Complete culture change sparks Daemen women’s success

Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Daemen women’s basketball team is in the midst of their best season since becoming a Division II program with a 19-3 record and sitting atop of the conference standings with four games left in the regular season.

The success the Wildcats are seeing on the court this season has been a long time coming.

“We just have a really motivated mindset,” junior forward Caroline White said. “Two years ago, my freshman year, we really decided that we wanted to change the culture of Daemen Women’s Basketball. That postseason we really set some standards that we wanted to follow that we wanted to be one of the best teams in the region and we really work towards that goal, so the mindset is one of motivation.”

“The skies the limit. There’s nothing that this team can’t do.”

“It’s great, the players made the decision last year at the end of spring what they wanted to accomplish,” Daemen head coach Jenepher Banker said. “We have great leadership in the upperclassmen and they set the tone. The way the year has gone is due to the hard work that they’ve put in, both off season and in season.”

Changing the culture of a program from within usually takes time, but for Daemen, the change was almost immediately apparent. After finishing the 2017-18 season with a 12-17 record, the Wildcats put together an 18-10 season last year, and if they win out the final four games this season, could end up 23-3.

“It really comes from wanting to come together, and wanting to set it in motion for ourselves,” junior guard Tiara Filbert said. “This is what we want to be, and this is how we’re going to get there. It really has to come from within us, every time we come out in practice, we remind each other every day what our goals are.”

“When we see each other throughout the school day, we’ll just be like hey how are you, we do these little check-ins so it’s not just like we’re focused solely on basketball, but with our goals we try to make sure we are people to each other. It helps us on the court and off the court.”

The cohesiveness and closeness of this team has catapulted the Wildcats to a 33-5 record in their last 38 games, dating back to last season. One win shy of hitting 20 wins for the first time in seven years, Daemen is using the missteps of former seasons as learning opportunities.

“It’s a really great feeling to have. Every time we win a game or every time we do something good, it’s a great feeling to live in that moment, but just with anything, we take it in stride and we take it as something we can still learn from, because you know you can never be done learning,” Filbert said.

“It’s a great feeling, but we’re unsatisfied still. We have really big goals that we want to achieve, we want to win the conference, we want to make the NCAA Tournament, that was something that we were motivated by last year, we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament,” White said. “That’s something that we really want to do, so we have a couple ways of getting there, and at this point we are really motivated to get there.”

Daemen hosts Mercy College on Sunday at 1 pm for the first of the final two home games of the regular season, with their eyes set on notching that coveted 20th win of the season.

The Wildcats return to the floor on Friday at 6 pm when the University of the District of Columbia comes to town.

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