Last season, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team finished with a 7-24 record overall and a 3-13 record in conference. This year, they have a new coach, but things are not shaping up much better than they did last season. With one more game left before conference play begins, the Anteaters sit at 3-9 and are living up to their preseason ranking of 8th in the conference.
“[It’s] probably appropriate,” Head Coach Molly Goodenbour said. “It reflects the season they had last year, but, to be honest, I don’t pay much attention to preseason rankings on the whole.”
The Anteaters record can be pinned on an offense that is struggling to score. So far, they have only 629 points against opponents who have scored a combined 824 points against the Anteaters. The Anteaters average 52.4 points per game, while giving up and average of 68.7 points per game.
“There’s definitely room to improve,” senior guard Kirian Ishizaki said. “By the time conference comes along, we will be at a higher level than we are now.”
But to bring the Anteaters season down to the level of pure statistics would not be fair. The Anteaters have had to struggle through several obstacles this season, one of which is the transition from one coach to another.
“I think they are doing the best they can,” Goodenbour said. “This whole year has been a very dramatic change from the past. I think this first year is just a year of transition for all of us.”
The Anteaters have also been plagued by injuries and are only just starting to get some of their players back. Injuries not only affect who Coach Goodenbour can put on the court each night, but they also affect what the Anteaters are able to do offensively and defensively.
“We don’t have a lot of depth right now,” Goodenbour said. “We just got a couple of our players eligible and we are just trying to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Also, according to Goodenbour, the Anteaters have had a tough non[[-]]conference schedule. When coupled with their other problems, it isn’t hard to see why the Anteaters have struggled so far.
“I think we have had a pretty rigorous non-conference schedule, and your schedule has a tremendous effect on your wins and losses, so we are just trying to get through this non-conference season,” Goodenbour said.
According to senior forward Kelly Cochran, the Anteaters do have a significant strength: They get along really well on and off the court. While this may not seem as important as skill on offense and defense, it is perhaps more important than either one. Without good chemistry, the team will not flow on the court and its opponents will be able to isolate individual players.
“We just know each other pretty well, and when you know each other it makes the offense flow better,” Cochran said.
Though it is undoubtedly important, good team chemistry still cannot entirely make up for a lack of good, and consistently good, play. What the Anteaters need most of all, according to Goodenbour, is more practice.
“We continue to teach every day in practice, and hopefully, after day after day after day of practice and of keeping our expectations the same we will see some improvement,” Goodenbour said.
Coach Goodenbour hopes that practice will, besides improving the team’s play overall, make them play well more consistently. She believes that when her team is on their game, they have the potential to be unstoppable.
“When we play the way we are capable of playing, I think we can beat anybody,” Goodenbour said. “But on the flipside, I think we can get beaten by anybody.”