Sometimes progress can't be quantified purely by wins and losses. Such was the case of the Clarkson University Women’s Basketball team last year, when the team posted six victories for the second straight season.
However, the 2009-10 campaign saw the Golden Knights reduce their margin of defeat to its smallest amount since their last winning season of 2002-03, and a significant step forward could be in store for the Green and Gold in 2010-11.
Leading that hopeful leap is first-year head coach John Hampton and assistant coach Emily Cummings. Unlike the last two regime changes for the women’s basketball program, Hampton will provide continuity and a familiar face, as he served as the top assistant for the Golden Knights over the last two seasons.
An all-star performer as a guard in his own undergraduate days, Hampton will lead a guard-oriented offense in his first year, led by seniors Katie Goldberg (Stowe, VT), Sierra Noles (Averill Park, NY), and Lauren Pluchino (Liverpool, NY).
Goldberg and Noles have been steady contributors since their freshman seasons, and consequently appear on Clarkson’s all-time leader boards. Goldberg has served as Clarkson’s 3-point threat from the beginning, with unquestionable range that spreads defenses out in transition and in sets.
With 122 3-point field goals on her resume, she is just 26 shy of Clarkson’s all-time mark, and enters the season only a single point short of 500 in her career. Noles, the Liberty League Rookie of the Year in 2007-08, is an athletic guard with versatility, allowing her to serve as both ball-distributor and scorer when necessary. Ranking 12th on Clarkson’s all-time assists list, Noles will most certainly crack the top 10 in that category along with several others over the course of her senior season.
Though Pluchino’s playing time as a freshman was limited, the jumps that she has made in the last two years have been impressive. One of the most versatile players in the league, Pluchino can shoot over smaller guards but still play inside on the block to use her quickness against bigger players as well. Averaging steady figures across the board (9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game), Pluchino ranked third on the team in scoring last season.
Despite injuries slowing her down in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, junior Carey Turner (Clifton Park, NY) adds to a strong list of guard/forward types for the Knights. Turner was Clarkson’s leading scorer last season, averaging 13.1 points per game. She registered four 20-point games last year, including a career-high 26 against Vassar College. Turner’s variety of moves helps her get to the rim, but also forces many fouls, where she is equally deadly, shooting 82.5% from the free throw line last year, a figure that led the Liberty League.
Another impressive free throw shooter and guard for the Knights is junior Morgan Carella (Roslyn Heights, NY). More of a pure point guard, Carella averaged 4.4 points per game last year, with a good portion of them coming from her 85.2% free throw percentage that fell just short of qualifying for the conference lead. As her minutes increased last year, so did Clarkson’s offensive output.
Sophomore guard Stacey Garcia (St. Albans), another pass first guard, also saw her playing time increase last season, and her ball-handling abilities and quickness allow her to create off the dribble offensively while being a pesky defender.
The guard heavy rotation is a product of an undersized team, but several Clarkson student-athletes play bigger than their listed heights. Junior Courtney Green (Rochester, NY) averaged 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while playing just 13 minutes per contest as she became acclimated to the college game after playing only soccer as a freshman. Green is an athletic option outside and in the paint making her a tough match up for opponents, while her aggressiveness makes defenders run for cover when she goes to the basket. Sophomore Noelle Miller (Hamburg, NY) started off her first season with an injury, but she adapted quickly to the college game and added to the Knights depth in the paint. Despite being undersized for the position, Miller’s tenacity and intelligence make up for any deficits she may have in height against bigger opponents. Finally, forward/center Chrissy Scanlon (Queensbury, NY) provide the Knights with a true inside presence. The 6-foot post player will certainly make guards think twice about slashing to the basket.
The Knights also have two new players to add to the roster in sophomore Jazmyn Haywood (Rochester, NY) and freshman Marissa Pelosi (Medfield, MA). Both guards, the pair will vie for time as the season goes on and they get a better feel for the pace of the college game.