After finishing with a 77-67 loss to Bentley in the second round of the playoffs, the Lady Knights look to use the end of last season as a stepping stone to grow as a team and make it further into the playoffs this time around.
The Knights have come out of the gate strong in the first quarter of this season posting a record of 7-1.
The team continues to be lead by the imposing duo of Madison and Mackenzie Rowland. While Madison leads the conference in steals per game, Mackenzie is fourth in blocks per game. Both Rowland sisters are in the Top 5 in points, rebounds per game and field goal percentage.
Mackenzie Rowland’s strong start to the season, including posting three double-doubles, head coach Elizabeth Naumovski has a lot of confidence in her senior center.
“I really believe she’s the best post player in the East region — I think she’s one of the best post players in the country,” Naumovski said. “She’s a huge impact for us and she’s a senior so she leads us on and off the floor. Every offense that we have has her built into it someway and she has rebounded really well for us this year; she is, in some way, the centerpiece of what we do. She’s critical to our success.”
Even with the Rowland sisters dominating play, the first month of the season has revealed another gem on the team whose play has not surprised the coaching staff. Freshman guard Beth Bonin is third on the team in scoring and leads the team in three-point percentage.
In her college debut she scored 28 points and made 6 of 9 three-point attempts. Coach Naumovski is not surprised by Bonin’s play.
“We recruited Beth specifically to be a three point shooter which has been a weakness in our program for about two or three years,” Naumovski said. “We continue to recruit people who shoot the ball and they all haven’t been ready to fulfill our need as much as we’ve wanted to, but I know [Beth] is capable because I’ve watched her in high school and AAU go off for 7 three pointers in a game.
“I’m not surprised by her leading us in three-point percentage but I am a little bit surprised that, as a freshman, she plays with a lot of intelligence and a lot of poise,” Naumovski continued. “I know she had a basketball IQ but having her here, I’ve realized that she’s even better than I thought.”
Bonin struggled with her shot in their first loss of the season against Assumption when she went 1 for 5 from three-point range but quickly got back on track during the Nov. 30 conference game against Mercy when she improved and went 3 for 9. She credits good team play and practice for her bounce back performance.
“Today I got in the gym before the game started and I think that really helped. Also I think my teammates did a good job of finding me in the corners when I was open,” Bonin said.
Teamwork will continue to be an important theme this season. Although the team has been sharing the ball, both Naumovski and Bonin said that, in order to improve, the team has to have more communication on the court.