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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The past has not been a blast for this observer

Published: February 10, 2006
Section: Sports

There is an episode of Friends where Joey is dating a girl he thinks hes slept with before. He recognizes things in the apartment, reconnects with his favorite painting on the wall, and even relives the feeling of stupidity after being pricked by touching a cactus plant.

In a sad way, I feel the same while watching the Brandeis womens basketball team play this season. The past three seasons Ive been following the womens team, and I feel like Ive been here before. Things look familiar. Dj vu, if you will.

It started in the 2003-2004 season with a 67-31 beating of Keuka. Then Brandeis started 5-0 for the first time under Coach Carol Simon, and then were 10-2 for the first time. They were led that season by seniors Danielle Fitzpatrick 04 and Jayne Wise 04. But the Brandeis basketball team also established some important players that season who would be recurring characters in later years.

Then sophomores Christine Clancy and Amanda DeMartino and First Years Basia Grzyb and Caitlin Malcolm were four players who were on that team, learning from the juniors and seniors. The one blip on the radar that season was a loss at Chicago, who was near the cellar of the UAA and someone Brandeis had beaten by 19 earlier in the season. The Judges finished the year 22-5, culminating with their first ever ECAC championship.

The next year the four players mentioned above, as well as newcomers led by UAA Rookie of the Year, Jaime Capra 07, and role players Catherine Brady 05 and Emily Malkin 05, were back to accomplish more and make the NCAA tournament. They went into the game at Emory University, another member of the UAA, with a 14-0 record, and a #3 seed in the poll. And they also had the satisfaction of knowing that Emory was a team with a losing record.

The satisfaction didnt last long, and Brandeis left Emory with a loss. The loss sent Brandeis back home where they were unceremoniously greeted with a 30-point loss to Wash U. After a loss at Rochester, they had one last chance to grab an NCAA birth at NYU and left with a 60-47 defeat. They barely missed out on an NCAA tournament Pool C (at-large) birth and went on to win the ECAC Championship, ending the season with at 23-4 record.

This year was supposed to be different. Even with Brady and Malkin graduating and Grzyb '07 not returning, the extra year of experience and maturity combined with a strong rookie class was supposed to put this Brandeis team over the top. But after a 10-0 start and coming within 6 points of the top spot in the poll, they have fallen to 15-3 and #15 in the poll. Again they went into Emory University as large favorites and lost. And again they are in danger of not making the NCAA tournament.

The “Friends” episode ends with Joey finding out that in fact, he had had sex in the apartment he was in, just not with the woman he was datingit had actually been her roommate. So too, Brandeis basketball fans may find a different ending than they were expecting this year, even though the results look quite the same so far.

Although the media outlets on campus have made it seem like the Judges would have to win out, it is possible for them to make the tournament even with a loss. Though one loss the rest of the way does give this Brandeis team the same record as last year, there is one reason for hope: like the slow kid in the musical chairs game, Brandeis should be comforted that there are more chairs (or seeds) in this years tournament.

While there were only seven Pool C bids last year, this year that number has tripled to 21. One of the factors that helps determine the Pool C bids is QOWI (Quality of Wins Index), which has Brandeis tied for 13th overall (11.000). Considering that most of those teams in the top 13 will make the tournament with automatic bids, the Brandeis women have an excellent chance to make it with one loss (and it is even feasible with two). Even their loss at Emory does not sting as badly as the one last year because Emory is a much improved team (helping to round out a very tough United Athletic Association Conference)

But what does Brandeis have to do to win its remaining games? Well, it starts on the road tonight against a very tough Rochester team, who may prove too much for Brandeis after many impressive wins so far this season. The final homestand for Brandeis should not be much easier. They play formidable UAA rivals Wash U, Chicago and NYU to close out the season. In their last 49 home games, theyve lost to only one team (Wash U)three times. Thats why the 2/17 game against Wash U is so important. A win for Brandeis gets it off to a good start on the home stand, and both Chicago and NYU have shown this season that they are beatable.

Two years ago Brandeis was satisfied with winning the ECAC tournament;

last year they settled for it. This year, its not enough for this group of talented players. They are all a little beat-up (which can be seen by the matching knee braces they all seem to wear), but this is the point in the season where great teams separate themselves from the pack. The Brandeis womens basketball team needs to prove that this year is different.