When studying for a vital test, students make sure to revisit highlighted key terms and go over any information that was discussed in class. Whether they are at their home court at the Panzer Athletic Center or on the road in their sporty coach bus, the Montclair State women’s basketball team takes a similar approach and is very precise in their preparation prior to meeting with their opponent.
Although William Patterson is not a far drive, the Red Hawks prepare the same as they would for any other lengthy destination and much harder for their local rival. Family and fans are aware that game time starts at six o’ clock for away games. However, the talented and dedicated female athletes show up at three o’ clock on the dot with red, white, and black Montclair State warm up shirts for their annual pre game walk through in the Panzer gym.
Before heading out on the road, head women’s basketball coach Karin Harvey gathers the miniature team of 10 players in the center of the glossy basketball court, alongside assistant coaches Colleen O’ Connell and Christian Alfano.
Harvey introduced the walk through by asking players if they had already read the scouting report, otherwise known as the scout. The players shared confident looks in their eyes and responded quickly by nodding their heads up and down to symbolize that they have.
The team consists of stud lowerclassmen and senior leaders, whom are all aware of how useful and informative the scouting report really is.
The secretive scouting report is a neon colored paper filled with statistics of competitors, including shooting percentages and specific skills of key players, defensive and offensive themes and the starting line-up for the opposing team. The scouting report also lists key tips for the Red Hawks to remember before heading out to William Patterson’s home court.
“The scout is a pretty important walk through,” said assistant coach Christian Alfano. “It’s like a Sparknotes version of everything they are going to do and Coach Harvey and Colleen work very hard on it so it is very detailed.”
As if the professional scouting report was not enough, Harvey also gives visual tips to players and instructs the team while they practice different defensive and offensive plays in the gym.
Harvey’s thunderous voice booms “AGAIN” whenever she is unsatisfied with the plays and follows with a delighted “PERFECT” when the plays mirror her proposed game plan.
The same level of respect and consideration that people would give to their own parents was reflected in the roomy gym between the players and Harvey. Whenever Harvey spoke to the players, each tall and muscular member locked eyes with Harvey and absorbed the critical tips before game time.
Although pregame at home is not a complete painting of how the game will be at William Paterson’s home court, communication is verbalized just as much as it would be in the real game. Seniors Kate Tobie and Katie Sire shouted “I got ball” or “I got screen” during different plays, in addition to the other hard working members of the team.
When the Red Hawks play away, Harvey never underestimates any team. She makes sure that the team discussions consist of honest feedback about what the team should beware of against their competitors.
“William Paterson is a blue collar hard working team and they are not going to give you an easy win,” said Harvey. “Do all the little things because they know their motions.”
After finishing their warm up, the players strap on their black Adidas backpacks, and load the gigantic coach bus in front of the Panzer Athletic Center. The players raced to the back of the bus in their grey and red warmups, while the assistant coaches stepped on last and sat in the front of the bus.
The brief 15 minute ride was calm as players conversed and cracked jokes with each other. When the team arrived at William Paterson’s athletic gym, the players made sure to give strong, solid fist pounds to assistant coaches O’Connell and Alfano on the way out the bus.
The visitor’s locker room is a completely different environment. Hip hop music blares from speakers as the girls change into their freshly washed apple red Montclair State uniforms, head bump back and forth to their playlist, show off their goofy dance moves, and sing lyrics in sync to rappers, A Boogie With The Hoodie and Gucci Mane.
After tightly lacing their matching metallic silver basketball kicks, the girls headed out the locker room with smiles on their faces as their excitement began to skyrocket. The Red Hawks strutted into the court with ownership and dropped off their belongings on the visitor’s bench.
Once the team settled on their side of the court, the girls stretched out their long limbs by running an exercise circuit with swinging leg kicks, toe touches, and rotating arm circles. After stretching, the girls bolted to the bold black seaming on the rusty orange basketballs to begin their pregame practice filled with shooting threes, free throw shots from the line and running layups.
After each player familiarized themselves with the court, the Red Hawks gathered back together and formed a gigantic circle on the right side of the court. In the circle, the girls dribbled and cheered each other on by chanting each other’s names and yelling “LET’S GO RED” and “YEAH RED”!
The Red Hawks closed their pregame with practicing defensive blocks on one another. The players clapped each other up and gave motivational and positive words to their teammates before the whistle was blown for game time.
Although there were many hard falls and aggressive fouls in the William Paterson match, the Red Hawks held their composure and defeated their local rival with a close 65-56 victory.
Before returning back on the coach bus, the players shared huge, sweaty hugs with their families and friends by the visitor’s concession stand.
When the coach bus arrived in front of the William Paterson gym, the exhausted players dragged their feet to the back of the bus and slumped down in their seats. After a tiring and cutthroat match, it is important to remember where it all starts.
“It all starts with our walk through,” said freshman forward Caitlyn Hughes. “It is so important because it gives our team a sense of what our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are.”
Montclair State | New Jersey