Injuries give bench an extended opportunity for women’s basketball

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GVL / Archive GVSU vs. MSU

Stephanie Deible

At the start of a Grand Valley State University women’s basketball game, the crowd may have its eyes on the Lakers’ starting five, but the players in uniform know that in order for them to be successful, all 10 members of GVSU’s roster will have to contribute.

With knee injuries ending the season for juniors Alex Stelfox and Lauren Stodola and a mid-season suspension ending senior Jasmine Padin’s year, the Lakers have leaned on their depth and competitive nature to help each other take on new roles.

“When we compete against each other in practice, the bench competes just as hard as our starters do,” said redshirt freshman Emily England. “I think that helps our starters first of all be ready for the game, but it also helps them improve their own game.”

For GVSU head coach Janel Burgess, being able to have players on the bench that can enter a game and contribute is important in for maintaining the focus and progression of a team.

“If you look at the young ladies that do come off the bench, their focus and their ability to maintain what’s been going on, on the court prior to entering the game has been tremendous,” she said. “All five of those young ladies know what their role is, and are playing it to a tee right now in order for us to continue to get better.”

Although the Laker bench has seen increased court-time and has helped GVSU maintain their focus level in recent weeks, expectations of the team have stayed consistent.

“We’ve talked that nobody needs to do more than what they’ve already been doing, except maybe one thing here or there,” Burgess said. “And it’s not going to be the same thing throughout.”

Sophomore guard Dani Crandall is embracing her role coming off the bench and the opportunity to contribute to her team.

“Being a starter would be a great thing, but being trusted to be the next man off the bench is almost just as great,” said Crandall, who averages 3.6 rebounds per game off the bench. “It’s a good feeling to know that even though you’re coming off the bench you’re still getting good minutes and contributing.”

As the Lakers try to fill the void left by injuries, their ability to adapt to adverse situations has been aided by attention to detail.

“It’s about being prepared,” England said. “Knowing the scouting report, watching film and trying to know what our opponents are going to do. For myself, it’s a matter of communicating with people on the floor, calling out plays and talking with coaches and teammates on the bench.”

GVSU’s roster may be small in number, but the Lakers are using the adversity they have faced as motivation to stay on course and continue to work hard.

“Right now I feel like the ten people that play are so close,” England said. “We really enjoy being with each other off the court and on the court we’re fighting for each other. We’re all going through the same thing.”

GVSU will travel to Ferris State University and face the Bulldogs on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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