Amber Whiting and BYU women’s basketball understand their identity in final weeks of the season
Establishing a culture and identity is essential as a head coach, and BYU women’s basketball head coach Amber Whiting feels that she and her team are accomplishing that in her first year at the helm.
As the first regular season for women’s basketball under Whiting comes to an end, the team is excited at the chance to continue learning and growing–and maybe winning while doing so.
“I feel like we have learned to stick together,” Whiting said. “We have learned each other, first of all, and then we have learned to stick together through hard times, especially in the early season because they could have gone their own separate ways and just chalked it up, but they’ve stuck together, and we’ve found our identity in defense, and we’ve been playing for each other which helps a lot.”
This year’s team certainly has undergone tough times. After a rough 1-4 start, BYU was struggling to find a rythym, but the players stuck with Whiting’s plan for the future and believed in what she could accomplish.
“Amber coming and taking this role, she’s shown a lot of toughness through it all,” junior Forward Lauren Gustin said. Gustin has become a leader for Coach Whiting’s team as she currently leads the nation in rebounds and is second in the land in double-doubles, but sophomore Guard Nani Falatea has also stepped up to help the new coach undergo her first year.
“I think such a big part of who Amber is and what she’s trying to kind of engrain in our minds is that we’re going to be tougher than everyone that we play,” Falatea said, “and I think that’s something that we’ve emulated over the past couple weeks especially.”
BYU women’s basketball has been on a great run since the ugly start. In the middle stretch of the season and beginning of conference play, the team won 8 of 10 games including 2 wins against Saint Mary’s and while the team earned some excellent wins against WCC foes, they are eager for the chance at redemption against the conference teams they didn’t perform well against, which included the likes of Portland, Gonzaga, and Santa Clara.
“I think we all just have to come in even more focused,” Gustin said. “You know, when we played against them we didn’t have our best games I felt like, so it is kind of exciting to know that we weren’t playing our best selves.”
Coach Whiting seemed to agree with her star player as she said, ” I feel like against Santa Clara we set back and let them do what they wanted to do instead of us enforcing our will, and with Portland same thing. Gonzaga was a really good game for us still, but then we had the letdown in Portland, so I feel like just going in with that mindset—finish the weekend, play each game, just one game at a time is what I’m trying to keep them at.”
This team seems to be undoubtedly excited for the final games of the season. Not for chances of redemption or for seeding in the conference tournament, but for a chance to continue to prove their identity of toughness, defense, and resilience.