The women’s basketball team’s results away from the friendly confines of Ben Light Gymnasium suggest the Bombers are feeling right at home during road trips this season.
The Blue and Gold have won six of their eight road games this season and all three of their Empire 8 Conference matchups in unfamiliar territory.
Head Coach Dan Raymond said the key to the Bombers’ successful road trips lies in how they keep their goals the same regardless of their location.
“It doesn’t matter who we play or where we play, it just matters how we play,” Raymond said. “So the focus is not on going some place to win a game, but rather to go and execute the way we’re supposed to execute all the time.”
The Bombers should be battle-tested for the upcoming road slate after the extensive trip it took to the Midwest right before winter break. The team traveled more than 10 hours by bus to Holland, Mich., to take part in the Hope College Post-Exam Jam on Dec. 16 and 17. The tournament’s name had a touch of irony for the Bombers because the players still had to take finals immediately following the weekend trip.
Senior guard Jessica Farley said though the long bus ride yielded a good amount of study time, it was still difficult for her and her teammates to completely focus on the upcoming out-of-conference games.
“It was definitely hard to not worry about finals during those hours where we had to play basketball,” she said. “The tournament was a lot more fun for the other schools because they could just go home afterwards, and we knew we had to go back to school.”
The Bombers advanced to the tournament’s final game to play against the host school in DeVos Fieldhouse, which will be the site of this season’s NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championships on March 17. Freshman forward Geena Brady said the team’s experience playing in Michigan will be important if the Blue and Gold are able to put together an extended run in the national tournament.
“It’s definitely an environment that we want to be in,” she said. “When we were at Hope we tried to get used to playing there so that we could come back in March.”
The South Hill squad is tied with Hartwick College for the best away record with a mark of 7—2. The Bombers have not lost more than five games away from home since the 2007-08 season when they finished with a record of 7—7.
Raymond also said no matter what measures he and the rest of the coaching staff take to prepare their squad for life on the road, the Bombers’ success will ultimately
depend on the team’s leaders.
“We as coaches can mention and talk about it, but it’s the example being set by the upperclassmen players,” Raymond said. “We’ve been fortunate to have very good students here that set a high standard for the younger players.”