With a completely new coaching staff, the women’s basketball team hopes to make vast changes this upcoming
“I hope to prepare this team to the best of their abilities and to compete on a daily basis,” said new Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “We always talk about practices being harder than games and preparing ourselves in practice so
when game day comes we’re prepared for anything that anybody throws at us. My expectations are to make sure that this team is ready mentally and physically to compete on a daily basis.”
With 15 years of college coaching experience, Milligan hopes to improve Rider’s team by building its competitive edge each day.
Milligan is on a mission to bring this program back to respectability after it struggled the past few years.
“On a daily basis, we need to improve on everything,” she said. “There’s not one thing that I think we can say, ‘We’re good at that and don’t have to worry about that anymore.’ Every day we want to work on our offense, our defense, the mental part of the game, the physical part of the game, the conditioning and being challenged to reach our goals on a daily basis.”
Assistant coaches Pam Durkin, Rashana Barnes and John Miller were also signed during the off-season.
Along with the new coaching staff, Rider is welcoming three newcomers to the team.
“The freshmen are adjusting very well,” said Milligan. “We have two freshmen, Cintella Spotwood [guard] and Shannon Ferguson [forward], as well as Tammy Meyers [guard/forward] who appeared last year but didn’t play. She was sitting out for a transfer, so she’ll be eligible to play this year.
“The three of them have blended in extremely well. All three of them are hard workers, have taken to the upper classmen, the upper classmen have taken to them and it’s been a very good mix.”
The Broncs are returning with 11 letter winners from last season.
“I think that the overall team strength is that they are a tight group that works hard together and they care about each other,” Milligan said. “When that happens I think a lot of the other stuff takes care of itself. We have a lot of talented returning players that have been around that are ready for things to change and are working hard for that to happen. We have some newcomers also that I think are going to be a good mix.”
The captains for Rider will be junior forward Shaunice Parker, senior guard Kelli Sawyer and senior guard Janele Henderson, who averaged 10.5 points per game last season.
“We’re going to look toward our senior leadership, obviously our captains Janele and Kelli, who have done an outstanding job leading the team on and off the court since I’ve been here,” said Milligan. “Shaunice Parker is also another captain, so we’ll look to Shaunice to step up and have a big year and continue her success.”
The team finished 2-28 overall and 1-11 in the MAAC last season, finishing as the 10th seed in the conference. In the pre-season polls, the Broncs are estimated to take last place again for the year.
“From top to bottom the conference is really solid, and it’s a mid-major conference and everybody is reaching for the top, and we’ll be no different,” said Milligan. “We were picked 10th, and that’s kind of where we expected to be, but pre-season polls are where you start, and where you finish is two different things. We’ll worry more of the numbers at the end of the season.”
Rider will open its conference schedule against Canisius on Dec. 7, as well as being scheduled to appear on TV against MAAC rival Siena on Feb. 29.
“I think that the Rider community as a whole, if we could get the support for our kids, would love to have everyone come out to the games and support them,” Milligan said. “A lot of times, a lot of people don’t realize how hard these kids work, and to have some fan base from the student body to come support our team would be great. The excitement we had at Midnight MAACness, if that could carry over, along with the excitement that the men’s team is going to generate this year is going to be terrific. If we could tag along with that, we would be very happy.”
The Broncs will kick off their season on Nov. 9 with a home game against Monmouth.