By Adam Zaki
Published: November 15th, 2017
After falling one game short of a City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) title, the Brooklyn College women’s basketball team goes into the 2017-2018 season with greater expectations. With departures of key members of last year’s team, the Bulldogs will have to depend on a combination of returning players and new faces to compete for another championship. This will be a difficult feat to overcome, as the Bulldogs will need to develop chemistry with each other while simultaneously continuing to be a top team in their conference.
If the Bulldogs hope to perform in a similar fashion as last season, their returning playmakers will need to take on larger roles. Junior guard/forward Alexandra Moogan will need to be the team’s most influential scorer, but her streakiness as a shooter has negatively and positively influenced outcomes of games since her freshman year.
Moogan will need more consistency, especially from beyond the arc, in order for her club to be successful this season. Her 29 percent shooting from distance last year won’t cut it this season; she needs to learn how to identify a high-percentage shot on the fly. Opponents know that she is a shooter, and she is respected by defenses because of it. If she can distinguish good opportunities from bad ones, her game can become more dynamic. By splitting double teams and avoiding traps, she can open up her possibilities if defenses can begin to respect her play when she doesn’t have the basketball.
With the arrival of forward Jasmine Hansgen, the returning forward Weronica Green will also need to improve her consistency on the floor if she wants to play a decent amount of minutes. With a weariness to get gritty under the basket, Green was physically dominated by opponents last season. Her 21 percent shooting from the field last season represents her offensive woes, but the consistent lack of rebounding has been more surprising in her time in Brooklyn. With a long history of playing basketball at a high level, Green has showed no tenacity as a Bulldog.
Hansgen, a transfer from Washington’s Highline College, led her team in minutes played and rebounds in 2016 and was second in field goal percentage. If Green cannot muster an element of toughness in her game, Hansgen will play a majority of the minutes in the front court, leaving Green as a bench player. The two will compete for playing time throughout the season, but Green’s play will ultimately dictate who the starter is and who comes off the bench.
With the dynamic and charismatic Kaylin Richburg out indefinitely with a knee injury, the Bulldogs will turn to their new backcourt additions to replace her. A majority of her responsibilities will fall on Ericka Fenelus, the freshman guard who excelled in Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School’s basketball program last season.
Although she has more size than Richburg, Fenelus doesn’t have the same skillset. Her ability to play more as a pass-first point guard may provide chances for her teammates, but her actual role on the team is still in question. After missing all of last season with an injury, guard Emma Somers will also compete for minutes, as Somers and Fenelus have a similar style of play. No matter which player steps up, Richburg’s play will need to be complemented by one of these players or a combination of the two in order for the team to have the backcourt that carried their team last season.
Other returning players that will receive hefty minutes include starting point guard and team captain Karen Mak and role-player Breanna Maresca. While Mak’s duties as the leader and play-caller will remain relatively similar to last season, Maresca’s responsibilities will reach their pinnacle in her senior year. If she can improve her ball-handling skills and shooting ability, Maresca can begin to make an impact on the court, something she has yet to do in her time as at Brooklyn.
After a poor outing against a strong Fairleigh Dickinson University team in their scrimmage last week, the Bulldogs will begin the season on a learning curve. If they can use season-opening road trips to New Jersey and Buffalo to work on their team chemistry, the Bulldogs will put themselves in a position to compete for another CUNYAC championship, a feat they came so close to less than a year ago.