Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local Women's Hoop Talent on Display in Durham

This article is about a college basketball game. And I know this is a high school sports web site, but it is not often that you will see 5 New Hampshire natives playing in 1 college basketball game, especially at the Division I or II level.

On Monday night the Division II Bentley University women's basketball team defeated Division I University of New Hampshire 78-51. The local players in action included Manchester's Christiana Bakolas (pictured above) and Goffstown's Katherine Goodwin for Bentley, and Durham's Jilliane Friel, Nashua's Kelsey Hogan and Hopkinton's Kelley Flynn for New Hampshire.

I was delivering play-by-play of the game for, and here's what I thought.

Domination by D-II Bentley
Boy is Bentley good! They are the preseason #1 team in the Northeast-10 Conference (one of the top D-II conferences in the country). They are the preseason #24 ranked D-II team in the country. But I wouldn't be surprised if they end up being in the top 10. They're that good.

Consider this. It was only the first game of the season, they had 3 freshmen getting significant minutes and they were playing on the road vs. a team a division higher than them. Yet this looked like a Falcons team that has been playing together for years. The basketball moved seamlessly from one player to another. Bentley had 17 offensive rebounds on the game, and out-rebounded New Hampshire 50-28. Bentley played tough, in-your-face man to man defense all game long. They also had a VERY well balanced offensive attack. They scored 78 points, yet the leading scorer (Courtney Finn) only had 12, while 11 different Bentley players got in the scoring column. I'd say that's pretty good balance. The Falcons also executed their BLOB (baseline out of bounds) plays to perfection. Time after time they were able to get wide open shots on the BLOB plays, either inside or from 3 point land.

UNH had problems on the boards, defending the BLOB plays, and containing the Bentley guards. They also had very little rhythm on offense. The Wildcats also had trouble converting inside baskets, missing a number of very make-able shots in the paint. While Bentley looked like a team in mid-season form, New Hampshire looked like a team that was, well playing in their first game of the year.

This certainly is not how first year Head Coach Maureen Magarity was hoping to make her debut in front of the home crowd. It's tough to blame her though. Only 2 of the 11 Wildcats who played on Monday night are her recruits. The previous Head Coach Kristin Cole resigned in March, and at the time she had zero recruits committed from the Class of 2010. By March most of the top D-I prospects have already made their commitments. Then Magarity didn't get hired until May, so by that point finding Division I caliber players who are still available is VERY difficult. Yet Magarity was able to sign not 1 but 2 players. One of those players (Sarah-Marie Frankenberger) started for UNH on Monday night. Frankenberger, a native a Germany, played a team-high 27 minutes and showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays. You have to give Magarity credit for landing a prospect like Frankenberger so late in the game (she didn't sign until September).

How the NH Natives Did
Christiana Bakolas, Bentley (Manchester, NH) - The former Manchester Central standout played 19 qualities minutes off the bench for the Falcons as the team's backup point guard. She pushed the ball effectively on the break, and played unselfish basketball. Bakolas was able to dsitribute the ball well, showing good floor vision to find the open teammate. Bakolas also made a couple of strong drives to the rim. She is a Division I caliber player who has a very productive 4 year career ahead of her.

Katherine Goodwin, Bentley (Goffstown, NH) - Goodwin, who attended the Governor's Academy, is beginning her 2nd season in a Falcons uniform after playing her freshman season at D-I Columbia. She started all year for Bentley last season, averaging 11.8 points a game. On Monday night she was able to handle the basketball, shoot it effectively off the dribble and the catch, and also played solid defense.

Jilliane Friel, New Hampshire (Durham, NH) - Friel is a sophomore guard for the Wildcats and comes from one of the great basketball families in NH history. All 4 of the Friel children have played D-I basketball and her father Gerry coached the UNH men's team for 20 years. Jilliane did have a tough game on Monday night though - playing just 10 minutes and going scoreless on 0-5 shooting.

Kelsey Hogan, New Hampshire (Nashua, NH) - Hogan is a redshirt freshman after missing all of last season and only playing in 3 games 2 years ago due to an injury. On Monday night though, she was possibly UNH's best, most consistent player. Hogan had a team-high 11 points, including a very nice pull-up 3 pointer where she was able to create space for her shot with a nice cross-over dribble. She pushed the ball up the floor all game, putting pressure on the Bentley defense.

Kelley Flynn, New Hampshire (Hopkinton, NH) - Bentley's tallest player is only 6'1", and Flynn is 6'5". You would think she would have had a field day in the post. But instead the junior scored just 3 points and had 3 rebounds in jut 16 minutes of action. The former Hopkinton High standout did however make an impact on the defensive end, where she blocked a game-high 4 shots for UNH.

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