Mariah Linney is a senior point guard at Charlotte. Since joining the team her freshman year, she is now one of the oldest players on the team with the most seniority and is looked upon as a leader for the team.
Recently, Linney was named to the preseason All-Conference USA team. She is the only player from Charlotte to be named to the team and she can be credited with being selected due to her leading in minutes played and three-pointers made.
“It’s truly a blessing,” said Linney. “It really kind of caught me off guard because I didn’t think that a lot of other people saw the things that I did last year. It motivates me.”
While juggling this recent accomplishment, she also has to juggle taking on a leadership role for the team. She is one of the three senior players on the team so the underclassmen are looking to her for some guidance for the upcoming season.
Linney says that it has been challenging since she has never been the type to be a vocal leader, but she knows and is aware that her team needs her to be more vocal. It has also given her confidence because her teammates trust her. She is going to have to step up to the plate in order to be the leader that they need her to be.
The fourth-year senior is also aware that her seniority and level of experience can benefit the team in the upcoming season. This can be applied to not just helping out the underclassmen during practice, but also while playing on the court against their opponents.
“I think experience always benefits somebody’s position because you really know how everything is gonna go so like the pace of the game is much different of what I know now than when I came in as a freshman so your experience means a lot,” said Linney.
Even though she does have experience and playing abilities that can benefit her team as they play against their opponents, she also recognizes that there are improvements that she wants to make as a player.
One of the improvements that Linney wants to make is being a more consistent shooter, especially when she is being contested. She also wants to work on being a better scorer compared to her previous years of playing basketball for the team since she believes that is what her team needs from her this season.
Along with this, she wants to be able to learn everything that she needs to know in order to be the best player that she can be, not just for herself, but also while she is on the court playing with her teammates.
“I do believe that I am learning to be the best player because I feel like the best player still has things to learn,” said Linney. “The best player should never be satisfied so they’re always learning and always getting better and always willing to get better.”
Outside of working on her abilities and utilizing her experience to benefit the team, this season is not going to be a normal season for basketball due to COVID-19 and sports have been affected by the pandemic. Nevertheless, Linney and her teammates have been preparing for this season and making adjustments when needed along with the guidance from Head Coach Cara Consuegra.
“Everything got pushed back so we started practicing later,” said Linney. “We gotta learn how to play with each other quicker than normal, playing a lot in practice and I think Coach Cara does a good job of that.”
Although the season may be different compared to previous years due to the pandemic, there are some things that people should watch out for when they play this season.
Linney says that they have a lot more depth on the bench where they can play all players because everyone works hard. They are also well-balanced in terms of their abilities which will make it harder for their opponents can't focus on a single player.
In preparation for this season, Linney and her teammates have focused on what their mindset is going to be and it has remained consistent while Linney has played for the team.
Their mindset for the past three years has been the obstacle is the way, and this is especially true when navigating through the pandemic. As players, they can only control what they can control and that has to be their focus. If anything were to happen that is out of their control, they have to be able to deal with it and push through it all.
One of her most important lessons while being on the team, and she has learned a lot of lessons, is the same obstacle that she has had to overcome which is her confidence.
“It’s something that I struggle with and still to this day but, something that pushes me is when other people believe in me because if I don't have confidence in myself, everything changes,” said Linney.
Even with confidence being her most important lesson and obstacle that she has had to overcome while being on the team, basketball has taught her something that carries over into other areas of her life.
Accountability transfers over into the real world, and Linney has recognized that. It is in everyday life and it is really important when it comes to basketball.
With their season being just around the corner, and even with having to adjust with the pandemic, the team is already very well aware of what the goals for the team are.
“Same as every season: win a Conference USA championship,” said Linney.