The Oswego State women’s basketball team wrapped up their 2009-10 campaign with a loss to SUNY Geneseo in the quarterfinal round of the SUNYAC Tournament on Tuesday. The Lakers featured a young, but somewhat experienced group that finished the season 13-13 overall (10-8 SUNYAC).
"We knew we were still going to be relatively young," head coach Tracy Bruno said. "We knew we had a couple seniors that contributed a lot last year."
This opened up new scoring opportunities for the returning Lakers, and they took advantage. Oswego State made the SUNYAC playoffs for the third time in as many years under Bruno. The Lakers sported a balanced scoring attack that featured five players averaging between seven and 13 points per game. Of those players, the Lakers graduate only one, as they return nearly 80 percent of their scoring.
"We don’t lose a lot of scoring," Bruno said. "We do lose some defensive knowledge."
Bruno’s teams have always been very defensive minded as the Lakers held opponents to just 58 points per game on the season. The consistency on the defensive end of the floor has allowed Oswego State to stay in many games. Those games were decided in crunch time.
Oswego State played 11 games that were decided by six points or fewer. In those games they posted 7-4 record. Junior co-captain Traci Bacon attributes that record to each player making a concerted effort to prepare themselves not only physically, but mentally.
"Each individual player brings the passion, energy and determination to win that has helped us to overcome opponents," Bacon said.
"Sometimes you need more than just fundamental skill to push through those tough games."
Bruno points out that a tough early season schedule helped her team to become battle-tested, and ultimately believes it helped them in conference play and down the stretch in close games.
"We knew we were going to be in a lot of close games," Bruno said. "Right off the bat we played a close game with NYU, a close game with Roberts (Wesleyan). That’s a picture of seeing some of our seniors have experience, our younger kids not being afraid. They do a good job of executing down the stretch when something gets drawn up in a timeout. We’re pretty good at making the right reads, making the right play."
Another key to pulling out these nailbiting victories has been the ability to make clutch free throws under pressure.
"We’ve been a little inconsistent at the free throw line, but at winning time we’re pretty consistent at hitting them," Bruno said.
Although the Lakers came up clutch in some games they also struggled at times, losing five games by 15 points or more. Bruno sees this as a struggle in consistency shooting the basketball.
"We go back and look at game film and we get good shots," Bruno noted. "One of the things we’ll be looking to add is a little bit more consistency in shooting in terms of some of the recruits we’re bringing in. A couple kids we’re looking at can really shoot the ball."
The Lakers often look to use a balanced inside and outside game. Junior Colleen McCready and standout sophomore Kayla Ryan anchor the post while Oswego State features three perimeter threats in Bacon, Rachel Kohrs and Kristen Diglio.
"We go inside out and work through our inside," Bruno said. "The more successful you are from the perimeter, the more successful that inside game becomes."
Ryan led the Lakers in scoring at 12.7 points per game, including a breakout game of 33 points against Cazenovia. Bruno noticed a big improvement in Ryan’s outside game, and the continued improvement in that area will only help Oswego State moving forward.
"She does the little things each game that you will not see on the box score," Bacon said.
The Lakers lose seniors Kohrs and Tricia Sullivan to graduation this spring, but return a very experienced lineup next season that will include six seniors, a junior and four sophomores with much more experience. Add in a few sharp-shooters that Bruno is recruiting and Lakers look to be a well-balanced team next season.