Halloween has come and gone, which means that winter sports at Fairleigh Dickinson University are about to start up their seasons.
Most winter sport teams have already begun preseason practices, including the FDU women’s basketball team.
The Devils are coming off of one of their best seasons in school history. They went 24-4 on the season, including being crowned Middle Athletic Conference (MAC) champions, and they also earned a berth in the Division III NCAA playoffs.
“We learned a lot from last year,” said Head Coach Marc Mitchell. “This year we want to go out and beat teams. We saw from the Widener game that we have to be able to score more, play better on defense, and most importantly, get better at rebounding the ball.”
Mitchell is entering his fifth season at the helm, after starting his career as an assistant coach at Caldwell College.
After two tough seasons as head coach of the Devils, Mitchell has led the Devils to a combined 37-17 record over the past two seasons and has guided the program to be ranked 15th in the Women’s DIII News Preseason Top 25 poll.
Mitchell said, “It’s the recruiting and recruiting the right players to come here. We want kids that fit our system. We want players that have great character on and off the court, that want to excel in the classroom, and have goals of winning championships.”
Those players have mostly come from this year’s junior class, which includes twin sisters Kyra and Kara Dayon.
Kyra Dayon, a junior forward, had a great season last year for the Devils. She earned First Team All MAC honors and was named the Freedom Conference player of the year.
“Our goal is first to win the MAC, make it to the NCAA, and hopefully take it further,” she said.
Kyra Dayon, who was named one of the top 24 players to watch by the Women’s DIII News, said her personal goals for this season are to “do better than I did last year, always improve, and just do anything I can to help the team win.”
Kara Dayon, a junior guard, will also be a key contributor to the Devils squad.
“We’re looking pretty good,” she said. “We have a lot of weapons this year’s team and as a team we feel can make to the NCAA again and hopefully win it.”
The Devils bring back their whole roster from last year, which is a big help towards their chemistry on the court.
Kyra Dayon said, “It definitely helps us in our team chemistry. Since we didn’t lose anybody, everybody knows where everybody will be on the floor, how they like the ball different things like that, their shot and just chemistry overall.”
The chemistry for the Devils, though, doesn’t just come from playing on the court, but bonding off the court.
“We bond on the court, off the court, we’re a big family and that helps build chemistry when we all play together,” Kara Dayon said.
The team also has added four new players, including transfer student Shalette Brown. Brown, a sophomore forward, transferred to FDU from Montclair State University. She was the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and Division 3 Atlantic Region Rookie of the Year and will be a great contribution to the team, Mitchell said.
With the team being made up of veterans and newcomers, the Devils are set up to have a great season and not to just be a threat to win the MAC, but also to win a NCAA Division III National Championship.
The Devils open up their first game of the 2013-2014 season on Nov. 15 against St. Joseph’s College (Long Island) at the Hunter College Hawks Tip-Off Tournament in New York City.