Coming off a sub-par season can be hard for players and coaches alike. But sometimes it can create an opportunity to better the team in the offseason.
That’s exactly what coach Cindy Stein and the women’s basketball team hope to accomplish.
One of Stein’s first moves after being hired as head coach for the women’s basketball team was demanding that each of the players learn the Saluki fight song. She hopes this tactic will instill school pride in her players.
“It’s all about school pride,” Stein said. “I mean we wear Southern Illinois Salukis on our chest every game, every practice. We are representatives of our university and we should know it.”
Stein said she wants the players to sing the fight song after every home game, and hopes the pride will encourage fans to rally along with the team to help increase the team’s fan base. She expects attendance at the beginning of the season to be low, but hopes it will grow as the season progresses.
Stein is not only focusing on team pride and school spirit, but on leadership. When a player does something right, such as helping a teammate during conditioning, they earn leadership points.
Points can be earned in multiple ways. Stein has started a competition among the players with the point system.
Each player is evaluated after practices and workouts, and the player with the most points gets to wear a superman shirt during practice. Junior guard Cartaesha Macklin said the players enjoy the competition and think Stein’s tactics of making the players gain pride will bring them closer as a team.
Junior guard Mercedes Griffin said it has already gotten pretty competitive among the players.
“Everybody is looking forward to trying to wear it,” she said.
The players and coaches are behind each other every step of the way, and are becoming a unit quickly under a new system.
“I think it’s exciting that she really believes in this school and is behind us on that,” senior forward Jordyn Courier said.
The team’s goals for the season are simple. They want to get better, and they want to win as many games as they can. Stein plans to make the team better by working on basketball fundamentals.
“You take care of the ball, you make free throws, you make layups, and you play defense,” Stein said.
The players agree that Stein has a sense of humor, but said that she is still primarily focused on driving the players to the best of their ability.
“She’s awesome, she’s definitely going to challenge you in every way possible, mentally, physically and emotionally,” Macklin said. “She’s very strict and very disciplined, but she also has a sense of humor.”
The new season for Saluki women’s basketball begins Nov. 15, in a home game against the University of Central Arkansas.