DUBLIN – After last year’s disappointing campaign, three successive defeats to open the season weren’t exactly what Marist women’s basketball had in mind as a palette cleanser.
The Red Foxes opened with losses to Villanova by 22, Penn by 4, and Green Bay by 29, and now, Marist will look to kickstart its season with a trip abroad, competing in the MAAC-ASUN Challenge in Dublin, Ireland.
Here’s a look at how the Red Foxes have performed to this point in the season and what to expect from the games against Eastern Kentucky and North Florida in Dublin.
What’s Gone Wrong so Far?
For the most part, it’s been the same story as last season. In the games against Villanova and Green Bay (two very good teams), the Red Foxes combined to shoot 5-for-37 from beyond the three-point line. Marist did shoot much better in the game against Penn (9-for-19) but some self-inflicted mistakes like poor free-throw shooting, defensive lapses, and untimely turnovers proved to be the difference in a 65-61 loss.
The Red Foxes are also still looking to establish some more scoring threats. Right now, opposing teams know that Zaria Shazer (11.7 points per game), Kiara Fisher (10.3 points per game), and Kendall Krick (8.7 points per game) are the players to key in on.
It was encouraging to see Maeve Donnelly emerge on Saturday with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double against Green Bay, but Giorgis will have to hope that some of his other role players can begin to shoulder some of the scoring load.
Planes, (No) Trains, and Automobiles
Last weekend, the travel to Green Bay proved difficult enough (the team flew into Milwaukee before driving three hours to its final destination) but going abroad and dealing with red-eye flights and a five-hour time jump provides a completely different set of challenges.
The Marist travel party arrived at the Dublin airport just past 4 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning, and after it took another hour for the baggage situation to get sorted out, the team didn’t arrive at its hotel until about 6 a.m.
The team practiced for an hour at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon.
“The biggest thing that affected our practice is that we only had an hour,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said. “We kind of hyper-speeded everything. The main thing we wanted to do is that this is the court we’re playing on, so we wanted to get shots up. Plus we wanted to get a run in.”
The Red Foxes had expected to practice on Tuesday morning in Poughkeepsie, but a change of time of the team’s flight and the airport it was leaving from meant that there was only time to do a walkthrough.
Wednesday was the first time the team practiced since Friday because of its game on Saturday and planned days off on Sunday and Monday. While the team used the Wednesday practice to shake off the rust and get some shots in, the lack of work could be a blessing given all the adjusting that comes with traveling to a foreign country in a much different time zone.
The Red Foxes will face Eastern Kentucky (2-1) on Friday at 7:30 a.m. eastern time with the game being broadcast nationally on ESPNU. It will be a quick turnaround as they take on North Florida (1-1) on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Eastern Kentucky should provide a test for Marist’s defense as the Colonels are averaging 80 points per game and shooting at 38 percent from behind the arc. The Red Foxes faced a few talented scorers already this season in Maddy Siegrist (Villanova) and Kayla Padilla (Penn). Antwainette Walker leads Eastern Kentucky at 22 points per game and scored 29 and 26 in her first two outings of the season.
Marist did well against Siegrist in the season-opener but couldn’t contain Padilla. The key against the Colonels will be containing Walker and making one of their other players step up.
The Red Foxes have good memories against North Florida from the last time they competed in the MAAC-ASUN Challenge, besting the Ospreys 69-54 in November 2019. So far this season, North Florida has an easy win over non-NCAA school Warner and a 23-point loss at Wisconsin.
Lyric Swann leads the Ospreys with 17 points per game and the team has two other players — Kristy Hamze and Jaelyn Swann — in double figures so far this year.
With the games coming on back-to-back days, the coaching staff will prepare similarly to how it would during the MAAC Tournament.
“Somebody already has the scout (for North Florida) ready to go,” Giorgis said. “We’ll come back from our game on Friday, give the team some time to relax, and then we’ll watch the film and go at it.”
The Red Foxes started off the season with three pretty stiff tests. Villanova was just outside the top 25 and featured one of the best players in the country, Penn had a star of its own and will be in the mix to compete in a very strong Ivy League, and Green Bay was picked second in the Horizon League.
The Ospreys and Colonels were picked fifth and ninth respectively in the ASUN and are better matchups than the likes of Villanova and Green Bay. The Red Foxes will aim to secure at least one win in the Emerald Isle, which would be the program’s first victory since Feb. 21.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photo from Andrew Hard