Women’s basketball team has reason to be optimistic in 2007-08
Sarah Barton ’08
Val Beckwith ’09
Meg Coffin ’08
Matia Kostakis ’08
LEWISTON, Maine — What happens when you fit four All-NESCAC women’s basketball players into the same starting five? That’s the question that has Bates followers eager to find the answer.
It’s an unusual scenario: the Bobcats return three All-NESCAC players — senior Sarah Barton, junior Val Beckwith and senior Matia Kostakis — from the squad that went 15-10 last season, beginning with tonight’s tipoff game at the University of Southern Maine (5:30 p.m.). Then in a month, after the first semester at Bates concludes, a former NESCAC Player of the Year and All-American, Meg Coffin, returns to action in a Bobcat uniform for the first time since the 2006 women’s soccer season.
Coffin was playing against Middlebury that year when she tore the ACL and MCL in her right knee, forcing her to miss the entire 2006-07 basketball season and the 2007 lacrosse season. This followed the breakout basketball season Coffin turned in for the 2005-06 Bobcats, winning the aforementioned Player of the Year award as well as a spot on the WBCA and D3Hoops.com All-America teams.
Head coach Jim Murphy ’69, entering his 14th season and sporting a 240-93 lifetime record, while pointing out that past accomplishments “are basically irrelevant,” nevertheless recognizes a team with promise when he sees one.
“The level of competition is tremendous, and we’ll have to play well all the time, but it’s a realistic goal to win the NESCAC Championships, then take whatever happens from there,” said Murphy. “Now, we’re not the only that has that as a realistic goal — Tufts, Bowdoin and Amherst, are three others right there. But I think we’re good too. One of the things we’re trying to get through is we’re not going to out-talent anybody. But if we outwork the other team, that’s what wins NESCAC games.”
First, a look at those All-NESCAC players.
Coffin (Westford, Mass.), a 6-2 center, was simply a force in 2005-06, leading the Bobcats in scoring (17.1), rebounding (11.0), blocked shots (1.6 bpg) and steals (2.3 spg), and was at the top or near the top of the NESCAC in all of those categories, while Bates earned the top seed in the NESCAC Championships and made the field at the NCAA Championships. Coffin also set a new school record for field goal percentage, at .592, topping Olivia Zurek ’05′s mark of .582 from 2002-03. Her first game back on the team will be at the Bahamas Sunshine Shootout, where Bates will play Washington & Jefferson on Dec. 19 and Washington (Md.) College the following day.
Barton (Portsmouth, N.H.) has already been named a Fourth Team Preseason All-America for the second straight year by D3Hoops.com, and the reasons are clear: Barton has led the NESCAC in assists in all three of her seasons at Bates, and has ranked near the top in Division III in that category each of the past two years, and already owns Bates’s single-game and single-season records in assists, and with 494 career assists heading into tonight’s game, she stands only 85 away from Colleen McCrave ’99′s school record of 579. Far from one-dimensional, Barton tends to fill up the stat sheet like few players can, exhibited by her averages last season of 8.4 points, 0.68 blocked shots and 5.6 rebounds per game from the point guard position. Barton also shot a solid .710 at the free throw line and tied with Beckwith for 13th in the conference in steals, at 1.76 per game.
Beckwith, a 5-10 forward from Woburn, Mass., stepped ably into the void of offensive production Coffin left behind last season, starting all 25 of the Bobcats’ games, averaging 30.7 minutes and leading the team with 16.8 points per game, the third highest average in the NESCAC. Beckwith was also second on the team and was tied for 13th in the league in rebounding, at 6.4 boards per game. Beckwith ranked eighth in the NESCAC in field goal percentage (.466), sixth in free throw percentage (.759), and was tied for 13th in steals per game (1.76). Beckwith was named First Team All-NESCAC last season, while Barton earned Second Team honors for the second straight year.
Kostakis, a 6-0 forward from Andover, Mass., made the All-NESCAC Second Team in 2005-06 as one of the league’s top scoring and rebounding threats, with 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She raised those numbers last season to 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, and again was one of the top free throw shooters in the conference, with a .778 percentage, yet an apparent numbers game left her out of All-NESCAC honors (though she joined Barton and Beckwith on the All-State team).
As loaded as Bates may be at the top, there is plenty of talent remaining on the roster, and Murphy voiced his pleasure with the team’s preseason practices.
“You can see in our practices that we are absolutely better than we were a year ago,” he said. “We’re more polished, and have a better understanding of what we’re doing offensively and defensively.
“We’re going to have to play with a lot more energy on defense,” Murphy continued. “I thought last year we let people do whatever it is they wanted to do. But the kids are doing a better job of trapping and rotating, and rebounding the ball better as well.”
Bates finished last season with two now-departed seniors in the starting lineup, Katie Franklin and Maggie Fitzgerald. Among the top candidates to replace them would be 6-0 sophomore forward Lauren Yanofsky (Belmont, Mass.) and 5-10 sophomore guard Kellie Goodridge (Merrimack, N.H.). Yanofsky scored 7.6 points with 4.5 rebounds per game last year and was the team’s leading shot-blocker, with 24. Goodridge made 12 starts last season and averaged 3.1 points in 13.8 minutes per game, and her athleticism helped in often guarding the opponent’s top guard. Junior 5-10 forward ShawnRose Lanchantin (Newton, Mass.) and sophomore 6-0 forward Danielle Schaefers (Barrington, R.I.) also made valuable contributions at times last season.
As veteran a team as Bates will be, the Bobcats will still have seven first-year players: sharpshooting 5-7 guard Maggie DePoy (Chicago, Ill.), 5-7 guard Brittney French (Auburn, Maine), multi-talented 6-0 forward Jessie Igoe (Lexington, Mass.), 6-3 center Emily Jasinski (Durham, N.H.), 5-11 forward Christine McCall (Lowell, Mass.), 5-10 forward Chelsea Pennucci (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and 5-6 guard Vonetta Trotter (New York, N.Y.). Igoe may be the surest bet to find regular minutes, but DePoy, Pennucci and French are among the others who may find a place in the team’s rotation as the season progresses.
In addition to the always tough NESCAC schedule, Bates will play non-league games against a wealth of high-quality opponents — including non-league games against conference rivals Bowdoin, Colby and Tufts. Following the Southern Maine matchup, Bates hosts its first home game on Nov. 28 against Husson. Other opponents will include St. Lawrence, two games against UMaine-Farmington, Washington & Jefferson, Washington College, William Paterson, the University of New England and Wentworth Institute. On Dec. 1 the Bobcats will face either Norwich or The Apprentice School at Norwich’s Ed Hockenbury Classic, and on Jan. 4 they will play either Wesleyan or Springfield on the second day of Springfield’s Naismith Classic.