This blog entry is from women's basketball announcer Mark Liptak...enjoy.
It sure was an interesting and unexpected season wasn’t it fans?
The 2009-2010 Bengal women’s basketball season was like a wild ride at Six Flags. It had twists and turns, climbed hills and shot into valleys. It provided dramatic moments that we’ll remember for a long time and ultimately ended much too soon.
But what a ride it was while it lasted.
This team played a brutal non-conference schedule. It had six freshmen play major minutes. It had to overcome injuries as well as the difficulties that being in Pocatello cause from a travel standpoint. It had to play, at times, back to back Friday-Saturday conference games. It even had to overcome a “locker room” set up right next to a swimming pool. (I’m not joking!)
Yet when all was said and done, they had a winning regular season, increasing their win total by four from the previous year. They won ten conference games, upping that mark by three from the previous season and they finished in a tie for second place. They made the conference postseason tournament again for the second time under the current coaching staff and seventh time overall, a school record. No one and I mean no one, was predicting that when this club got ready to take the floor at St. Mary’s to open the year.
Seton Sobolewski and his staff guided this club through the growing pains and the uncertainties that all young clubs face. The players accepted that guidance, and learned their lessons well. The foundation has been set which will lead to a lot more success at a higher level in future years.
This team took the up’s and down’s in stride…they took it with a smile, a laugh, sometimes a tear but they took it.
To me it’s hard to point to one moment, one highlight, or one event when I think back on the season… there were a lot to choose from.
Ashleigh Vella’s put-back shot at the buzzer to beat Utah State and start the team on a run where they won eight of 10 comes to mind. The blow out win over Great Falls where little used players like Kari Green and Rayneiqua Edwards scored their first collegiate baskets is remembered. How do you not include Oana Iacovita destroying Montana State with 31 points to open up conference play and start her down the path that would lead to a first team all conference selection or Andrea Videbeck, not once but twice, going 10 for 10 down the stretch from the free throw line to sink Weber State and Portland State? Do we overlook Morgan Wohltman coming off the bench and drilling a game tying three with time running out to tie Sacramento State and give ISU a chance to win in overtime and stretch a winning streak to six in a row?
It’s not a stretch to say that every single active player on the roster this year can look at themselves in the mirror and say “I helped, I made a contribution to the success we had. I wasn’t just along for the ride.”
It was that team spirit, that drive to excel, that caused Iacovita to jump up and down on the court and then throw herself into Vella’s arms after a win against the Hornets of Sacramento State. At the same time Chelsea Pickering, with an expression of pure unadulterated joy was running to chest bump with Videbeck. Winning mattered to this team; they “got it.” They figured out what they had to do, when they had to do it, to get wins. Sometimes, like my partner Brad Bugger said, it was “winning ugly,” but it was a win and winning is beautiful.
Next season will be another challenge. Expectations will be higher- yet this team will be even younger. They’ll have six sophomores and at least four freshmen on the roster next year. They lose Iacovita, a definite low post scoring threat. They lose Videbeck, one of the top point guards in the league. The question will be, can the returning players raise their game to a higher ground and take the next step? It will not be easy but does anyone doubt that they can do it?
Fans you’ll want to be a part of this. Jump on this bandwagon sooner rather than later…this coaching staff, these players, is going to make you proud and you’ll want to say that you were there when it was really starting up.
One final note on next season’s recruiting class. As of this writing Seton has three signees and a fourth who just made an oral commitment. I’ve met three of the players and I can tell you, they are big, they are strong and they appear to be young women of great character. There are still a few scholarship openings and Seton and the staff are continuing to look for more individuals who are willing to make the sacrifices needed to win.
This is a team, a program, on the rise.
It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to broadcast the games. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoy bringing them to you. Have a safe and wonderful off season and I hope we’ll get together again next November when they throw the ball up on the 2010-2011 campaign.