[Jessica Jenkins and Megan Van Tatenhove are just two of the seniors who have casted a shadow over St. Bonaventure’s freshman – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
Jim Crowley, his staff and players stood on the half court line on Bob Lanier Court in the Reilly Center as an Atlantic 10 regular season champions and Sweet 16 banners were raised to the rafters.
In their minds was the success of its past senior class, winners of 98 games – most in program history – and the ones who led the team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
While they are no longer suiting up for the Brown and White, their memory is everlasting in the product now seen on the court.
And the shadows of those players is casted entirely on the six freshmen entrusted to continue building on the foundation that is laid before them. In the season opener against Binghamton, the freshmen showed the promise of a brighter future mixed with immediate success.
The Bonnies (1-0) struggled early, falling behind 10-3, before utilizing a 30 to 6 run to take over the game and never looked back. The 61-34 victory tied a program record for second fewest points allowed in a game and perhaps set the tone for the rest of the season.
“We didn’t start well and were settling for jump shots,” Crowley said following the game. “But I thought Emily and Tatiana came in and gave us a boost with their attacking ball pressure.”
Emily Michael, a freshman guard, entered the game in the middle of the first half and immediately made an impact. The 5-foot-8 guard zeroed in on Binghamton’s guards and did not let them out of her sight as she picked their pockets for two steals on the game.
“We work on defense all the time, and it’s really what we feed off of to get our offense going,” Michael said after her 2-for-6 shooting performance for 6 points. “The goal that I set for myself, and the team, was me bringing it on defense, and today it worked out.”
However, Michael was not the only freshman who made an impact. Katie Healy entered the game and utilized her height advantage in the interior.
Healy showed off a great post game, using quick pivots and surprising strength to put the ball in the basket. But she also showed some decent range, hitting shots from 15 feet out as well, similar to Megan Van Tatenhove.
The 6-foot-1 forward went 5-for-8 from the field for 12 points and nabbed seven rebounds to solidify her presence inside.
“My teammates and coaches said I needed to step it up,” Healy said modestly after the game. “And it’s all a credit to the post players that are on my team that go hard against me in practice. Through that I’m able to get better, and it shows on the court.”
Getting better in practice – a Crowley team staple. His teams are never going to be the most talented in the country, but they play the game the right away and execute to their strengths.
“We are never going to win the lay-up line,” Crowley said during last year’s run. “We’re not flashy, but we’re smart and do the little things.”
And it’s still the case with an entirely different team. Bona committed just seven turnovers in a game that 11 players saw game action, including five of the six freshmen.
While Crowley was pleased with the effort of his team, especially the freshmen, he is still the all-too-concerned coach.
“I have confidence in my team, and I have no confidence in my team,” ESPN’s National Coach of the Year said. “I know how good they are, but what I don’t have confidence is them showing they can do it all the time.”
But with the few returners pushing the freshmen in practice coupled with immediate success on the court, St. Bonaventure’s future is looking brighter than many assumed after losing four special seniors.