Also known as "Be Gentle, It's My First Time."
So I was cruising around the blog the other day, and I noticed that the women's team wasn't getting a whole lotta love around here. I e-mailed TMill, and lo and behold, he gave me the green light to take a shot at filling that void. So the first thing I need to do here is thank him for giving me the opportunity to talk like someone might actually listen. (Check)
First off, a little about myself: I'm a sophomore in Electrical Engineering. As suggested by my tag, I'm a musician as well, and I play in the All-American Marching Band, Boiler Brass, and the Gold and Black Sound, the last of which is what led me to do this. That's also why I'm never around for the open threads, unfortunately. So that's me.
What about the Boilers?
Last Season (15-17, 9-9)
Last season was the dreaded transition year for the Boilers, as there were only three seniors and no juniors on the roster. I wish there was another way to put it, if only because that is an overused description, but there's not. Combine that with the fact that the team had just eight healthy players at one point, and a .500 record in the Big Ten becomes quite an accomplishment. Actually, there was a remarkable similarity with last year's football team. A rough start in non-conference play, caused largely by turnover problems , gave way to a solid Big Ten season highlighted by an upset of a Top 5 Ohio State team. It was a little spooky, actually.
Oddities aside, if we dig a little deeper, we see some reasons to be quite excited about this season. As a team, the turnover bug was pretty bad early in the year. Anytime you're over 20 per game, you've got problems. However, in conference play, they had cut it down to 17 a game, good for an average margin of +1.9. Also, several players began to grow into their roles, and the growing pains of a young team began to subside. All of those things should pay off this season.
The biggest reason for optimism, however, is the team's home record in Big Ten play. 8-1. Sure, that means that they were 1-8 on the road, but we all know that all good things in the Big Ten have to start at home. The road wins will come as this team matures. Back on point: helped by an excellent home crowd (led by, ahem..., the band) that was consistently larger than those they faced on the road, the team was nothing short of excellent in front of their fans, culminating in the aforementioned upset of Ohio State.
So, what about this year?
As you can probably tell, I'm quite optimistic about this season. We should be a tournament team, and might even be a sleeper in the Big Ten race. If we continue to protect our house like we did last year, we will be a very dangerous team. Also, and I'll get more into this when I do player profiles, but adding the #1 and #2 vote-getters for Indiana Miss Basketball will be a huge addition to the program. Replacing FahKara Malone's leadership will probably be the biggest early-season challenge, but by all accounts this is a very close team, and KK Houser and Sam Ostarello are already stepping up to fill that leadership role.
Last year, this was a young, talented team that sometimes struggled to bring it all together. This year, this is a flat-out talented team that has an excellent chance to be very, very good. Looking even further ahead, this team has no seniors. That means Coach Versyp essentially gets to build the team for two consecutive years, and next year could be epic. For now, though, I'm projecting a solid seed in the tourney and a top 5 finish in the Big Ten.