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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Loyola Women’s Basketball is Ready for Battle after Early Season Win Streak

Loyola Womens Basketball is Ready for Battle after Early Season Win Streak
Larry French

During the Thanksgiving holiday campus was mostly empty although the court in Reitz Arena was full of sound. Sneakers scuffed, the ball bouncing echoed as it made a swoosh through the hoop. The Women’s Basketball team did not get to go home, the athletes were still hard at work preparing for their 2023 season.

Coach Danielle O’Banion has been the Loyola Women’s Basketball head coach since 2021. In 20 years of coaching Division I athletes, she believes Loyola has brought her the best fit for her professional career. She sees the promise of the Women’s Basketball program at Loyola, and how it is a team that strives for success. Additionally, O’Banion is content with the roster she has put together. 

She said, “I think the other thing that makes Loyola an excellent fit is the fact that there’s so much talent in and around this region in girl’s basketball. I feel like we would be able to recruit well internationally as well and that’s kind of fleshed itself out as you look at our roster with five international student athletes.”

O’Banion expanded by saying that this year’s roster has a certain depth to it that was not as prevalent in the past. In previous years, she stated that they were putting together the system standards and building blocks for the team. The team’s current attributes are what is helping them build momentum. 

“I feel like in year three, we have some continuity in the roster, some returning experience, so that the leadership is more player-driven instead of coach-driven. That’s making a huge difference on top of the fact that we have a more diverse skill set in each position group.”  

Ever since the post season in April, O’Banion has been looking for ways to take the program to the next level. This has included developing the team’s practice habits; O’Banion believes the athletes have risen to the occasion by absorbing every practice and putting their best foot forward. Her second point of focus ties in with elevating the program. 

She said, “Our goal is to continue to maintain that consistency, which it sounds trite, but it’s difficult to be consistent especially with as much as they’re managing on a daily basis.” 

Meliah Van-Otoo ’24 is a guard for Loyola. She puts emphasis on being a team player and seeks to support her teammates in any way that they need. She believes it is not only important to support one another on the court but also off. She explained that when they work outside of the games to build a solid team foundation, it will be evident on the court when it is time to play. 

She said, “One of the things that is working for us is our preparation. Going into year two, I’ve developed a game day routine, you know, I’m in tuned of, ‘what did I eat on this day?’ or ‘what music was I listening to?’ It’s more about finding out what works for me and being a supportive teammate for my team.”

So far, the team started with a loss, obtained a win streak of three, but then lost again to St. Bonaventure University 55-51. Van-Otoo is hoping that her team can bring in more wins this season and is excited for the games ahead. There may be adversities to come, but she is confident in the team’s chemistry and that they will pull through no matter what. She mentioned how each person brings something unique to the table and how their unpredictability can prove as an advantage.

She said, “You don’t know which one of us is gonna be able to make those clutch moments and respond in a clutch manner. That’s why it makes it so challenging for opponents because you might be able to stop one of us but you can’t stop all of us.”

Graduate student Ava Therien is a forward for Loyola. It is her fifth year on the team, but she has not played for the past two years due to an injury. She is looking forward to playing on a team with her sister, Lex Therien ’25, again since she has not had that opportunity since their high school years. This is one more reason for her to stay healthy as her primary goal is to avoid further injuries. When she is on the court, she has more of a chance to help her team.  

She said, “I feel like our team this year is the closest it has ever been. We are all on the same page, we finally get the system and how everything works, so it’s exciting to see how everything is coming together as one whole piece.”

Therien referred to her team as a family. Once students have gone home for Thanksgiving break, she said you will find the team on campus practicing, watching basketball on television together, and gathering for team lunches. She believes they have love for each other, and that it is neat to be a part of that community.

Therien thinks they have a great season ahead and encourages people to come out and support at their games. She added that the games are more fun to play when the stands are full. 

Although the team has been ranked lower this season, Van-Otoo believes that they still bring the talent and the determination to win the Patriot League Championships. 

“They had us ranked a little lower this year and I want people to know that we’re proving ourselves right this year.”  

The next game for Women’s Basketball is away against St. John’s University on Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m..

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