What does Rider women’s basketball want for the holidays?
By Dylan Manfre
Everyone has a wishlist of presents they want for the holidays. Some people might respond with “I don’t know,” when a relative or friend asks what they want for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.
For the women’s basketball team, there are some obvious items that should be on their list and no matter who gives it to them, it probably will not be re-gifted.
- Negative COVID-19 tests
This one is pretty obvious given the situation Rider is in right now. This was originally on the made-up list as “no positive COVID tests,” because, well, nobody had tested positive so far this season — and nobody wants to test positive. However, when multiple positives popped up among the team on Dec. 21, a negative COVID-19 test is desperately what this team needs.
The Broncs are already injured and do not have the same depth they started the season with. Also, the players have enough to worry about and potentially giving their families a deadly and highly contagious variant of the virus that has killed over 800,000 people has to be stressful.
- For the injury bug to get the heck away
No amount of cleaning product, disinfectant, sanitizer, etc. will make this bug go away. It attaches to various sections of the body and stays for quite a while. Rider had six injured players heading into winter break and two of them were starters at the beginning of the season in senior guard Amanda Mobley and junior guard Maya Hyacienth.
Head Coach Lynn Milligan said Hyacienth is one of the team’s best on-ball defenders and Mobley is one of the leaders of the team as a senior. She is still in the huddle talking during timeouts about the action but Rider would bode well with having her on the court.
- WINS WINS WINS
Multiple players have expressed there were definitely some games they would like to get back if they could. Unfortunately, this is not the multiverse from ‘Spider-Man No Way Home’ and Dr. Stephen Strange cannot turn back time so Rider can defeat a team like St. Francis Brooklyn or complete the upset over Quinnipiac, who the Broncs lost to 64-60 on Dec. 18.
Freshman forward Emily Strunk said in a December interview one game she would like to get back was against Wagner, where the team scored eight points in the first quarter and had to mount a double-digit comeback.
“There’s so many games I wish we could go back to and just start over … I think we could be 8-0 right now,” Strunk said.
The Broncs will likely have this wish come true in conference play as they already got a win over Siena but that’s the beauty of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. And at the beginning of the season, Milligan said this might be the most intense MAAC slate yet.
“I say it all the time, the MAAC is a really underrated conference,” Milligan said after the TCNJ scrimmage on Nov. 3. “This year … it might be one of the most competitive years we have. … I think the conference is going to be exceptionally well.”
- An offensive rebound would be nice on the statsheet
The biggest struggle of the Broncs to date has been rebounding in general, but specifically on the offensive glass. Rider is known for giving away plenty of second-chance points. Many of the rebounds go to sophomore forward Raphaela Toussaint who leads the team with 7.8 boards per game. Second on the team, surprisingly, is sophomore guard Makayla Firebaugh.
Toussaint and junior forward Victoria Toomey are the only players with more than 10 offensive rebounds on the year. Now that Toomey was swapped in the starting lineup for junior forward Anna Ekerstedt, Milligan is hopeful she can help in that area. She has also been playing Strunk for around 11 minutes per game and when she is on the court, Milligan has encouraged her to strive to get rebounds. After all, that is a part of the job description when you are 6-foot-2.
Rider needs to make offensive rebounds a priority in the new year. But this holiday season, rebounds are a gift that might take a little time to manifest. They have the pieces to tinker with the toy, they need to look at the instructions and put it together. At least it is not like opening an I-O-U note.
Rider’s last game of 2021 and the first game of 2022 are likely canceled due to the team’s quarantine but it has not been officially announced by the University. The first game Rider could play in post-quarantine is on Jan. 6 against Manhattan College in the Bronx.