Women’s basketball coach Tony Bozzella has changed the program around in the last three seasons. After making the NCAA Tournament in the previous two seasons before this year, he has the best winning percentage as a coach in program history. However, this season was different for Bozzella, who coached a young team to a 12-19 record.
Bozzella admitted it was a hard season to get through and the season was not up to the program’s new standards. However, there were still positives he noted, and many of the negatives he feels can turn to positives.
Bozzella saw the team as too inconsistent, which hurt the Pirates in their journey through the long season.
“Our inconsistency on the floor, our inconsistencies outside the floor, our inconsistencies with everything that we did,” Bozzella said. “Now we understand what we can and cannot do to be successful.”
Seton Hall did win a Big East playoff game for the fourth year in a row, something Bozzella noted as a positive. The Pirates beat the Providence Friars in the first round of the tournament, 73-60, in an effort that Bozzella feels showed the level they could play at.
“There were times that we didn’t play nearly to our level and that was a problem,” Bozzella said of the season as a whole.
A big problem for the Pirates entering this season was inexperience. They were a freshmen-heavy team with players like Kaela Hilaire, Deja Winters and Jayla Jones-Pack, who all had impacts on the floor, but at times struggled with the adjustment to college basketball.
“We’re playing with 18- and 19-year-old kids against 21- and 22-year-old women,” Bozzella said.
In the past, Bozzella had players more used to what it took to play in college, and having a team that was not used to the difference in season caused them to struggle at times. They were not used to the longer schedule, the long road trips or just going through practices day in and day out.
However, Bozzella is confident that this year was a huge stepping-stone to making sure his team is ready in the future.
“I think our young guys got a lot of experience and a lot of time on the floor, which will only be valuable for us next year,” Bozzella said.
Not relying on freshmen next year will be a change for the Pirates, but with the best recruiting class in the Big East, they will have weapons both young and old to get the program on the right track. Kim Evans and Selena Philoxy are the two incoming freshmen for next season who will combine with Taylor Brown, a transfer from Western Kentucky, and Tyeisha Smith, who will be a 20-year-old freshman after sitting out this season.
Despite the positives Bozzella brought up, he admits he had a growing year himself. He said he learned n a lot. He stressed learning from the mistakes both the players and coaching staff made, and continuing in the right direction.
With the future looking bright, the Pirates and Bozzella hope they can go back to being a Big East force and a tournament team once again.
Keith Egan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.