The Lafayette College women’s basketball team is 7-19 and 2-13 in Patriot League play after yesterday’s 67-57 loss to American University. There are three games left in the regular season.
The records are no surprise. The team hasn’t had a winning season in more than 20 years. What is it in Easton, Pennsylvania, that prevents a program that is fully funded from winning? This isn’t like running a beach volleyball team in Alaska.
Yes, there have been a lot of injuries this year, and in the past, there have been coaching changes, staff turmoil, transfers and some odd decisions involving playing time. Those are the same things that happen everywhere else too, but at Lafayette, every misstep is fatal.
A basketball team needs a rotation of about eight good players to compete, and the Patriot League is a forgiving atmosphere. It doesn’t produce national contenders. Lafayette just can’t do it, even though this is one sport where “coaches for life” aren’t the rule.
The women’s team has had four coaches since 2010, when Diane Nolan took over after Tammy Smith wasn’t re-hired. Smith didn’t win much, but then, there wasn’t much winning right before she took over in 2001, and there hasn’t been much since she left.
Nolan won at Fairfield University, but couldn’t win here. She left in 2015, and her assistant, Hall of Fame Coach Theresa Grentz took over for two years and was ousted, no reasons publicly given. She won everywhere but at Lafayette: two-year record in Easton, 10-51.
Coach Kia Damon is in her second year. The 2017-18 season brought an 11-19 record. This year won’t be as good.
Maybe there’s some hope. Damon doesn’t sugar-coat her comments and six of the nine players who got on the court yesterday were freshmen and sophomores.
Maybe next year….