The Yellowjackets lost five seniors from a year ago, representing about 35 points and 20 rebounds per game, but what Head Coach Anthony Russell feels is the biggest change is the overall team size.
"We went from being one of the biggest teams in the SCC to where now we're one of the smallest teams in the SCC," he said. "The dynamic has changed. We're not a team that can pound the ball inside anymore and get into a half court game. We're a team that's smaller, a little bit quicker, and more guard laden. We have to make the game more up-tempo and have our defense create some of our offense."
The three seniors-Jenna Gaudioso, Jill Korwek,, and Kayla Campano-are the three captains this season on a team that's looking for its identity. Russell said he has 11 or 12 players that he's confident putting on the floor in a varsity situation, but nobody other than Gaudioso has defined their role.
He's hoping Korwek will develop into the scorer he sees her being, that guard Tori Carlson, Jessica Benevento, and Briana Wiel take control of the perimeter, and that Miranda Gladwin, Dana Ross, and Campano provide minutes and scoring from the interior.
East Haven lost to No. 3 Mercy 60-29 to open the year, but Russell didn't believe his squad played a bad game. Gaudioso led the way for the club, scoring eight points and collecting 12 boards.
"I thought we played pretty well. We just didn't shoot the ball really well and we had turnovers in very crucial spots," Russell said. "Against a team like Mercy, you kind of have to be perfect. You have to do everything well in order to even have a shot against them."
On Dec. 13, the Yellowjackets were bested by Hillhouse, 52-30. They lost the game right before the half and throughout the third quarter as they were outscored 25-5 in a 10-minute span. East Haven played a sloppy game as well, missing its free throws and turning the ball over 34 times.
"If you're going to turn the ball over that many times and you're not going to hit free throws, you're not putting yourself in a good situation to win the game," Russell said. "The fact that we're starting slow this year against Mercy and Hillhouse, who are normally perennial powers; I'm not hitting the panic button. Hopefully next week when we play Hamden and Guilford, we can be more competitive than we were in the first week."