Sunday, March 25, 2018

Preparing for an opponent: An inside look at Fordham women's basketball

By Andy Lipton
Special To Daly Dose Of Hoops

With a third-place finish, 12-4 record in the regular season of the Atlantic 10 Conference, two wins in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, and an overall record of 24-10, the Fordham women’s basketball team gave its faithful a contending team to root for all season. And it was a quite an achievement, as the team was young and the bench was short.

The five players who started most of the season for the Rams were iron women, as redshirt freshman Bre Cavanaugh, freshman Johanna Klug, junior Mary Goulding, junior Lauren Holden, and senior G’mrice Davis averaged 38, 24, 33, 39, and 38 minutes per game, respectively. The first three players off the bench; Kendell Heremaia, Zara Jilliings, and Halei Gillis, were all freshmen, and another four players on the 14-person roster -- one of whom was injured this season -- were freshmen.

Near the end of the regular season, a few days before a road game against Dayton, the then-first-place team and eventual A-10 regular season champion, head coach Stephanie Gaitley graciously allowed me during the course of two days to observe film sessions and team practices, and took the time to explain her team’s process in preparing for an opponent. Having just completed her seventh year as head coach at Fordham, Gaitley has been highly successful in her 32 year-career, with over 600 wins, a .631 winning percentage, and 17 seasons of 20 or more wins.

Coach Gaitley and her staff never stopped teaching and motivating. It was deep in the season, one with significant success, yet it was a lesson in the necessity of repetition and continual improvement on the fundamentals, particularly on team and individual defense.

The following film is a glimpse into how Fordham prepares for an opponent:

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