Saturday, October 16, 2021

Womens basketball excited to start season

October 10, 2000

MSU’s new head coach Joanne McCallie can easily pinpoint what a successful women’s basketball season would include this year.

“I want to see if we can all draw the most we can out of each other and see everyone improve,” she said. “I also want to see us reach the community, see if we can get them to understand what our journey is.”

But don’t let her simple goal fool you. Coach McCallie is also championship driven.

After eight years coaching at Maine, where she had 167 wins and six NCAA tournament berths, McCallie said she is prepared, excited and determined to lead the Spartans in similar directions.

“Our goals are to win championships,” she said. “We might not be picked to do anything substantial, but that’s how we’re going to work in every practice.”

Though it would seem with five returning seniors, including star forward Becky Cummings who averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last year, it would be tough for a new coaching staff to take over, McCallie said it has been a smooth and rewarding transition.

“I have to give them a lot of credit, because from day one, they have been adapting and adjusting,” she said. “I don’t feel like we had any delay with like, a month of attitude problems or something. We’re just trying to push them beyond their limits.”

Leadership on the team should come from Cummings, along with junior captain and forward Abby Salscheider and sophomore captain and guard Vnemina Reese, McCallie said.

“I expect a lot from Becky,” she said. “Everyone must play their role, and I know a lot of people are going to look to Becky. But I also expect others to step up, and if Becky’s numbers are down, it should be because others’ numbers are up.”

Cummings said she is ready to take on that role.

“I’m really set out to win some championship,” she said. “There are a lot of people on the team who have never been to a tournament before, and so that’s my main goal.”

The lady cagers have a tough schedule this season, facing Big Ten powerhouses Purdue and Penn State twice and NCAA Tournament teams Tennessee Tech and Boston College. They will also play Central Michigan in Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena, the site of the 2001 Big Ten Tournament.

Hopefully, the team can raise spirit for women’s basketball in the community to fill the seats in the Breslin Student Events Center, McCallie said. Last year the team went 13-1 in the Breslin.

Reese said the team is trying to make itself heard in the community to get more people in the stands.

“The crowds bring energy,” she said. “We’d love to play in front of ten thousand people. It makes it just that much more special.”

The Spartans also have first year assistants in associate head coach Katie Abrahamson and assistant coaches Felisha Legette-Jack and Janel Grimm.

Grimm, who came from Maine with McCallie, said the women are already on their way to success.

“As long as they give a championship level performance every day, they are successful,” she said.

The ladies will take the court for their first practice at midnight Saturday during “The Main Event,” at the Breslin Student Events Center.

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