This season will mark Kelly Cole’s second as head coach of the Northeastern University women’s basketball program.
Despite last year’s 4-25 record, the Huskies were competitive in Cole’s first season at the helm. Of their 29 games, eight were decided by three points or fewer, including a one-point win over Boston University.
This year’s squad is led by seniors Samantha DeFreese, a forward named to the 2015-16 Preseason All-CAA Second Team; Tiffany Montagne, a guard who averaged 12 points per game last year; and Kazzidy Stewart, another guard who placed second on last year’s team in free throw percentage at 84 percent.
The Huskies will open the 2015-16 season on Friday at noon against rival Boston University at Case Gym. Northeastern’s home opener is slated for Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m., against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
We sat down with Cole, DeFreese, and Montagne to discuss the upcoming season and how the team plans to improve on last year’s results.
How is the team approaching this upcoming season?
DeFreese: We’ve talked a lot about not being overwhelmed by expectations and also growing into the team we want to be. Coach is really emphasizing bringing our “A game” every day and working hard.
Cole: With the infusion of so many new faces this year, I think the start of this season has a different feel to it than last year. With the freshman group, the addition of (sophomore transfer) Claudia Ortiz, and having Tiffany back (from injury), that’s six new faces out of 12. And I think that’s an exciting infusion of energy and confidence.
As one of the three senior leaders of this team, what do you see as your responsibilities?
Montagne: Two points I want to emphasize to my teammates are consistency and focus. If all three of us seniors do that on a daily basis, then we can guide the rest of the team into the direction we want to go.
The team lost many close games last season. What will it take for you to be on the winning side this season?
DeFreese: Consistency was something we definitely lacked last year, and you could see that in our games. That’ll be the big difference this year. We have a lot of players who work hard every day, and as a team this is probably the most consistent we’ve been in a long time.
Cole: The exciting part is that during a transition year we did enough things right and had enough talent to be competitive in almost every game. And if we go out and do all the things we are capable of doing, we are going to win a lot more games.
What will it take to beat Boston University?
Montagne: Staying humble. BU is a rival team, and we are very excited to get the season started. But as long as we keep our composure and stay true to the keys coach has set for us, a win is definitely realistic.
DeFreese: Remaining fundamental. At the end of the day it is going to come down to scores and stops.