LAWRENECEVILLE — Nobody wants success for the Rider women’s program more than Lynn Milligan.
The head coach, now in her sixth season, is trying to put her alma mater back on the college-basketball map.
“This is a special place for me, having played here and worn the uniform,” Milligan said. “I want it to be the best.”
The Broncs have been far from that over the past five seasons. They
are 38-113 overall, 20-70 in the MAAC and 0-5 in the conference
But Milligan knew the type of job she was walking into when she
accepted it. There was a building process that was going to take time.
“Do I feel like we’re building a program the right way? Yes,” she
said. “Do I wish it happened faster? Yes. I am happy with what we’ve
done and with the steps we’ve taken.
“We’ve hit a couple roadblocks that some we didn’t have control over
and some we probably did. But as far as building this program and having
the type of players we want in this program, I’m thrilled.”
If last season was any indication, there is some optimism. Rider
started 8-3 before being ravaged by injuries and going 3-15 in the MAAC.
Still, its 11 wins were the most under Milligan.
The Broncs return several experienced upperclassmen, including junior
MyNeshia McKenzie, senior Caitlin Bopp and graduate student Carleigh
McKenzie, a preseason Second-Team selection, led the conference in
rebounding (9.1) and averaged 10.1 points per game. Bopp averaged 9.2
points and 7.3 rebounds per game and was a preseason Third-Team pick.
Brown has made 64 career starts.
Other key contributors are sophomore Emily Fazzini (7.1 ppg) and senior point guard Sironda Chambers (10 ppg).
“We’re a veteran team this year and we haven’t had that in a while,”
Milligan said. “We have seniors and juniors who have played a lot of
minutes and they are ready to go. The seniors have set their
expectations really high and they are working really hard to get there.”
All that experience means little if it doesn’t translate into wins.
For the players’ part, they’re ready to prove people wrong.
“We are doubted every year by people,” Bopp said. “I’ve dealt with
that for three years and I’m not dealing with it for my fourth year. I’m
sick of it. I’m just ready to prove everyone wrong and we’re going to
do it this year.”
Rider begins the season Friday night at Stony Brook before opening the home slate on Nov. 12 against NJIT.