BOZEMAN — Montana State women’s basketball has been impacted by COVID-19 left and right, dealing with team quarantines and even canceled games. But while the Bobcats have to wait almost two extra weeks to tip off their season, head coach Tricia Binford is thankful to have this extra time with her considerably young squad.
“It’s just going to take us longer to build some chemistry," said Binford. "We’ve got a lot of new faces and we haven’t had much time. That piece we just need to make sure we’re patient with.”
The Bobcats have been hit incredibly hard by quarantines this offseason, which has presented a number of challenges for a team working to rebuild its program after graduating five seniors last season. With this year's roster featuring seven freshmen, Binford is relying on two of her veteran players: Tori Martell and Darian White.
“I think every time you graduate with such experience, you’re immediately going to go to the experience that you have," added Binford. "These two ladies have the most experience on our team returning, and they’re veterans. I know I’m calling Darian a veteran as a sophomore, but she started every game for us last season.”
White finished her freshman campaign with 10 straight games in double-digit scoring, a performance that named her to the preseason all-Big Sky Conference team earlier this month.
“It definitely means a lot, but I also don’t want to overlook it," said White. "We’re here for a reason, we’re here for business. I just want to come out as a team and just prove who we are and not settle for anything, no matter what the preseason polls were, no matter what it said about us. I want to come out and just do really well this season.”
As the only returning senior this year, Martell is trying to instill last year’s championship mentality on the underclassmen as much as she can, even though their time together has been limited.
"A lot of us on the team who were there last year just know what it takes to win a championship, so coming off that, I think having that mindset going into every practice definitely helps, but it also helps when we get to practice," chuckled Martell. "I feel like, as a leader, it’s just having the mindset that we’re going to have a season every single day and that we need to prepare for it.”
With so many new faces and the lack of practices, the Bobcats have had to get creative as they approach their season opener.
“We’ve done a lot of film over Webexs," said Binford. "We’ve done some team chemistry things that we want to continue getting better at, but at the same time, we want to be on the court and be practicing."
Despite this year’s circumstances, Binford said her expectations for this team remain extremely high.
"We take a lot of pride in how we step on the floor and how we represent Montana State. We want to do that well, but there’s certain things out of our control, so things might not be as sharp as what we typically expect this time of year, but, boy, are we going to give you a dog fight," Binford said. "There’s certain things we can control -- that’s our effort, that’s how we’re going to approach it, and when we get to go, we’re going to go.”
The Bobcats will tip off their season inside Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on Sunday, Dec. 6 against the University of North Dakota.