Tagliaferri brings stability to MU women this season
A year ago there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Mansfield women's basketball team.
Alison Tagliaferri had taken over as the interim coach of the Mountaineers, but there were no guarantees on who would be the permanent coach.
This year there is no question about coaching at Mansfield as the former MU standout has had the interim tag lifted from her title.
"It's different this year, but it's the same kind of to me to," Tagliaferri said. "My goal last year coming in was to run the program like I was going to get the position."
While she ran things like she was going to get the job, she's excited to have the full-time position now and she knows it will help a lot with recruiting in the future. One of the challenges going into this season was trying to recruit while she still had the interim tag.
"We have two people early signed for next year and I hope to get two more that I've been working on," Tagliaferri said.
One thing that will make this season easier for Tagliafferi is having some talented players returning to the lineup.
"I'm very excited about the returning players," she said. "Jena Matter, Katie Fitzpatrick, Alyssa DeRichie and Megan McSwain. Those players I think could all fight for all-conference.
While there were some challenges recruiting this year, the Mountaineers still landed a talented class of newcomers.
"I'm definitely excited to have some of them aboard," Tagliafferi said. "The players in this class come in and we are looking for consistency from them. Maria (Kelleher) is someone we will be looking to fill Kayla's (Espigh)role as a shooter. Adding Tianna Jackson, she was a very good point guard in high school."
One of the challenges for Mansfield right now is getting over some injuries.
"We are dealing with some injuries right now," Tagliaferri said. "Katie Yale is dealing with a little injury right now, but we hope to have her back soon and she's another player we expect to help. We are looking at her as more off an offensive threat now."
A year ago Yale was a walk-on who eventually worked herself into a regular role with the Mountaineers.
"I'm a lot more confident this season than I was last year," Yale said. "It's definitely a different role now. I'm not just the walk-on now. We have a lot of new players and some returning players. I think we are going to be a better team."
For Tagliaferri the path Yale took from walk-on to working hard and earning playing time is something she hopes will motivate other players.
"That's what we are trying to get everyone to bring day in and day out," Tagliafferi said of the effort that Yale brought.
Because of the injuries on the team, and with so many new faces, the Mountaineers are expecting a lot from their younger players.
"Right now the big thing is the freshmen need to grow up on the floor," Tagliaferri said. "They have the potential, but they need to show they can handle it at this level."
While Tagliaferri expects a lot from returners Matter, Fitzpatrick, DeRichie and McSwain, the other returning players know they have to take on bigger roles to.
"She definitely expects a lot from me on the defensive end, and now on the offensive end to," Yale said.
While Matter is the one returning player who played in the post last year, there will be some other returning players getting time there this year.
"You will see more of Katie Fitzpatrick in the four position," Tagliaferri said. "She actually will take pressure off Jenna. Katie played the three position last year, but she's a good rebounder and she's a tough matchup for other players with her athleticism.
"Bridget (Carney) did a great job this summer and has improved in the areas she needs to improve on. Devon Tenant from Cortland, she definitely should help as well."
For the players, one big thing this year is knowing that things won't change at the coaching position.
"To know she is our coach 100 percent, and she is going to be around is great," Yale said. "I'm glad I don't have to start over with a new coach and that the coach that saw something in me is still here."