WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — 40 minutes of consistency.
Pat Manning, head coach of Williams College women's basketball, is aware her 2017-18 roster is full of talent and depth. But can the Ephs find consistency for 40 minutes, game in and game out this season?
Manning, back for her 28th season at the helm of the Ephs program, is eager to find out.
"A major goal of ours this season is to have consistency throughout each game of the entire season," Manning said. "We feel we have great depth, we have talent. The question is, can we put it together for a full 40 minutes. That wll be the key, it's all about consistency."
"They did a great job this fall leading by example in the weight room and with organizing the team for Nov. 1," Manning said. "Once practice began, I have loved the energy and enthusiasm. They worked tremendously hard in the offseason and that has shown up so far. The seniors are hungry to have a successful final season."
Williams finished 15-10 in 2016-17, getting off to a hot start at 10-2, but finishing 3-7 in conference play and losing to eventual national runner-up Tufts in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Manning returns 11 players from that squad, and combined with five first years, is counting on that depth to make a difference down the stretch.
"We do have more depth at every position," Manning noted. "We are looking to improve our transition game and in order to do that, we have to be much stronger on the boards. Defensively, we're looking to extend the floor and pressure the ball 94 feet."
Manning is expecting the junior class of Lauren Vostal, Lexi Jones and Caroline Lovisolo and the sophomore class of Emily Chang, Emily Peckham, Katie Brule, Ang Vecchiarelli and Olivia Carlson to meld with the first year class of Gabby Martin, Morgan Dauk, Maggie Meehan, Mikaela Topper and Meghan Voss quickly.
The Ephs averaged 58 points per game last year and the top returning scorer is Fechtelkotter at 10.4 ppg. She is also the top returning shooter, hitting 51.4 percent of her shots a year ago. Fechtelkotter also led the Ephs in rebounding with 7.6 per game and blocks with 51. Fernandez is second with 9.3 ppg. and led the team in assists (62) and steals (39). Chang topped the team with 46 three-pointers, shooting 30.1 from the floor. Zaleski averaged 6.2 ppg. and 3.6 rpg. in only 16 minutes per game. Peckham was second on the team among returners with 19 blocks.
The Ephs' schedule will be a formidable one, especially early, as they will be challenged by five teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season: Rochester, Husson, UMass-Dartmouth, Eastern Connecticut and DePauw before conference play begins in 2018, and then national champion Amherst (twice) and national runner-up Tufts (once) when NESCAC play begins. The conference schedule is a difficult road to navigate as the depth of the conference continues to lengthen.
"We have an incredibly challenging non-conference schedule," Manning said. "It will be a great opportunity to see where we are and where we are headed going into conference play because once again the NESCAC is loaded. It's all about how consistent we can become as individuals and as a team, for 40 minutes each game."
Manning will be supported by assistants Meredith Mesaris and newcomer Joial Griffith.