The St. Lawrence women's Basketball team lined up in a row

The Success of Fundamental Change

Saints Reach Liberty League Semifinals

Meghan Nichols

After finishing 8-17 and missing the Liberty League playoffs last year, the St. Lawrence University women’s basketball team completely changed its game plan heading into the 2019-2020 season of one overarching goal, the Saints returned to fundamentals. 

Those fundamentals included ball-handling, shooting percentage, and passing; they focused less on game planning for each individual game and more on player development.

The results speak for themselves. The Saints led the Liberty League in scoring defense, field goal percent defense and three-point field goal percent defense. As a result, they finished the season 18-9, advancing to the Liberty League tournament semifinals for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

“Last year it was individuals playing a team sport and this year, it was a team playing a team sport,” says Saints junior forward Katie Frederick. “This season, for me personally, I needed to focus on why I enjoy playing basketball. Instead of focusing on winning, we focused on having fun playing and making memories together. On the court and off the court, there were so many little moments that turned into memories, and everything we did this season we just had fun doing it together.”

The basketball team gathered together for a cheer.

“Katie is a fun player to have on our team,” says head coach Dan Roiger. “Her work ethic and focus have earned her the respect of teammates, which has led to some leadership skills. She is very bright and inquisitive, but also open-minded and humble. Even though Katie is an excellent player, she asks questions on and off the court, and wants to continue growing.”

Frederick’s humility shows when she talks about her teammates. Instead of taking pride in her own accomplishments, her best memories of the season involve great play by her teammates.

“There’s nothing like seeing Olivia Middleton cross someone up and hit Ava McCann for a three-pointer,” says Frederick.

The Sunapee, New Hampshire, native started all 27 games for the Saints this season. She recorded 13 double-doubles, averaging 14.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District, First-Team All-Liberty League, and Liberty League All-Academic honors. Frederick credits her success both on the court and in the classroom to help from her teammates.

“You only have so much time in between classes or before practice, so prioritizing your big commitments is key,” says Frederick. “It’s a huge part of our team culture to focus on our academics just as much as we focus on athletics.” 

With 10 players returning next season, hopes are high that the Saints’ trajectory will continue to rise.

“Next year we get to build off what we learned this year,” says Frederick. “We know what the work ethic and expectations are and we won’t need to start from scratch.” 

Photos by Carol Hill ’79