Shepherdstown, W.Va.,– Cold weather is upon us and so is the upcoming basketball season for the Shepherd University Rams. The women’s basketball team will start their season Nov. 8 hosting out of conference team Fayetteville State at 3 p.m. in the Butcher Center.
The men and women’s basketball teams will be hosting “Ram Fam Appreciation Night,” tonight at 7 p.m. at the Butcher Center.
There will be a meet and greet, games, prizes and food. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to help to the two teams start the season.
The upcoming season is expected to come with significant change as Shepherd University’s athletic programs each begin their first season with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) this year.
The women’s basketball program is no different, at least in one way, says junior forward Sydney Clayton.
Teams in the PSAC conference are “a lot more aggressive” than the Mountain East Conference (MEC) and the team will have to be ready for the change in the style of play, Clayton says.
Shepherd was picked to finish eighth out of nine teams in the pre-season coaches polls for the PSAC East Division.
Shepherd finished their season in the MEC with an overall record of 11-18, 8-14 in conference play.
The conference change is, “Definitely more of a challenge but we’re ready to take it on,” Clayton said.
The PSAC ranks second among all NCAA Division II Conferences with 18 members and championship opportunities in 23 different sports.
The Rams will play five non-conference games before entering PSAC play on Nov. 23 against Edinboro University.
After playing two friendly scrimmages leading up to the beginning of the first regular season game, the team will be working to improve on their communication, Clayton says.
“Our communication is not bad, but it’s not quite where we want and need it to be,” she said.
The team added five freshmen and one transfer who are, “noticeably contributing,” after two of their main scorers graduated last season says Clayton.
“Overall as an athletic program there will be tough competition, but especially with basketball,” junior guard Rae Henderson said.
“Each year multiple teams from the conference go on to play in the NCAA championships.”
“We can do great things and work as a unit. I believe with our team energy we can challenge anyone that comes our way,” Henderson added.
Henderson also said that when the team energy is up the team can do more running, jumping and talking which she said shows a great amount of effort and hard work on the court.