Nickolas Evan Acker
So you guys went to Nationals this year, quite the accomplishment after such a long season.
We had gone to nationals more than once prior in our history, but had never actually won a game down there. We lost in the first round but won our consolation game so that was a first win at a national tournament for the women’s team, so that in itself was a great feat. It was a season tying record for most wins in a season I believe, so obviously any time you can get 20 wins or more thats a pretty good accomplishment. So definitely a very good season in terms of what has been accomplished so far.
Amira Jones earned the YSCC all conference honors this season and is obviously a big impact for the women’s team, but how big of an impact is she both on the floor and off of it for team chemistry and did you know she was going to be a big contributor to the team before the season even began due to her win in High School at the Western Massachusetts Finals with Chicopee High School.
Amira actually when she was at Chicopee was a different type of player. She’s much more dynamic now and will shoot from the outside, obviously she’s a very good rebounder, a great scorer, and very smart about where the ball is going to be. She exceeded expectations, that’s for sure. We wanted her to come in and be a good presence for us underneath, but didn’t know what we were going to get. She’s an undersized post, probably only 5’’7 where our other starting post player is 6’’0, but she definitely plays much bigger. She earned second team conference all honors, she was an All American honorably mention, she’s done some really great things for the team and has been very consistent. She posted twelve double doubles, so definitely getting done on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I think she only didn’t score double figures in maybe seven games this season, so she definitely was a leader on the floor. Off the floor she has a great attitude, very funny, someone all the players really like so she really brings that element of fun you need to maintain team chemistry. It’s a really long season, September when pre-season starts to March when the National Tournament is, so she’s definitely one of those players that keeps fun in the season.
So lets talk about another player, Jordan Turner came first in the conference in assists, what kind of presence on the floor did you see in her at the beginning of the season and do you think she’ll have a larger presence next season if she returns.
Jordan started in the preseason definitely as that player that you’re like: “This kid has great fundamentals, she can see the floor, she has great ball handling skills, she can attack the rim. It was a very solid preseason. In the first semester up until the CMCC away game we played her at the two-guard position, so at a shooting guard position. That was just the position where she really wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t really getting enough touches on the ball. So she didn’t make as big of an impact as she could. After some discussion among the coaching staff we switched her to the point guard position which was probably the best decision we made all season. One of her biggest strengths is she can be anybody’s press, distribute the basketball, and see the floor very well. Putting her at the point guard position gave her the opportunity to do that because the ball was in her hands most of the time. Teams that we struggled against in the past because of their pressure she could sort of beat single handedly, which made that less of a factor. Obviously her seeing the floor as well as she does creates great opportunities for her teammates, which obviously leads to her records and assists. All of those things kind of spur from the fact that she had the ball in her hands a lot more. In big games later in the season she played a lot of good minutes. She’s tough, she’s played hurt, played without breaks when other players get in foul trouble, so she’s really played through some adversity. Next season if she chooses to come back, which right now she’s leaning towards, definitely now she has some experience, we know what position she’s supposed to be in, it isn’t so much a learning curve because we already know what we’re supposed to know. She’ll be more of an impact, obviously we’d like to get her a little more involved in the offense, she gave us what we needed to have this season, but I think if we tap into that a little bit more we can she can give us more on the offensive end next season.
I realize that you want to have a great offense and defense, but would you categorize the team this last season as a more defensively or offensively oriented team?
I would say that we did a good job scoring the basketball, offensively we were pretty good. We averaged roughly seventy-six points a game, we only had two people averaging double figures. We were very offensively well rounded, a lot of people on the team average six points a game, so I’d say that offensive was probably our strength. When people scouted us they couldn’t say “Hey, stop this one kid and you stop the whole team”. It wasn’t like that, we always had someone step up and contribute which was nice. Towards the end of the season we shifted our focus towards defense, we have three very good defenders so we played a lot of face guard type defense probably the last three weeks of the season and the tournament. We had those three players take turns really just focusing on one person, the opponent’s best offensive player, and really try to just get in their head and shut them down. I think that proved extremely affective for us, we did it against CMCC both of the last games we played them, obviously we came out on top which was nice. We did the same thing against St. Joe’s and unfortunately didn’t win, but our mindset switched towards playing some lockdown defense and I think that helped.
So this is your second season as Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball Team. You were 12-3 last season and 12-4 this season in the YSCC, both of which are great records. Do you see this continuing on in the future and do you see them Women’s Team as a strong presence in the playoffs?
I think that based on the core group of returners we’re going to have, and some good recruits we have coming in, we definitely should stay strong. Of course the difference in record came from an increase in the talent of St. Joe’s, so obviously you never know what other teams are going to bring to the table. We’re doing the best we can and definitely have a philosophy of hard work and team chemistry, everyone contributes, and if we can maintain that and get the players to buy in we should be just fine.
Thank you for the interview, congratulations and keep up the good work!
There you go readers, two basketball teams still going strong and feeling competitive. This last season was a great one for SMCC, but I’m really looking forward to what happens next season after interviewing our two head coaches Matt Richards and Julia Howe.