Last year’s 7-22 record is in the past and the Lady Commodores are determined to prepare for next season by training seven months before their first game. Head coach Vince Granito has given his players weight-lifting programs to gain strength and has had open gym sessions scheduled since the beginning of April. He is also strategically finding ways to fix their lapses on both sides of the floor.
Out of 82 teams in Division III women’s basketball, the Commodores averaged 66.1 points per game and were ranked 25th according to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) website. They were able to rack up points because they went to the free-throw line a lot, averaging 20.9 free-throw attempts per game and were ranked ninth. They took advantage of those opportunities, shooting 67.7 percent from the line, ranking 11th out of Division III women’s basketball.
The Commodores took advantage of a new rule change: if a team is fouled five times in a half, they automatically go to the free-throw line. “One of the thing we have to do is attack the basket,” Granito said. “A lot of our offense was predicated on them driving to the basket and getting fouled.” Granito also alluded that it was a big emphasis last year, and they plan on doing it next year.
The Commodore’s leading scorer, Onyx Lopez, will not be returning next year, and the team has to find a way to pick up the scoring slack in her absence. She was one of four players that averaged more than 10 points per game, Granito said. The other three were freshmen, Granito said, and he is confident that they, along with others, will step up in the scoring department.
The Commodores defensively allowed 76.6 points per game, ranking 80th out 82 teams. Teams that they faced also had high field-goal and 3-point percentages last season. “Teams shot extremely well from the 3-point line against us,” Granito said, adding that was their biggest flaw defensively. This offseason they are going to focus on closing-out and running teams off the 3-point line, forcing them to go inside, Granito said.
Depth on the bench is another problem that the team experienced last season, and coach Granito is on the hunt for new talent. He says that there were too many games when they had six, or seven players and he wants to have a “solid” group of 11 to 12 players to help them in the long run. He has been attending a lot of high school all-star games to find players and has found girls that are interested from places like Midview and Wellington.