“I think as a head coach you always have a list of schools that would intrigue you if they came open, obviously for me William and Mary was on that list,” Swanson said. “It afforded me the opportunity to coach what I believe are the true student-athletes – kids who value academic success as much as athletic success. This job enables me to coach at a higher level and test my system in a great conference.”
Swanson built quite the résumé in his 23 seasons at Sacred Heart. He amassed 406 career victories, which ranks 40th among active Division I coaches, and won four Northeast Conference Coach of Year Awards. He led the Pioneers to at least 18 wins each of the last 12 seasons. Individually, he coached 19 players to all-conference awards. This season, Swanson will lean on that success to help him build the foundation of his program at William and Mary.
“Through the years I’ve learned you can never get too high or too low,” said Swanson. “The players, my staff, and I understand that it is going to be a process in building this program. We recognize the importance of building a great foundation this season. Patience is going to be a big key, because you can’t rush success.”
On the court, the Green and Gold will be an up-tempo basketball team that plays aggressively for the entire 94 feet of the court. The goal is that the defense will lead to baskets on the offensive end.
“I am going to use the same blueprint that I have used my entire career,” Swanson said. “I am going to focus the style of play around our skill set, built around defense. The end result will produce a team that is willing to get after it and is fun to watch.”
The Tribe’s 28-game schedule features a possibility of facing 10 teams that played during the 2013 postseason. The non-conference slate also features a pair of regular season tournaments, the Maine Thanksgiving Tournament and Cyclone Challenge, both of which will give the Green and Gold a chance to play in a tournament setting before starting conference play.
“From the start of the season, with two road games, we are going to be in thick of it,” said Swanson. “However, we want to challenge ourselves before we get into our conference schedule. This schedule will be a test for us night-in and night- out.”
As always, the Colonial Athletic Association will be jam-packed with good basketball teams. Delaware, who is the two-time defending champion, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen a season ago while Drexel won the WNIT in 2012.
“I am looking forward to testing my system against some of the best teams in the country, and the CAA provides me the opportunity to do just that,” Swanson said. “There are no easy nights in the CAA. Right now, we are going to be the annoying little sister, but one day, in the near future, we are looking to contend for the title.”
Through the years, Swanson has realized some things that are keys to successful seasons. Some of these are out of his control such as injuries; but others like attitudes are a matter of desire and will.
“We just have to keep building throughout the season,” said Swanson. “If things are not going our way we cannot lose confidence. I am pleased with where we are right now and we have to continue moving forward from there. We may have lost some of our top scorers from last year, but we have players who can replace them. I think our style of play will help. We might not have the better players each night, but our goal will also be to always be the better team.”
This year’s roster features a group of five upperclassmen. As a group, Swanson will call on all of them to be the team’s leaders.
“We have not named captains yet, but some of my best teams did not have captains,” Swanson said. “However, the leadership has been great. Both the junior and senior classes have been great every step of the way. If we were to name captains, we would have no shortage of candidates.”
Since arriving on campus in Williamsburg, Swanson and his staff have hit the ground running, and aided by new NCAA regulations, the coaching staff was able to work out the team multiple times this summer.
“This was the first summer the NCAA allowed coaches to have access to players and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Swanson said. “Practices this summer allowed us to implement things, as well as evaluate what we had at every position. Outside of practice we were also able to build relationships with our players.”
Junior Anna Kestler is the only returning point guard for the Tribe this season. A year ago, the Pittsburgh, Pa. native appeared in all 30 games, making 16 starts. Kestler dished out a team-high 84 assists, while chipping in 1.8 points a game.
Freshmen Alexis Hofstaedter and Latrice Hunter will also fit into the mix at point guard. Hofstaedter comes to W&M from Council Rock South High School in Pennsylvania, where she garnered second-team all-state honors. Hunter, who is from Norfolk, helped Norfolk Christian to three state championships during her career and finished last year averaging 24 points-a-night.
Kerstetter appeared in all 30 games for the W&M last season, averaging 6.0 points-per-game. The Brentwood, Tenn. native, who is a scrappy, aggressive player also grabbed 2.4 boards per contest and totaled 34 thefts.
Boone also played in all 30 contests and finished last season just behind Kerstetter at 5.9 points-per-game. A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Boone dished out 76 assists in 2012-13, collected 64 rebounds, and had 47 steals.
Another factor at the wing position will be senior Victoria Willems. Willems, who played in six games last season, has looked stong in preseason practices. Sophomore Chloe Alexander, and freshmen Alexandra Masaquel and Marlena Tremba will provide depth for the Tribe at the guard position. Alexander, a walk-on, was a four-year varsity starter at Loomish Chaffee High School in Connecticut. Masaquel, a true freshman, was named to the Hawaii all-state team three years in high school. Tremba, also a true freshman, garnered first team All-WCAC honors in 2012 and 2013.
Senior Kaitlyn Mathieu returns to the post this season, and the Green and Gold will look for her to move the ball inside and out. Mathieu, who averaged 4.6 points and 3.9 rebounds last year, was a CAA All-Rookie selection in 2011.
A counter-part down low will be sophomore Brooke Stewart. Stewart saw limited action a season ago, and will be used as a hybrid forward and move between the three and four positions. The Topsfield, Mass. native averaged 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in 22 games, but only averaged six minutes a game.
Providing valuable depth at the forward position will be sophomore Jamie Revels and freshman Kasey Curtis. Revels, who is in her second season with the Tribe, was a highly touted high school player who led her team to the state semifinals in her senior season. Curtis finished her senior season averaging 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per contest.
The only true center listed on the roster is junior Mackenzie Morrison, who is set to take a more permanent role in the line up. Morrison, who has seen limited action is coming off a great summer, and has caught the eye of the coaching staff. Morrison has appeared in 19 career games with her first collegiate start coming last season at Pittsburgh.
The Tribe opens its 2013-14 campaign on Monday, Nov. 11 when they trek to Farmville, Va. to take on Longwood. Tipoff between the Tribe and Lancers is set for 7 p.m.