The New Canaan girls basketball program has certainly thrived under the tutelage of Kim Palmer, who will enter her eighth season as head coach.
Multiple state playoffs, multiple FCIAC tournaments and four consecutive .500 or better seasons from 2009-12 highlight the Rams' recent run of success.
"We're a hard-working team," Palmer said. "From the start of tryouts, every kid has been pushing themselves to get better. I think the kids are buying into the fact that they need to work hard in order to get to that next level."
But after dealing with more than their fair share of graduation losses last year, the Rams struggled to get rolling and concluded their season with a 7-13 mark, including a loss to Fairfield Ludlowe on the final day of the regular season, leaving the them just a single win shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
"Obviously, that was really tough. We had four great seniors graduate last year, so we're just that much more ready to take it this year," senior captain and shooting guard Lindsay Seelert said. "We definitely need to bring up the intensity; we talk about that a lot. Definitely outside shooting (is a strength)."
And while the loss was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, senior captain and forward Ali Reilly seems to believe that it may have rekindled the fire for the Rams in 2013-14.
"That was definitely tough, especially because we had four seniors last year that worked really hard all year, but I don't think that means we won't make it this year," Reilly said. "A lot of times we depended on a couple older seniors, but we have a wide range of talent from freshman to senior, so we just have to figure out a way to make it work."
On Saturday, the Rams took on several teams in a jamboree, and it may have benefitted the young New Canaan squad, which carries only three seniors, the third of which is Tess Decker. Naturally, New Canaan is looking forward to squaring off with Darien in the regular season on Feb. 14 at home, though the Rams admitted that the Blue Wave may have had the upper hand in the jamboree.
"Darien is our rival. We didn't do that well against them in the tournament, but we're excited to get it back," Seelert said. "I think we have a lot of potential going into the season. We obviously didn't do as well as we would have liked to in our first tournament, but really we're just figuring out who works well together, who we're going to put in the leadership roles, who's going to step up."
Whatever the youthful Rams lack in experience, they could potentially make up for in depth. The Rams have a diverse mix of ages, as the varsity squad has three seniors, four juniors, a pair of sophomores and six freshmen. The team's quartet of juniors includes Liz Miller, Marina Braccio, Meaghan Selvaggi and Devin Salvia, and all should log significant minutes.
"We had a big turnout this year in all three levels (varsity, JV and freshman) and there's sort of a competition for spots," Palmer said. "When you have that, practice is elevated to one more level."
"There are going to be a lot of opportunities for young people to step up, and other teams may have no idea who they are," Reilly said. "I think the jamboree made us see a lot of our strengths and weaknesses for the start of the season."
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