SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara women's basketball went on a foreign trip to Costa Rica from Aug. 1-8, playing three games and getting a chance to tour the area.
The Broncos won all three games, topping the Costa Rica National Team 76-46 and 63-44 and Club Coronado 119-34.
Head coach Bill Carr, entering his third year at the helm of the Broncos, reflected on the tour and how it helped the team heading into the 2018-19 season.
"Well I always thought these trips were important from a team perspective," Carr said. "You get eight or nine days together in a foreign country and you become closer. You also get 10 days of practice before you go and that always helps the development of a team before an upcoming season. Then we got to play three games. A lot of the kids got court time and experience. We had transfers and freshman that needed to be in there. Overall, it was a great experience."
With a pair of freshmen and four transfers, three of whom sat out last season due to NCAA rules, the Broncos used their court time to build chemistry with each other.
"Lauren [Yearwood], Erika [Meyer], and Joe [Joeseta Fatuesi] hadn't played in a while so it was good to get them back on the floor and get some of the nerves out of the way," Carr said. "That is why you go to Costa Rica in August. You get some of those things out of the way that you see in early November. So they're back in the flow of things. For Lexie [Pritchard] and Lindsey [VanAllen], it's an opportunity to play with new teammates, get a feel for our system, and again get their nerves out of the way."
With so many new players getting comfortable in the system, the returners have to play a big role, especially early in the year and the trip allowed them a chance to show what they can do.
"I thought the leadership from the returners was really good throughout the whole trip," Carr said. "Not only on the basketball floor, even off the floor in how we just do things. Ashlyn [Herlihy], Tamia [Braggs], Nay [Naomi Jimenez], and Dru [Toleafoa] all had really good moments during the games in Costa Rica. We put them together with the transfers, the new kids, and bring back some of the girls that were hurt. I really like where we're headed."
Once Santa Clara got to suit up against an opposing team, Carr saw positives that bode well for the upcoming season.
"Something I was really looking for was building the team, and I saw a lot of good team things while we were in Costa Rica, meaning we passed and shared the ball really well, acknowledged the passer on shots, and communicated well on the floor," Carr said. "Execution on offense was okay. Defensively, we didn't work as much as we're going to here in the fall. But, I saw a lot of good things when it came down to just being a really good team on the floor."
A benefit to playing games this early is that the team can now watch film and see where they need to improve before the games begin to count.
"Coming out of the games, we certainly have some things we can show the girls that we need to work on," Carr said. "On the flipside, we can see where we are doing well. I really feel like we are ahead, coming into late September when we start practicing. Right now we can jump in and fix somethings and really start dialing in on our defense, getting better on execution on offense, and be ready for early November for when we start playing games."
While the trip provided much needed basketball experience, it also allowed the team to bond off the court.
"These trips are amazing," Carr said. "You go down and play three games but in our case, we also got to spend three days on the beach in Costa Rica. Groups got to go ziplining, horseback riding, and spend time on the beach. As a team, we were able to pick a catamaran ride and snorkel off the boat. We were lucky enough to see a couple of humpback whales on our ride back in. It was just nice to see the group together, the friendships they're building, and the closeness that is happening."
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