Every season must start somewhere. For the Georgetown women’s basketball team, the start of the 2015-16 season will be nearly identical to the start of the season that preceded it. For the second year in a row, the Hoyas will play their first game of the year against Maryland Eastern Shore.
However, much has changed for the Hoyas over the course of the last year. While the Georgetown lineup that takes the floor Friday night may look similar to the one UMES faced last season, once the game tips off, the experienced and unified team that begins play will likely be unrecognizable.
The absence of senior leadership that was a detriment to Georgetown last year is an asset this year. The Hoyas have already had the chance to play together as a unit for an entire season.
Another source of continuity is Head Coach Natasha Adair, who is back for her second season at the helm for Georgetown. Having seen coaches come and go in the last few years, the presence of a familiar and trusted leader on the sideline will be invaluable to the Hoyas.
“Last season it was the first game [for us together as a team]. There were so many other emotions with the start of the season,” Adair said. “Now it’s just really relaxed. It’s very comfortable in the gym. We are focused on what we need to work on. We know what to expect.”
Defense is a major point of emphasis for the Hoyas.
“This year the motto is defense. We need to be way more defensive-minded,” Adair said. “Every player on this team can contribute offensively, but where I think we need to be better, we need to be a more defensively sound team and you’re going to hear that focus game after game after game.”
Georgetown’s defense was good enough to beat UMES 88-75 last season. The Hoyas never trailed in that game, taking the lead 13 seconds after tipoff and extending their advantage to 16 points by the end of the first half. Georgetown remained in control in the second half as well, never letting its lead dip below nine points.
Despite her team’s success, Adair identified some defensive lapses from last year’s game against UMES.
“In that game a year ago, they scored in areas where we just have to be more disciplined, we have to be more focused,” Adair said.
UMES averaged only 61.2 points per game last season. The Hoyas allowed the Hawks to score 75 points.
“We always want to hold our opponents under their average in scoring. I am sure that will be one of our goals,” senior guard Katie McCormick said.
In particular, Georgetown’s defense will have to be aware of graduate student forward/center Alexis Udoji. For the second year in a row, Udoji was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Preseason All-Conference Team. She was the MEAC’s Defensive Player of the Year last season as well as an All-MEAC selection.
Udoji posted a double-double against the Hoyas last season, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. She also had six blocks.
“You don’t stop good players. You make it hard for them. You contain them. She is going to find a way to score, she is going to put the team on her back,” Adair said. “But at the end of the day, we want them to worry about how to stop all of our kids.”
The Hawks will have to worry about stopping sophomore guard Dorothy Adomako. Adomako led the Hoyas in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 boards on her way to being named Big East Freshman of the Year.
Against UMES last season, Adomako scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, giving her a double-double in the first game of her collegiate career. When Adomako steps onto the court Friday night, she will bring a full season of college basketball experience with her.
“Now I just think that I am more prepared. Since playing through the first year, I just got a feeling of how the game is being played at the college level,” Adomako said. “But I think we are all ready to play our first game this Friday. We are all excited.”
For Georgetown’s two freshmen, guard Dionna White and center Jodie-Marie Ramil, the excitement of the first game is likely mixed with nervousness of the unknown.
“[White and Ramil] are going to have nervous energy from it being the first official game, but they just [need] to bring the intangibles of who they are,” Adair said.
Friday’s game will be familiar territory for the team’s five seniors. However, with the end of their Georgetown careers looming, the motivation to leave everything on the court is greater than ever.
“It is my last year, so it’s all or nothing. That’s all I’m focusing on,” McCormick said.
Friday’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. in Princess Anne, Md.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.