In basketball, rebounds are generally only attributed to players on the stat sheet.
Earlier this week though, Seton Hall women’s head coach Tony Bozzella made a rebound of his own after the Pirates had seem- ingly hit rock bottom.
On Feb. 7, the Pirates dropped their second straight game against St. John’s, prompting Bozzella to unleash an expletive-laced post-game rant that questioned his seniors’ will to play. The moment was uncharacteristic of the third- year head coach.
With the comments fresh in the players’ minds prior to the Hall’s game against Georgetown on Friday, Feb. 12, Bozzella needed to get his team focused. That’s where the mending began.
He told them a story about a herd of elephants climbing a mountain with a crowd of onlookers in the distance.
“The crowd said, ‘They’re not going to make it. They’re too big, too slow, too heavy, too fat,’ and none of them made it except one,” Bozzella said. “One made it all the way to the top, and people thought, ‘So, how could you make it?’ That elephant made it because he was deaf.”
Aleesha Powell was the “deaf elephant” of the Georgetown game, dropping a career-high 28 points. It was not enough though, as the Hoyas won, 73-65, giving the Pirates their third consecutive loss. Seniors Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Shakena Richardson combined for only 10 points, but Bozzella took a warmer, more familiar approach when speaking about them.
“They know that they can play better. They hold themselves to a high standard,” he said. “I think they’re disappointed with their play and they wish they can play better.”
What also made Bozzella’s remarks after the St. John’s game unusual was the way he admitted to a lack of confidence in his team. That changed after the loss on Fri- day, as he said with assurance that defense was his team’s weakness, not its mindset on the court.
The Pirates responded by holding Villanova to only 50 points on Sunday, Feb 14 in a much-needed 60-50 victory. Bozzella’s plan to force the Wildcats into forcing long threes worked perfectly, and he commended his players for their effort.
“They played with this extreme effort today, and I’m very proud of the girls.”
There is still work to be done, as the Pirates’ next two games will be at Butler and Xavier. If the road trip is swept, Seton Hall can put itself closer to the top of the mountain known as the Big East.
Anthony Di Paolo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @DiPaolo_016.