“Women’s basketball practice squad utilizes non-athletes”

The Marist College women’s basketball has enjoyed almost constant success since being established as a varsity sport in 2001, and one reason for that might be having the added benefit of practicing against their opponent, even if their opponent isn’t actually in the gym.

That’s where the team’s practice squad comes in. Their role is crucial in the team’s ability to win, but one might be surprised to know that the practice squad consists entirely of ordinary students.

Practice squad member Andrew Sahawneh ‘19 gave an inside look at what goes on each day.

“An average day looks like playing a variety of different defenses, emulating the other team’s play, and really just trying to prepare them,” Sahawneh said.

As coaches gain access to game film from opponents, it’s on the practice squad to do the best job they can of performing the other team’s offensive sets and defensive tendencies. Drew Whiteley ‘20 explained more of the day-to-day occurrences.

“We are assigned to play as a certain player from the team of their upcoming game,” Whiteley said. [We] have to embody that player’s tendencies on offense when we run through their offensive sets.”

Eddie Whitman ‘20, who also has a spot on the squad, noted the appealing nature of continuing to play the sport, albeit not as a varsity athlete.

“I love playing on the practice squad. The players and coaches are great and I know we all have a great time at practices,” Whitman said. “For all of us, our basketball player careers are over but we enjoying playing the game and helping out the team.”

The squad is no small commitment. Practicing anywhere from three to five days a week, and two hours each day, they’ve parceled out plenty of time for the team. According to Sahawneh, however, the time is enjoyable.

“The girls are awesome, the coaches are cool,” Sahawneh said. “It’s nice to think we have an impact on the program.”

23 games into the season, the Red Foxes are sitting pretty at 16-7 heading into Thursday night’s matchup with the Manhattan Jaspers. The final stretch run of the season before the MAAC tournament will be a crucial one for the team, and the practice squad is gearing up as well, according to Whitman.

“We just want to help them get better every day so they can win a MAAC Championship,” Whitman said.

These three team members also offered some advice to someone considering joining the squad.

“Play good defense and always bring the energy,” Whiteley said. “Do what the coaches tell you to do.”

Sahawneh agreed, citing the importance of compliance during practice. “Work hard, have fun, and be versatile,” Sahawneh said. “Do your job, do what you’re told, and they’ll appreciate you.”

Jack McElduffComment