Gritty, relentless and familial: these are three adjectives senior point guard Dye Stahley used to describe this year’s women’s basketball team.
After a devastating loss in the semifinals of last season’s Big West Conference Tournament, the team will enter this season having lost seven players — six seniors and one freshman who transferred.
Stahley did not seem phased by the sudden change in the lineup, however.
“We are definitely going to lose some experience; however, they recruited a great group of younger girls who have been learning fast, adjusting well. So I’m not too concerned about the experience part,” Stahley said.
Head coach Faith Mimnaugh shared similar thoughts on the team’s roster adjustment.
“It’s definitely a new dynamic … but there’s been great cohesion within our players,” Mimnaugh said. “The upperclassmen have really done a great job of spending time with the younger players and really trying to help them hone in their skills.”
Mimnaugh said the team will be heavily relying on freshmen talent to carry the season.
“There’s no replacement for experience. We’re gonna try to put our freshmen into sophomore situations pretty quickly and we’re gonna have to rely on them so we hope everybody steps up,” Mimnaugh said. “It’s a matter of us trying to get as much experience into inexperienced players as we can.”
Vesela, who joined Cal Poly after parting ways with Michigan State, will not be participating in a game until midway into the season due to transferring halfway into the 2017-2018 season.
“I’m super excited to finally play — it’s been a long time since I’ve played my last game,” Vesela said. “It’s been kinda tough to watch the games, but I’ve had a lot of time with coaches to improve my game, so I’m really excited to implement what I’ve learned.”
Coach Mimnaugh solidified Vesela’s statement, stating that the 6-foot-4-inch junior is “as talented a player as we’ve had in our program.” Although Mimnaugh and the players feel confident about the upcoming season, the girls expressed some worry when asked about their toughest matchup of the season: UC Davis.
“UC Davis has reloaded — they have just kept having great players after great players every year,” Mimnaugh said.
As for the Mustangs as a whole, the coaches and players said they look forward to their growth on and off the court.
“It’ll be like raising a family,” Mimnaugh said.
“Our team is like a family and we put our family first,” Stahley, who earned last year’s Big West Hustle Player of the Year Award, said.
Although the Mustangs are not sure what the future will hold for their team, the girls are in high spirits and are look forward to turning their brand new family into a championship-winning team.
The Mustangs, who are picked to finish fifth and sixth in the pre-season polls, will be playing their first pre-season matchup against the Academy of Art Urban Knights at home on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Mott Athletics Center.
Video by Reid Fuhr