After a 79-67 win at Omaha Saturday the WIU women’s basketball team are winners of four in a row and are 12-13 on the year, a far cry from the 5-12 team fans saw back in mid January.
The biggest reason for the Leathernecks turn around didn’t happen in a game, a practice or even a team meeting.
No, it happened online.
Head Coach JD Gravina said, “If I had to say a moment it was probably my 3 am email after we lost to Eastern Illinois.
It was just kind of one of those nights where I couldn’t sleep.”
For Western Illinois the wheels of a their seasons turn around began just after 230 am on December 7th.
The Leathernecks were 3-7 and coming off a disappointing two point defeat. Then Head Coach JD Gravina clicked send.
Senior guard Taylor Higginbotham, “It just shows you how much that he cares. That he’s invested.
That he’s thinking about what we can do and how we can try to make us a better team that we know that we could be.
It made us realize that he’s not doubting us still.”
Junior point guard Olivia Kaufmann said, ” I read it and I was like wow. Playing for a coach that cares that much, you want to win for him.
You kind of feel like you’re letting them down. It gets to the point you don’t really care about the outside world.
It’s like the people in your circle that you feel bad letting down and stuff like that.”
Gravina’s email didn’t hold back. He wanted his team to play scrapier and run harder, but it ended with a vow.
I’m not going to give up on you. I promise. Let’s fight for each other.
Gravina said, “It was just kind of about trying to have a care free attitude and know that we’re at rock bottom and there’s nowhere to go but up.”
9-6 since Gravina’s email and 7-1 in their last 8 games, the Leathernecks are clicking at the right time with four games left in the regular season and they’ve figured out who they are.
Junior guard Annabelle Graettinger said, “We realize that we kind of had to play chippier than last year.
I think we’ve stepped up our scarpiness and just really trying to compete every single possession and I think that’s been a big difference for us.”
But let’s just find ourselves.
Let’s push and score. Let’s play hard and scrap.
Let’s crawl up that mountain we are on.Western isn’t at the top yet, but they’ve covered a lot of ground at the expense of one night of sleep for Gravina.
Next up for WIU is the top team in the Summit League, South Dakota next Saturday.