By Noel Sanchez and Tyrie Lane, Nov. 7, 2023
Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball Broncos are in the early stages of preparing for their 2023-2024 season and aim to make noise in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The Broncos finished last year with an overall record of 18-11, and with numerous returning players leading the way. Their goals include capturing as many victories as possible while also forging a strong connection with their new roster.
Danelle Bishop is entering her 13th season as women’s basketball head coach, and her impact has been clear since day one: The Broncos have posted winning seasons during her tenure in all but two years.
With five freshmen on the roster this season, Bishop recognizes the importance of getting them acclimated into the team’s system right off the jump.
“We look for individuals who show commitment and buy into the everyday responsibilities that we have,” said Bishop. “One of the big things I pride my players on is consistency and finding the right routine day in and day out. You don’t want to be on a rollercoaster every day because then that will translate into the season. It’s early right now, and they’re all already on an amazing track right now.”
Bishop identified half-court defense and ball movement as areas of the game the Broncos are focusing on during their first weeks of practices together. She always urges her team to put forth full effort on the defensive end as she knows the scoring will come later as a result.
Another aspect Bishop wants the team to focus on is pushing the pace on fast break opportunities, which goes hand-in-hand with getting stops on defense as the players are then able to push the ball ahead for easy baskets in transition.
CPP ranked fifth in the CCAA last season in total points per game with an average of 66. On the other side, the Broncos allowed their opponents to score 63 points per game. Bishop and the rest of the coaching staff want to see the latter number decrease this season.
“Defense has always been our bread and butter,” said Bishop. “If you talk to any coach that has been successful for a while, it is typically defense that has gotten them there.”
Along with the five incoming freshmen, CPP also has four new guards transferring in to bolster backcourt depth.
Andrea Stajic, a six-foot guard from Arroyo Grande, most recently played one season for the Cal Poly Mustangs and recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds total in a limited role during her first collegiate season. She looks forward to a fresh start at CPP and has already found delight in getting accustomed to the new system.
“Coming in as a transfer there’s obviously a lot of adjustment that follows with that,” Stajic said. “Alongside adjusting, I find myself very excited to be here at CPP. This off season has allowed me to get to know the great team and staff around me as well as push me to be an even better player as a huge common ground shared is accountability.”
Stajic understands that as a guard, she is essentially the coach on the floor and must ensure her teammates are in the right place for the offense to run smoothly.
The Broncos approached each game last season with a selfless mindset on both ends of the court, and fans who attended matches were able to watch them thrive down the stretch as multiple players usually touched the ball every possession.
Stajic looks to fit right into this system and shared some of her personal goals for the 2023-2024 campaign.
“The team would like to win as many games in our league as possible, No. 1,” said Stajic. “And No. 2 would be to have an opportunity to play in the tournament later in the year while also just having a great time.”
Another player looking to step up this season is Kayla Keshmeshian, a transfer point guard from Nicholls State University.
She emphasized the welcoming environment not only from the coaching staff but also her teammates.
“I can only be thankful that we have such a great staff here at CPP with the continuous work we continue to implement on the court and being able to transition being a leader off the court is a role I am looking to practice as we continue our competitive basketball journey,” said Keshmeshian.
CPP women’s basketball kicks off their season off Friday, Nov. 10 against Point Loma Nazarene University. Students can catch the team’s season opener and all future games on the CCAA Network.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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