On the first weekend of February, Women's Basketball at Kean University stepped onto the court for their first two games of the season. Both against New Jersey City University (NJCU). The Lady Cougars played on Friday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. at home in Harwood Arena and then again on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. away at NJCU.
Kean's basketball season is currently being held in-person but spectators are not permitted to keep in accordance with COVID-19 regulations.
Freshman Brittany Graff played in both of her teams first games of the season. Graff played for 31 minutes Friday and 23 minutes Saturday. Unfortunately, women’s basketball ended up losing to NJCU during both games but not because they did not put up a good fight.
Graff #23 from Elmwood Park, New Jersey, put up 14 points during Friday’s game. She also made seven out of nine free throws, three baskets, one three-pointer and four rebounds. Making her a game leader of her first ever college game.
On Saturday Graff put up six points for her team, making her a game leader once again. She also made two out of four free throws, two baskets and one steal that afternoon.
Graff grew up in a very athletic family which got her into playing all different kinds of sports at a young age. This included basketball of course. In first grade, Graff’s parents signed her up for travel basketball.
“I have been playing ever since,” Graff said.
College basketball had always been in the plan for Graff’s future. She had dreamed since the third grade of stepping onto a college basketball court. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer was always, a college basketball player.
Choosing what college to continue her academic and athletic career was an easy choice for Graff. During her recruiting process Kean’s basketball coaches took a huge interest in her and her skills on the court. This ultimately caused Graff to gravitate towards Kean and their welcoming athletic program.
Graff added, "I loved being on campus and all of the athletic facilities, and the girls on the team were so welcoming.”
On the court Graff plays point guard but off the court, she is an undecided freshman who plans to declare her major in interior design. From this Graff hopes to pursue a career in home design. Believing that after college, basketball will become more of a hobby for her to play with friends and enjoy watching on tv.
Now much has changed for sports due to COVID-19. There are NCAA recommendations as well as state and local guidelines that Kean Athletics must follow to make sure their players and coaches are safe.
“Kean Athletics has taken many precautions such as wearing masks at all times except for when we are physically playing in the game, decreased capacity of people on our buses when we travel, wiping down equipment after athletes use it, we have to get our temperatures and oxygen levels checked daily. Also they adjusted practice and game times to limit the amount of contact we have with other teams," said Graff.
These precautions are necessary but have caused some struggle for the players when adjusting to these new rules. Graff explained that they can no longer use their locker rooms or watch film from past games with her teammates. Their season has also been cut down to only eight conference games.
Graff added, “COVID-19 has made it extremely difficult to communicate on the court. Being the point guard, it is my job to call out the plays, but wearing a mask makes it really hard for my teammates to hear me.”
Besides the current conditions, Graff still plans to have a productive four years at Kean both on and off the court. She hopes to win the NJAC championship alongside her fellow Lady Cougars and looks forward to working towards her degree and career goal.
Speaking about the rest of her first college basketball season, Graff said, “I’m hoping to win all of our upcoming games. It will definitely be a challenge but I know we are always prepared for competition and winning will make all of the hard work pay off.”
Good luck to Graff and the rest of the Lady Cougar’s this basketball season!