UAA women’s basketball team enduring an unprecedented season

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 7:30 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - To say that it has been an unusual season for the University of Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team would be an understatement. The pandemic derailed their hopes of a normal season, but the team is still finding ways to improve and prepare for next year.

The Seawolves are in the middle of an abbreviated four-game season this spring. They won their first two games by a convincing margin, and when they noticed an open date and that Pacific Oregon University had a game canceled, they jumped at the chance to play an exhibition game.

“One of the best ways to improve is, is to play games, just because of the intensity that it creates and stuff like that,” said head coach Ryan McCarthy. “So just getting the opportunity to come out here, you know, we’re definitely not prepared for any of this. We didn’t go through the normal process we normally go through. But we’re really ... fortunate to be able to compete for sure.”

McCarthy said the team normally goes through many building steps before facing another team. However, the pandemic required other plans for them, forcing the Seawolves to make do with what little preparation time they had.

As of Friday, the team has won all three games played, but McCarthy said they are far from playing at the championship level that he expects out of his team.

In addition to all of the COVID-19 precautions and procedures, athletes will be allowed an extra year of eligibility, which will leave this year’s seniors with an interesting decision to make.

“Our seniors are gonna stay. We have one that is leaving because we don’t have a graduate program anymore,” McCarthy said. “And then everyone else is, at this point in time, is coming back. And then we’ve signed two players, we’ll have a walk-on and then we’re still looking for one more to help us out for next season.”

Although this has been an unprecedented season, McCarthy said that not having the usual time to train and prepare has given him a newfound belief in what he does.

“I think from a coaching standpoint, it’s really given us a lot of validation, but also, ... it’s helped us, it’s been sobering,” McCarthy said.

He noted that the team used their time off the court to watch game film, evaluate their style of play and plan for the upcoming season.

“It’s not just about the X’s and O’s part about it,” he said. “I mean, I think culture kicks strategy’s butt all day and for us, that culture piece is just so huge.”

The culture he helped build from the ground up has resulted in six consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships with no signs of slowing down.

The Seawolves’ abbreviated season will wrap up on April 17 with games at Southern Oregon on Friday and Saturday.

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