2011-2012 MMA Women’s Basketball Preview

CASTINE — Maine Maritime Academy head coach, Craig Dagan is pleased with his team’s prospects for the 2011-2012 season. Coming off of a 17-10 season, the Mariners are loaded with experience and leadership. Now they have their sights set on the squad’s first North Atlantic Conference championship since 2005.

2011-2012 Roster
2011-2012 Schedule
Expanded Record Book

A perennial league-playoff team, Dagan is tinkering with his physical approach this season.

“Over the past few years, I think we have peaked in January,” says Dagan. “That’s on me. We need to play our best basketball in February.”

Consequently, Dagan has made practice more about the mental game. He is able to change this portion of the equation because of his senior leadership. The chain of Sam Goda, Brittany Green, Kayley Rodriguez, and Maggie Smith leads a group that has physically and mentally prepared itself for the season.

“I really enjoy only having to say things once,” says Dagan. “My seniors have us a step ahead of the game.

They have built a team that is self-motivated and they hold one another accountable. We have the right mentality.”

The leadership provided by the group manifests itself in different ways. Maggie Smith is a vocal player that whips the team into line. Sam Goda has emerged as a great teacher, coaching the post players, and her work ethic sets the physical tone. Kayley Rodriguez and Brittany Green provide the emotional leadership that Dagan feels the team has lacked over the past few years. Their leadership has allowed the team to keep its focus in practice on the court.

“Our goal every single year is to win a championship,” says Dagan. “This year I think we have the deepest and most balanced team we have had since 2007.”

Balance and depth is necessary for a team that consistently used 14 players last year with 11 players getting 12 or more minutes per game.

Dagan has three players likely to see time at point guard. Alexis Bennett, Courtney Dufour, and Jill Lavallee will all see time in the rotation. Bennett brings 42 games of experience at the two averaging 4.1 points per game.  Point is a more natural position for her, and she will bring size and physicality to the position the Mariners have been lacking over the past few years.

Dufour is more of a shooting guard, but can handle the point. A stout defender, she averages 1.9 points per game in her career. Dufour along with newcomer, Jillian Lavallee, are cerebral players and are both dynamite perimeter shooters. Another first-year, Brianna Reese, is coming off of a major foot injury and is weeks away from being ready. When she gets healthy, she will bring tremendous quickness and a great outside shot.

Dufour and Green will rotate at the two. Green, a fifth-year senior, has 82 games and 43 starts worth of experience. Averaging 6.3 ppg and 2.0 rpg in her career, Green is a solid defender on the ball, as is Dufour. Dagan is looking for more consistency in their perimeter shooting in 2011-2012.

“The inability to make threes has hurt us over the past few years,” says Dagan. “Our opponents have been able to pack it in on us.”

Alyssa Severance and Brittany Gallagher will also see significant minutes at shooting guard. Severance is the team’s best on-ball defender and finding a role for her is a preseason priority for Dagan. Gallagher, a freshman, has all of the intangibles to be a good player. She possesses solid fundamentals, can score from the perimeter or go to the hole, and she’s a lefty to boot.

Smith will hold down the wing.

“I expect her to have a tremendous season,” says Dagan. “She has done everything to prepare herself physically and mentally to take her game to the next level.”

Averaging 8.1 ppg in her career, Smith can score from the perimeter, down low, or in transition. She has posted 21 points in a game twice in her career and averages 20 steals per season.

Dagan describes first-year Crystal Clark as one of the most athletic players he has coached in a long time. She is excellent in transition and can attack the rim. She needs to increase her range, but will see significant minutes from the outset. Kari Jones and Rodriguez are both steady players on the wing. Jones and Rodriguez both suffer from missed practice time in the preseason because of their fall sports, and Jones returned to the team last season after a one-year layoff. She is better prepared and will have a greater role this season. Rodriguez’s role should also expand this year. A mature and self-confident player, she is critical to the team’s success this season.

An All-Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Second Team choice last year, Goda will occupy the post. Undersized for the position, she has averaged 11.4 ppg and 8.4 rpg per night over her career. Last year was her best season, putting up 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest, landing her on the All-North Atlantic Conference First Team for the second time in as many years. Goda can score face up or with her back to basket and is very explosive off to the dribble.

Andi Flannery gained valuable experience transitioning to the college game last year. She dumped in 2.9 ppg and 3.3 rpg in her 9.9 minutes per night as a freshman. Smaller, but athletic, Flannery will compete for the starting post position opposite of Goda. Casey Everest will move into the post from the wing.  She averaged 4.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg and a dozen minutes per night a year ago. She may emerge as one of the team’s top scoring players in the post, but needs to refine her defensive game to expand her minutes.

Three freshman, Bekah Campbell, Jillian Perron, and Sydney Robertson give Dagan immediate depth and paint a bright future in the post.

“Rebekah and Sydney give us legitimate centers on the roster,” says Dagan.

At 6-4, Campbell has great hands, great footwork and has worked very hard to get into better shape so she can play extended minutes. She will be a physical force in the North Atlantic Conference. Robertson stands 6-1 and is a long player who thrives on playing defense. She will be a late arrival because of volleyball, where she was the NAC Rookie of the Year, but will impact the team as season progresses.

Dagan describes Perron as a sponge.  A solid face up player, she needs to improve with her back to basket.

“You can see that she is going to get better and better as season goes on,” says Dagan. “She wants to be good and puts in the work necessary to be good.”

For Maine Maritime to be good, the Mariners will have to traverse the program’s most ambitious schedule to date in 2011-2012. The Mariners will face the University of Maine at The Pit on November 29. The Mariners will head to the Curry Tournament just prior to Thanksgiving. The tournament will feature traditionally strong New England teams, Curry, Mass.-Dartmouth and Fitchburg State.

The caliber of competition in the Mariner Classic has also been ratcheted up. Middlebury and Tufts will join Salve Regina on January 2nd and 3rd in Castine.

In North Atlantic play, Maine Maritime will have to contend with Castleton, Husson, and Farmington, which have always provided tough games. The conference is slate also got tougher with the addition of Colby-Sawyer and New England College.

Maine Maritime Academy tips off on November 15 against Maine-Presque Isle. Fans can watch that, and all home games online. Max Cole of WLBZ 2 in Bangor will have the play-by-play for MMA’s NAC double-headers.


For more sports news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

Fenceviewer Staff

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