NORTH ADAMS -- There isn’t much the MCLA women’s basketball team cares to remember about last season.
The Trailblazers are looking for a fresh start, but haven’t forgotten about last year, however, and have chosen to use it as motivation.
"I think the first thing is a different mindset," coach Holly McGovern said. "We had to redevelop our program, and we’ve been working very intently since September to create different expectations for our team."
An 0-12 conference mark a year ago could suggest those expectations have dropped significantly, but that would be wrong.
It’s clear losing and mediocrity haven’t been and won’t be accepted.
"We have to get back into that 1, 2, 3 mode where we’re vying for at least a home seed," McGovern said. "The bye would be nice, but the home seed would be a little bit better for us."
It won’t be a walk in the park to get there. The Trailblazers were picked to finish last in the MASCAC and are a young and inexperienced group.
MCLA has seven freshmen, including former Pittsfield standout Courtney McLaughlin, on the team of 13. Factor in a trio of sophomores, including former Wahconah star Sara Hamilton, who got a medical redshirt after injuring her knee last year. Nearly 77 percent of the roster is underclassmen.
"A lot of new faces," Hamilton said. "I think the biggest thing is just to help everyone grow and learn and just to constantly move forward and never to look backward."
McGovern said the freshmen will need to make an impact and they’ll have space to grow. It seems they’ll see the floor plenty, meaning it’s a learn-on-the-go proposition.
McLaughlin said learning to play with new players has been the toughest part of making the jump to the college ranks. She’s likely not alone, and one of the toughest accomplishments for a team dominated by newcomers often times is cohesiveness.
"I’m looking forward to the chemistry developing on our team into something that’s going to be successful for us," said senior Kaitlyn Chenevert, who expects to win. "I think we have a really good team this year, and we have the potential to be really great."
Before MCLA reaches its full potential this season, there will likely be some growing pains. It’s to be expected, especially with some of the non-conference teams it plays the first few weeks. Notable opponents include Williams, Utica and St. Joseph (Conn.).
The fact the Trailblazers realize it won’t all be good news is a positive.
"I think the big thing for us is keeping a positive attitude throughout the whole year," said Danielle Scolpino, the team’s other senior. "Whatever happens, we just need to learn from our mistakes and grow from them."
The Trailblazers open their season today on the road against Endicott at the Keene State Invitational, where they’ll play back-to-back days. MCLA then comes home for its season opener Nov. 21 against Western New England.
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