The AU women’s basketball team has started their season 0-20, and with only six healthy players for the rest of the season, there is a growing sense that the Ravens may finish the season winless.
But despite the rough year, there are reasons to believe the team will have more success next season.
Hannah Hawkins, a 6’1” center from Fairmount, Indiana, is closing in on becoming the first freshman to lead the women’s basketball team in both scoring and rebounding over the course of a full season.
After starting the season coming off the bench, Hawkins quickly grabbed a starting spot due to her height and dominance on the low block.
Hawkins currently averages 9.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. She would be the first freshman to lead the team in both categories since the university began keeping statistical archives in the 2000-01 season.
“For me, giving up is not an option,” said Hawkins. “I knew that I had the potential to help my team, so I put in the extra work and just earned my spot on the team,”
She also leads the team in blocks per game, averaging 1.5, and field goal percentage, shooting 52.7 percent.
More of the team’s struggles can be attributed to the bizzarre number of injuries the Ravens have suffered this season. Only one player has played in all 20 games.
Due to the injuries, the team has only been playing with six players since Jan. 24. Five of the six are freshman (Hawkins, Ryana Watson, Hannah Dunn, Jordan Ware and Marlowe McVay).
Even with more than half of the team sidelined for the rest of the year, they are still doing their best to improve as players.
Freshman Lauren McGuire was active for a team low six games this season due to a concussion, but has taken time off and turned it into a learning experience.
“I’ve been able to make sure I really know the plays, she said. “Physically I am really limited, so I can’t do much there, but I’ve definitely gotten better at being a better teammate and supporting the girls.”
The injured players are still expected to attend and be fully engaged at all practices and games.
“It makes us feel like a part of the team still, even if we aren’t playing,” McGuire said.
The Ravens have also been able to develop some very young talent in the midst of their injury-riddled season.
Coach Lindsay Shade took over the program before the 2015-16 season. Since that time, she hascoached several very young teams, and this season is no different. With seven freshman and five sophomores on a roster of only 13, one of Shade’s main focuses has been developing her players as they transition from high school to college.
One key to developing the young players and helping them transition is an established culture that players can buy into.
“Typically, upperclassmen model what it takes,” said Shade. “Over time, the freshman start to catch on. With only one senior and no juniors, we do not have that luxury.”
Due to this, Shade has been forced to create a new culture each year and find players who can accept it quickly.
“If young players can come in with a growth mindset, they will progress quicker,” Shade said. “Having a growth mindset allows them to receive feedback in a way that is productive.”
Even with all the injuries this season, Shade has done a good job rotating her players and broadening their skill sets.
Hawkins explained, “The coaches revealed my strengths to me and showed me how to properly use them against older more experienced players.”
Despite a potentially winless season for the Ravens, the future is looking bright.
The team will have 12 players eligible to return next year, along with a strong class of freshman set to join the team. If the players can stay healthy and build upon their experience from this season, then the Ravens could see a big turn around next year.