By G. Michael Graham
Before Chloe Jansen suited up for the NCAA Division III Mount Saint Joseph University Lions women's basketball team, Head Coach Dan Benjamin said he told one of her Amateur Athletic Union coaches she'd earn the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year award.
One of the best games for Jansen came in a 79-56 home victory over Manchester University (North Manchester, Indiana) when she scored 23 points making 7-of-7 free-throw attempts. Jansen also had five rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
Benjamin said Jansen did a good job taking over the point guard position and becoming the floor general the team needed after learning the process of the college game the first six, seven games. The team made her a captain after the season.
"I watched Chloe at Highlands and she was a phenomenal player," Benjamin said. "You could see the experience she carried on the floor as a senior and confidence she had with her teammates. You could see her swag and that's what we liked about her. She brought that to the Mount. I think her leadership is only going to continue to grow."
Jansen said MSJ likes to run a lot. The Lions play a lot of man-to-man defense with some zone and a motion offense that is designed to create for players and their teammates.
"It goes by really fast," Jansen said. "But you have to be able to think on your feet, not be so narrow-minded and be able to pick up any situation that can happen, especially if you're in any position on the court. But I feel playing for (Highlands Head Coach Jaime Walz-Richey) helped with that aspect in college."
The Lions have had just winning season since the 2010-11 season going 14-12 in 2018-19. The Lions graduated three players off that time. Mount Saint Joseph finished 7-18 last year including a 6-12 mark in HCAC play good for a three-way tie for seventh out of 10 teams. The top six teams make the conference tournament.
Jansen came in with three other freshmen. The team also had no seniors, four juniors and three sophomores. All but three players are from Cincinnati or one of the suburbs. Jansen is the lone player from Kentucky.
"Coach Benjamin implied the freshmen had to take a step up and he understood how much of a transition it would be for us," Jansen said. "The juniors and sophomores took us underneath their wings, were very understanding what was happening and helped us get acclimated to what their system is. We knew we were going to hit a few speed bumps on the road. We were hoping for a better season, but I feel like this upcoming season will be much better since we have our foundation now."
Jansen knew she had to build trust with her new teammates. Benjamin said he liked how the team chemistry came together this past season.
"We had some fund raising for over the summer coming into my first year of college so I met them there," Jansen said. "I also went for open gyms and that's kind of where we built our relationships. We also had some team bonding before the season so that helped a lot. The progression into the season of being able to be open to each other helped a lot."
Benjamin said what the players do in the off-season will determine whether the team takes more steps forward next season. Jansen said she wants to finish around the rim better and continue to craft her skills of creating shots for herself and her teammates.
"At the D-III level you can only do so many things in the summer. You can't really coach them. You can't even call them and ask them, 'Hey. Are you working out? That's against the rules," Benjamin noted. "It's all on them. It's tough. Some girls go home and they don't push themselves. That's what's hurt us in the past from getting over that hump of winning more than nine, 10 games. They have to do that. I think Chloe is that type of girl. She'll bring that along with my other two captains. We've surrounded her with some good talent in front of her and now we're going to surround her with some good talent behind her."
Jansen is majoring in Health and Wellness. She had to attend study tables in the fall but not the spring because she met the requirements for it.
"Highlands is intense with academics so that helped a lot. The work outside the classroom helped," Jansen said. "The classes at Highlands compared to The Mount in just how we have to be able to pick up our public speaking skills and be able to be open to each others' opinions into consideration really helped because that's what we did a lot at Highlands in classes."
MSJ President Doctor H. James Williams recently announced the plans for students to return to campus in the fall. He said the school has been heavily monitoring the situation regarding Coronavirus 2019.