By ALEX SPONSELLER Two Johnston natives are getting set to lead the UMass-Dartmouth Corsairs in the upcoming women’s basketball season.
Junior Jordan Moretti, who has become a key member of UMD’s back court during her first two seasons, has welcomed freshman Kaylin Zalewski into the mix this year. Zalewski was one of the most prolific scorers in Johnston High School history, recording over 1,000 points. The duo look to team up and wreak havoc on the rest of the conference this coming winter.
At the moment, the team is unable to practice in person due to the ongoing pandemic, however, they have been having virtual team meetings and small-scale workouts. The hope is for the season to start in January, so the two are setting their sights on improving each day until then.
“We’re all doing our own individual stuff so when we are able to come together, we will be ready to go. It has definitely been a weird year, we’re not used to this, but having the experience from the first two years has helped a lot. We know that we will have to pick things up right where we would be midway through the season,” said Moretti, who hopes to improve both on and off the court entering her third collegiate season. “This offseason I put in the work, I have been working out with my trainer. I just wanted to work on my mental game, not get down on myself, there is no room for that. I have been working on my shooting and ball handling. We’ll be alright, we’re all excited to be back and to be playing together again. A lot of us have not met each other yet, so we’re excited to get back out there together.”
Zalewski is looking forward to getting her feet wet at the next level and already feels at home at UMD.
“I’ve met all of (my teammates) but it’s obviously been hard with the pandemic, we haven’t been able to get together as a whole team yet. They’re great, it’s amazing, it’s a family. They were all so welcoming, especially Jordan. They really made sure to make me feel welcomed so it is a nice environment,” said Zalewski, who is also looking forward to working with Moretti. “I’m really looking forward to playing with her. She understands the upbringing in Johnston and we have this psychic understanding.”
Moretti is also looking forward to getting to work with Zalewski, who impressed her during her high school career with the Panthers.
“It’s cool having another girl from my hometown. When I would go back to the high school I would see her and it was exciting. During the recruiting process I told her that we came from the same town and if she came here, we could do some cool stuff. (Former Johnston coach) Chris Corsinetti’s play was fast and up and down the court and that is the same with (UMD) Coach (Matt) Ducharme, he loves that fast pace, so she’ll be ready for that,” said Moretti. “I know when I was a freshman that I would always look up to the upperclassmen, I know how they feel. I’ll always be there to help them.”
As the season opener closes in, Zalewski hopes to catch on quickly and to earn some playing time early in the year.
“It’s going to be a tougher pace, more organization, but I think I’ll be ready for it. The preparation that coach is already putting us through, I think we’ll be good. I think spacing and communication in general will be important,” Zalewski said. “I’m new to the team so I have a lot to catch up on. A lot of these girls have been playing together for awhile, so it’s just a matter of getting to know them and being on the same page.”