|Carle's Corner: Falcon women add to legacy of program (4-4-14)|
|Written by JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Friday, 04 April 2014 21:25|
Bowling Green’s women’s basketball team added to its legacy with 30 victories, a Mid-American Conference regular-season title, and a deep run in the WNIT.
The season ended Monday night with a 55-50 loss to Rutgers. Rutgers has advanced to play for the WNIT championship today at University of Texas-El Paso.
The three-player senior class — Alexis Rogers, Jillian Halfhill and Jill Stein — provided the spark and leadership for the Falcons all season. They are the ninth senior class in school history, and eighth straight, to be a part of at least 100 career victories.
‘‘The last three weeks, our seniors have really had a sense of urgency, and have also had a sense of ownership to this program,’’ BG head coach Jennifer Roos said. ‘‘Those three have been a mainstay for us.
‘‘This group right here, this ’13-14 women’s basketball team with those three kids as seniors ... they are in the record book,’’ she added.
After the loss to Rutgers, Roos made it a point to have the three seniors remain on the court after the alma mater to thank the fans.
‘‘They have left their mark. That’s why I wanted to hold the three of them together on the court, so they could get that extra applause,’’ Roos said. ‘‘They deserve that.
‘‘They are, bottom line, a special group. I’m very proud of this group for what they have done, not only for the program, for the university, and for each other.’’
Rogers finished No. 16 on BG’s career scoring list, with 1.257 points in three seasons with the Falcons. She played one year at Duke before transferring to Bowling Green.
‘‘That’s a kid who is really a student-teacher right now. She works a full day and then comes to practice every day,’’ Roos said.
At point-guard, Halfhill could score when needed and was a settling force for the Falcons.
‘‘(She) was 68 points away from 1,000 and literally scored less than 30 her freshman year,’’ Roos said.
Stein was a glue player for the Falcons, someone every coach wants on their team. She was a key factor in Bowling Green’s success in March 2013 and in March again this season.
“Her name is synonymous with March Madness,’’ Roos said about Stein. ‘‘She carried us through the WNIT last year.
‘‘That’s a kid who didn’t play much her freshman year, and got better and better.’’
The Falcons’ fan base responded as Bowling Green drew 7,677 fans for the four home games in the WNIT. The crowd of 2,649 for the Rutgers games was appreciated by the players.
‘‘I don’t know if I have ever played in front of a crowd like there was (Monday). It was booming in here, it was just so loud,’’ Rogers said. ‘‘I don’t know about anybody else, but it fueled my energy and that was exciting.
“You don’t know if you are ever going to be able to play in front of a crowd like this, with people who genuinely love you, who care about you and want to help you,’’ she added. ‘‘This is a place that I will come back and visit.’’
And while there is still the postseason banquet, the question is: what’s next for the Falcons with three starting spots open?
With season-ending injuries to three players, the Falcons had only nine players in uniform for the majority of the season, with seven forming the main rotation.
There are three seniors returning — Deborah Hoekstra, Jasmine Matthews and Katrina Salinas, who was redshirted this past season after knee surgery.
Miriam Justinger and Erica Donovan are the juniors back next season.
There were four freshmen this season with point-guard Rachel Konieczki and post Abby Siefker both logging more minutes than Halfhill and Stein did as freshman.
Freshman Kennedy Kirkpatrick (hip) and Leah Bolton (knee), were limited to five and two games, respectively.
The Falcons have four recruits who have signed a national letter of intent to play fo next season, including Sarah Baer, a 6-foot-1 post player from Perrysburg, and Rachel Myers, a 5-7 guard from Liberty-Benton. The other new players are Haley Puk, a 6-0 guard from Waterloo, Iowa and Lauren Webb, a 6-1 post, from Vernon Hills, Ill.
Matthews, Justinger and Donovan have combined for 122 starts with the Falcons, and Hoekstra played an important roll off the bench this season. All will have to contribute even more next season.
The Falcons need to have at least three post players ready for next season. Will the 5-11 Donovan fill one of those inside roles on a permanent basis or will she be a wing/forward?
BG will also need to develop a point-guard who can direct the team for 30 minutes a game. Halfhill led the team in minutes played with 1,133 (32.3 minutes per game). Will Konieczki be ready for that stress-filled role or will Roos use a scholarship to bring in a graduate student with eligibility remaining or try the junior college route again?
And how will the new players progress?
I don’t know the answers, but I’m looking forward to finding them out in about eight months.
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