Women’s basketball ranked ninth, still looking to improve

by Tim LoneStaff Writer

In the most recent Division III women’s basketball poll, Simpson moved up to ninth place in the rankings.

Even with a top ten spot in the rankings, Coach Brian Niemuth and the Storm are not about to let their guard down. Niemuth knows that every team they play from here on out will be looking to put a blemish on the Storm’s record.

“Every game is a challenge now because people want to knock you off,” Niemuth said. “Teams that aren’t doing well, they can make their season by knocking off a ranked team.”

Niemuth added that one of the keys to the rest of the year is making sure they’re ready to play every night, as well as remembering all the hours they’ve put in to try and make this season a successful one.

“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Niemuth said. “We just got to make sure we’re ready for it and remember how hard we’ve worked to get here and not give one away.”

Adding to the team ranking, sophomore guard Amy Hamilton has moved into second place in Division III in three-point shooting as of Jan. 19. Hamilton is shooting 50 percent (45-of-90) from beyond the three-point arc. Hamilton is 26th in Division III in made three-pointers per game with a 2.7 average.

Senior forward Maria Oliver said one of the main challenges for the rest of the season will be maintaining their focus and playing to their potential every time they step out on the court.

“I think playing to our potential and keeping our focus is going to be our most difficult challenge,” Oliver said. “We need to focus on what we need to do and not play to the level of our competition.”

Junior guard Emily Smith said one of the keys to the team’s success thus far has been the leadership of the seniors.

“I think we have a good group of seniors this year,” Smith said. “They all lead in different ways. Whether it’s vocal leadership or ability out on the floor or even on the bench, I just think that that has a lot to do with it.”

Oliver added that one of the other big parts of the team’s good start is their chemistry on and off the court.

“We all get along really well,” Oliver said. “It’s nice to know we have that connection off the court too, that everyone is able to rely on each other and be there for each other. So I think that has a lot to do with it.”

Niemuth said one of the things that has helped the team get such a strong start to the season has been their depth.

“Everybody in the conference has a good starting five,” Niemuth said. “Everybody. Some teams, you get into their bench and they don’t have the quality players we do on the bench.”

Niemuth continued, saying that the team’s depth is something that has improved over the course of the season.

“Earlier in the year I thought we had maybe eight players that could start,” Niemuth said. “Right now I think we’ve got a legitimate ten that could start.”

With as much success as the women’s basketball program has had in recent years, and as many returning players as Simpson has this year, it would be easy to start comparing this year’s team to last year’s. Niemuth said that even though there are a number of the same players still around from last year’s squad, the team is still very different.

“I think every year the team is different even though you might have some of the same players,” Niemuth said. “It’s different because they form their own identity through how they play. This team has formed their identity through their athleticism and playing at a high tempo.”

Niemuth also added that the leadership and experience of the seniors is something that will provide a big advantage for the team down the stretch.

“I think we’ve got an excellent group of seniors who’ve been through this going on their fourth year now,” Niemuth said. “So they understand what it takes to win.”