This is, of course, the time of year when, except for one team, the season ends in a loss. It's tough to get over the initial sting of disappointment, but it's easier when you can look back at the body of work that led up to the end. For the women's basketball team, Sunday will be the day at the Women's Basketball Banquet when we can pause, look back at the accomplishments, and thank the team, especially the seniors, for what they've done.
Was it the kind of season Coach Jamelle Elliott would have wanted for her second time around? Well, no. Let's face it, she has had enough trials and tribulations to make the biblical Job feel sorry for her. Injuries have been the constant presence, enough so that for much of the middle of the season, Coach Elliott had only seven healthy players taking the court--and I use the word 'healthy' loosely, since one player (Shareese Ulis) has had chronic knee problems and another (Shelly Bellman) has had way to many knee surgeries. (When Shelly played her final home game with a knee brace AND shoulder brace, I told myself I'd never gripe about my toe hurting again)
But that final home game gave the Cats their first win under Elliott over a Top 20-ranked team. The pure emotion that spilled onto that court after that win was something to behold--like a weight had been lifted off the entire team. It should go down as a landmark turnaround for the program. The way the team played Xavier at the Women's Crosstown Shooutout also was a seminal moment, as the Cats showed that teamwork, hustle and belief in themselves can go a long way.
And, the fabulous freshmen are certainly no longer rookies. Pressed into action, they performed admirably and, more importantly, picked up valuable experience in the BIG EAST that will pay off when they're sophomores, juniors and seniors. They already are so much more experienced than many of the other freshmen in the league, and we'll be reaping the benefits in the future.
So join us Sunday to celebrate the season, and look forward with anticipation to the future. It will be a great time to say thanks to Shareese and Shelly, wish them well, and invite them to come back to campus to see the kind of foundation they've set for this program.