The Loyola women’s basketball team is off to a slow start this season. The Ramblers started off 1-6 and the offense hasn’t been producing much.
The team brought in five first-years to play alongside six returning players. Head coach Kate Achter said she hoped these players would bring a new level of intensity to the program. But while many of the first-years have started games and have contributed on offense, the team can’t win.
“We have six kids on our team that don’t know how to go and practice at a high level yet,” Achter said. “So you get in a game and you ask them to make game-level shots and they haven’t practiced at that level yet.”
Achter said practicing hard and stressing the expectations of the team will help build up the offense. But without being able to practice at a high level and build up the game winning moves needed to win, the offense will continue to lag.
“We can’t practice at a high level because we don’t have the experience to drive that in practice,” Achter said. “So it’s not like we aren’t getting good shots; we’re getting great shots. We just can’t make any because we aren’t practicing hard enough.”
The youth of the roster brings down the level of experience in the locker room, but even the returners are having trouble producing.
“With the returners we have, they don’t know what it means to practice at a high level either [because] they won two games last year,” Achter said.
Achter said the struggle the team faces is pushing its current players to practice harder. Having these players build up their level of play can help build future players. She said to correct this she has to push the players to be better in practice.
“When we add each new recruiting class, I want them to drive the level of practice,” Achter said. “Our returners aren’t doing a very good job of that right now.”
While Achter blamed the level of play for their sluggish offense, first-year guard Abby O’Connor blamed the team’s inexperience.
“We have a lot of young people, including myself,” O’Connor said. “Adjusting to the speed of a college game and how fast the defense is moving is definitely something that’s affected me and a lot of the rest of us.”
Redshirt senior Jessica Cerda agreed on some points, saying the team is still trying to figure each other out. Cerda said having six new people on a team is going to cause a shift and adjustments are needed to figure out chemistry.
“This is the first time that a lot of us are playing college basketball,” Cerda said. “It’s getting the adjustment from [the first-years] plus the experience and integrating that to be able to play together and find a common ground to really let the offense flow.”
In addition to still working on finding chemistry, the competition is putting the pressure on the Ramblers. The team lost 92-30 to Marquette University, who was No. 23 in the country when they played the Ramblers, and lost 88-47 to DePaul University, who won a game in the NCAA tournament last season.
“A lot of the teams we have been facing have been pretty experienced teams,” O’Connor said.
Cerda said she believed the lack of offense to be more of an inside problem.
“It’s a big factor and aside from teams we play, we have to figure it out within ourselves and within our own offensive flow in order for that to translate into games. No matter who we play,” Cerda said.
Cerda said The Ramblers aren’t worried even though they keep losing.
“We definitely have a lot of talent on the team,” Cerda said. “It’s just trying to mesh everything together and that will translate to wins.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to play 10 games over winter break. Their first game of the spring semester is scheduled for Jan. 19 against Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.