|Falcons' Matthews, Hoekstra expected to emerge as leaders (05-09-14)|
|Written by JACK CARLE|
|Friday, 09 May 2014 08:07|
The tradition and legacy of Bowling Green Falcon women's basketball has been passed on for years from the graduating seniors to the upcoming senior class.
Bowling Green has had numerous talented players come through the program, but it's learning how to win and how to be champions that make the difference.
This past season when the Falcons were 30-5, seniors Alexis Rogers, Jillian Halfhill and Jill Stein led the way.
''They understand what you need to do to be successful, on and off the court. They understand what you need to do to be successful in the locker room as well. That's a component that is sometimes lost in the shuffle of scoring, rebounding, assists,'' BG head coach Jennifer Roos said. ''They know what it's like to be a champion on the court, in the classroom, and in the locker room. For us to be successful we needed all three of those pieces.''
The mantle of responsibility has now been passed to Jasmine Matthews and Deborah Hoekstra, BG's two 2014-15 seniors.
''They have grown up a lot this year in particular,'' Roos said. ''When you look at the sheer age of those two kids, and now they have the most experience being in the system, you can naturally see those two kids gravitating toward a leadership position on our team. If they don't, I won't be happy.''
Matthews battled a knee injury in the 2012-13 season, and had to watch from the bench. She was not able to receive a medical redshirt as she played in two, too many games.
Matthews was able to return and contribute this past season.
''She grew up because of her injury. She became a coach on the sideline while watching,'' Roos said. ''She knows the value of playing, because she had games taken away from her.''
Hoekstra received the most playing time of her career last season, and provided a scoring threat off the bench.
''She should have been MAC (Mid-American Conference) sixth man of the year,'' Roos said. ''She never started a game, and the winner (of the award) started games.''
Next season the junior class will consist of Miriam Justinger and Erica Donovan, the top two returning scorers from last season. Donovan averaged 10.9 points a game and Justinger averaged 8.4 points per game.
Roos will be looking to replace Halfhill at the point guard and Rogers and Stein inside. She also hopes to have more depth this season after playing the vast majority of the 2013-14 season with nine players, two of whom were freshmen.
''We were fortunate enough to make it through the season, but having depth will help us,'' Roos said. ''We have put ourselves in position to have depth.''
There are plenty of opportunities for the upcoming sophomores and the incoming freshmen.
Rachel Konieczki and Abby Siekfer both got playing time last season, and are the two sophomores on the roster.
If the NCAA grants medical redshirts to Leah Bolton and Kennedy Kirkpatrick, the Falcons will have a six-member freshman class.
Sarah Baer, from Perrysburg High School, Rachel Myers, Haley Puk, and Lauren Webb are the incoming freshmen.
Konieczki is first in line to replace Halfhill.
''I have been pleased with how hard Rachel has gone during our post-season (workouts). She has done everything that we have asked,'' Roos said.
''All her statistical categories are doubled what Jillian's production was her freshman year,'' Roos added. ''I will continue to ask her to be more aggressive offensively ... If you are open, you had better shoot it.''
Kirkpatrick and Myers could also help at point guard.
Matthews, Hoekstra, Justinger and Donovan all return with experience on the wing. Kirkpatrick, Myers and Puk are also wings.
Donovan can also go inside while Siefker gained experience inside, playing in 31 games.
Baer and Webb will also play inside.
Katrina Salinas, who sat out last season with a knee injury, will not return. A fifth-year senior, Salinas played one season with the Falcons, after spending two years at Central Arizona College. Roos said Salinas plans to transfer to a school closer to her home in Sacramento, Calif.
Roos is still working on the nonleague schedule for next season.
Tentatively the Falcons are playing in the Loyola-Marymount tournament in November and the Florida International tournament in December.
Bucknell, Iona College and Cincinnati are set to visit the Stroh Center, and the Falcons will play at UW-Milwaukee, St. Francis, Illinois State and Bradley.
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