After hosting the WVIAC/PSAC Challenge the Fairmont State women's basketball team is off to a 1-1 start in the 2012-2013 season. On Friday, FSU beat Clarion 70-68. On Saturday, the Lady Falcons fell to Indiana (Pa.) 50-47.
When the Lady Falcons begin to play conference opponents, the WVIAC coaches think it will be a good season for FSU. The Lady Falcons were picked first in the Preseason Coaches Poll.
"Well I think anytime you're picked first, you must have good players and we think we have good players," commented FSU Head Coach Steve McDonald. "So it gives you an opportunity to have a good season because you do have good players not because you're picked first. Ultimately where you're picked doesn't matter but it does help in recruiting and I know we're getting ready to sign a couple of young ladies here next week and I think that using being picked first had a little bit of an impression on them so from that standpoint I was very excited that we were picked to win the league."
There is reason to believe it will be a good year for Fairmont. The Lady Falcons return all five starters, three of which are seniors. Of course there's also Kaitlin Snyder, the reigning WVIAC Player of the Year.
"I don't know, I've kind of let the whole awards and WVIAC player of the year, kind of let go," said Snyder. "It's a new season. Hopefully I can learn from the previous years and build on it. I feel like we've gotten a lot better as a team so even though I might have gotten that, it doesn't matter. Each season is a new season. That's kind of the attitude I've been trying to take."
The top spot in the preseason is a coveted spot. After finishing fifth in the conference last year Coach Mac said he thought his team would get the nod this year but Snyder said she was a bit surprised at this year's preseason ranking.
"That gives us more confidence in each other and that leads us to wanting to win more. I feel like ultimately we're in a great position. I feel like that's where we should be and hopefully we can maintain that throughout the season."
Snyder said the Lady Falcons are making progress every day and after the first two games, the team learned that each possession is important. Fairmont won by a possession against Clarion and lost by one possession to IUP in the WVIAC/PSAC Challenge. Free throws were a big problem in the loss and taking care of the ball was an issue. Still, this is a team that has the potential to have a great season and now understands what it needs to do to win.
"I think we came out with a lot of energy. We're more experienced this year so I feel like we have a lot more team chemistry and that helped us, especially in the win on Friday and then Saturday we just got really unlucky."
Coach Mac said that over the first two games he saw his team progress and mature and as coaches, his staff now understands more how to coach the team. It's nice to have five returning starters, especially a point guard the caliber of Snyder, but Coach Mac said every year is a new year, even with the top five players back. An experienced squad means they'll handle high and lows better but FSU still need to be more consistent.
Coach Mac said he felt better about the loss to IUP than the win over Clarion because IUP is a very good team and by making it a close game the Lady Falcons proved that when they compete, they can play with anyone.
"Basketball season are a marathon, they're not a sprint. We try to look at it that way and try to be a little bit cerebral about a loss as opposed to just upset because you lost. So, we're trying to look at it, literally, one day at a time right now and not particularly worry about what the season is going to look like."