MEDFORD - Post-season basketball starts this weekend, and the Jumbo women's team once again seem poised to make a strong playoff run. Tufts is 22-1 overall heading into its final regular-season game against Hamilton on Wednesday night at Cousens Gym.
As usual under head coach Carla Berube, defensive play has been a key to the Jumbos' success. Tufts is ranked second nationally in scoring defense as of February 10 allowing 43.0 points per game. No one sets the tone for the team on defense better than senior co-captain Bre Dufault (Hampden, MA).
"Bre is one of the finest defensive players we have ever had," head coach Carla Berube said. "She's capable of guarding all five positions and is always tasked with defending the opposing team's best post player."
Currently sixth in NESCAC with 39 steals, Dufault also contributes 6.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. She also provides excellent leadership as a captain of the Jumbos both this season and last.
An aspiring dentist and Academic All-Region nominee, GoTuftsJumbos.com recently caught up with Bre to talk defense and more as our next In Focus feature:
Coach Berube stresses defensive play and the results have been outstanding as the team is ranked second in the country for scoring defense. How would you describe the team’s defensive style?
BD - Coach has always emphasized defense as the team's foundation. We strictly play man-to-man defense with a style that could be described as a high energy, in-your-face type defense, with a help rotation. All five players on the court have to be aware of their man, the ball, and any possible rotations to be made to anticipate the offense's next move. Our team stresses ball pressure, constant movement, and constant communication.
You were a very good soccer player in high school who decided to focus on basketball at college. What were the reasons behind this decision?
BD - First and foremost, I knew that I wanted to focus my college decision on my education. When I was being recruited for soccer I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue playing sports at the collegiate level if it was going to interfere with that. Playing basketball at a NESCAC school provided me with a win-win situation. I wanted a school with a great pre-med track and Tufts is known for its strong science department, and after speaking with Coach Berube I could tell that I agreed with her style of coaching and competitive play, while she assured me that academics always come first.
What has inspired you to pursue a career in dentistry?
BD - Actually, I originally wanted to pursue a career in medicine. As I explored the field, I spoke to a number of different people including advisors, doctors, and family members about the many possibilities after Tufts. After these conversations and shadowing, I seemed to gravitate more towards dental medicine. I love the idea of helping people to feel more self-confident, as well as taking on the tasks of preventative and restorative care. I enjoy working with my hands and the familial atmosphere of a dental practice, as compared to the sometimes-impersonal environment of a big hospital.
What brought you to Tufts from Hampden, MA/Minnechaug Regional HS
BD - Being able to play a sport that I love at a school that had a reputation of an excellent science department was what enticed me to come to Tufts. I was excited to be close enough to home - only about an hour and a half drive) that my mom, who is definitely my number one fan, could come to as many basketball games as she wanted. After visiting, I thought that Tufts had a beautiful campus and close-knit feel. Coming from a small, rural town I also looked forward to the easy access to Boston and entertainment in Davis Square to switch up my experiences.
What are some of your favorite non-basketball related aspects of Tufts?
BD - One of my favorite aspects would have to be the many opportunities that Tufts offers for people with different interests. If you want to do research there are a number of different labs and professors to work with. If you want to be a part of a dance or singing group, or open your mind to various beliefs and religions there are clubs to join or classes to take. Tufts and Tufts students welcome such a wide spectrum of opportunities that everyone can find something that they enjoy being a part of.
Dufault and the rest of the Jumbos will host a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game at Cousens on Saturday (Feb. 16) at 4 pm. The opponent is still to be determined as of February 13. Tufts also has a chance to host the NESCAC semi-finals and final on Feb. 23-24, as well as an excellent shot to host an NCAA Regional at Cousens March 1-2. Follow the team's post-season route at GoTuftsJumbos.com.