Vulin and the rest of the team are looking to take the momentum that the Siena game provided them with and apply it to the problems that are evident on the court in the losses that they’ve faced. However, some of these issues are out of the team’s control.
“One of the things that I’m really proud about this group is we’ve had a lot of adversity with some injuries this year,” Vulin said. “I’ve been holding them accountable to not blame the injuries, but even with those injuries, we still need to find a way to win. It just means a lot to me, you know, seeing that they understand that and that we’re going to figure out how to, you know, win these games with whatever people are eligible to play.”
Despite the number of injuries that the Jaspers faced so far this season, Davis has remained a consistent performer on the court and there was no stopping her against Siena. She scored a career-high 37 points in her 35 minutes of play, which led to her earning both titles of MAAC Player of the Week and Metropolitan Player of the Week. When it comes down to the moments that the Lady J’s need her most, Davis is always ready to step up to the plate.
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel any pressure at all, at any point during this season,” Davis said. “But in a way, I’m trying to shift my mindset to believe that it’s good pressure. It’s respect, you know, people believe in me, and I’m very, very happy to be in a position and a part of a program that believes in me so much that they want me to do well. I would say, you know, I do feel somewhat pressure, but at the end of the day, it’s for good reasons. And I’m very, very grateful and appreciative to feel the pressure that I do.”
With Davis putting up personal records and sweeping every individual title in the Tri-State area this past week, it is clear that she and the rest of the Jaspers are not satisfied with their season just yet. If the team can display a performance as they did against Siena, the MAAC is going to have a lot to worry about when it comes time for playoffs. Even with the team currently in eighth place, Jasper fans should remain excited about what’s to come in the second half of the 2022-2023 season.
“In the end, your ranking doesn’t matter at the championship game, and you’re still going to play a good opponent,” senior Jade Blagrove said. “So you just have to be able to beat everybody. We need to play with a chip on our shoulders. You need to be ready to beat everybody because other teams are also ready to beat us and we’ve just got to prove that we’re better.”