The Maroons (9–7, 3–2 UAA) have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. The team has dropped over 80 points in each of its past four games, winning three straight, and looks to continue this string of exceptional performances to climb the UAA standings and send a message to its conference opposition with upcoming road games against Emory (14–2, 3–2) tonight and Rochester (7–9, 1–4).
Today’s game against Emory promises to be very tightly contested. While the Eagles are currently No. 17 in the NCAA DIII rankings, they have lost two consecutive games to Brandeis and NYU, and if the Maroons have their way today Chicago will surpass them for third in the UAA standings. To do this, it’ll need to find a way to shut down Emory’s offense, led by fourth-year point guard Savannah Morgan with 14.5 points per game, and ensure that it maintains ball control and makes the most of its offensive possessions, as the Eagles have averaged over 14 steals per game. Overall, it looks to be an entertaining spectacle and a challenge the Maroons will relish.
Rochester currently resides at the bottom of the UAA standings, but this is potentially a misleading statistic. Although the Maroons have had their fair share of close victories themselves, the Yellowjackets have lost five games by a margin of five or fewer points and are 5–2 at home this season. Look for the Maroons to double-team top-scoring third-year guard Ally Zywicki and force other Yellowjackets to step up, and use their guard play and rapid transition offense to create opportunities at the other end.
While each conference game brings with it varying degrees of strategic, physical, and mental challenges, the team appears to be taking each conference tilt at a time. Head coach Carissa Sain Knoche believes that if the team can work on improving its collective play during practices, the results will take care of themselves irrespective of the opponent.
“We continue to work on getting better as a team in practice. With each game we have an opportunity to show our improvement and this weekend I thought we definitely did. The focus is on us, more so than on the opponent,” Sain Knoche said.
Some players, such as fourth-year guard Maggie Ely, believe that the conference schedule allows players on different teams to rekindle the flames of competition from previous matchups.
“Conference games are always a great test for a team’s endurance and intensity; over the years of playing in the UAA you learn how specific players and teams operate, and I’m a true believer that conference games let great players and teams shine. Rivalries run deep in conference play, and these games are so fun [for] us,” Ely said.
Ely went on to emphasize the holistic nature of how the team has bonded this season.
“Each girl on our roster brings a different perspective to the team, on and off the court. I’m so proud of the team, [be it third-year guard] Claire [Devaney]’s consistency, [second-year guard]Paige [Womack]’s spark, or [first-year forward] Britta [Nordstrom]’s willingness to compete at a level beyond her collegiate experience. It would be foolish of me to try and pinpoint one player who has been more valuable than the next in regards to our success.”
Certainly, Chicago is optimistic that these combined attitudes and outlooks will provide important wins for seasons to come, and be vital down the stretch of its current one.
Tip-off is at 5 p.m. tonight in Atlanta, and tip-off on Sunday is at 1 p.m. in upstate New York.