Friday, December 13, 2013
BY GARY HAWKINS
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Coach: Julie Veilleux (2nd year)
Last season: 19-7, 7-3 NESCAC
Key players: G Diana Manduca (Sr.), G Jacky McLaughlin (Sr.), G Jayde Bennett (Sr.), Gabe Donahue (Jr.)
Outlook: The Mules lost their top three scorers from last season including all-conference selections Rachel Mack and Jil Vaughn, both inside players and valuable rebouders. They return several guards including Diana Manduca who was second in assists and steals and fourth in scoring. Senior Jacky McLaughlin led the team in 3-pointers and minutes played while Jayde Bennett and Jen Nale will also see plenty of playing time. The Mules will have to develop an inside presence and hold their own on the boards to return to their third NCAA tournament appearance in the past four seasons.
Coach: Damien Strahorn (2nd year)
Last season: 7-17, 1-9 NESCAC
Key players: G Connor O’Neil (So.), G Jonathan Kalin (Sr.), G Shane Rogers (So.) C Ben Brassard (So.), F Gordon Fischer (Sr.), F Nick Risma (Sr.)
Outlook: The Mules should be improved this season although they’ll still field a young lineup. Kalin started all 24 games at point guard while Rogers also played in every game. O’Neil averaged 7.7 points a game and rounds out a fairly experienced backcourt. The Mules also added some size up front. How quickly those players mature will determine a lot about their season. Gordon Fischer and Jack Crampton return after missing several games last season due to injury.
Coach: Blaise MacDonald (1st year)
Last season: 7-15-1
Key players: D Scott Hartff (Sr.), F Nick Lanza (Jr.), F Cory McGrath (Sr.), G Matt Delaney (Sr.), F Jack Bartlett (Jr.), F Ray Zeek (So.), F Nick Kondiles, (Sr.), F Spike Smigelski (Sr.).
Outlook: The Mules graduated their top two scorers but have several experienced players returning led by senior defenseman Scott Harff and forwards Cory McGrath and Nick Lanza. Also back is Nick Kondiles who is the active career scoring leader with 12 goals and 25 assists. Senior goaltender Matt Delaney played 80 percent of the minutes in goal but will be pushed by a pair of sophomores. MacDonald takes over for interim coach Stan Moore.
Coach: David Venditti (9th year)
Last season: 6-17-2
Key players: G Brianne Wheeler (Jr.), F Samantha Slotnick (Jr.), F Lauren Guarente (So.), F Annie Papadellis (Jr.), F Meredith Reynolds (Sr.), D Ally Kane (Sr.), F/D Caroline Chessare (Sr.), D Carolyn Fuwa (So.), D Jackie Tavella (So.).
Outlook: The Mules return a top goaltender in Brianne Wheeler who was a second-team NESCAC selection last year with a .920 save percentage. They’ll need to improve their scoring, however, as they managed just 33 goals in 25 games., They do return their top four scorers, led by Slotnick who had six goals and seven assists last season.
Coach: Silas Gill (interim, 1st year)
Key skiers: Jake Barton (Sr.), John Dixon (Jr.), Olga Golovkina (Sr.), Lizzie Anderson, (Jr.) Molly Susla (Sr.).
Outlook: Gill takes over as coach while head coach Tracey Cote is on sabbatical. He has a talented group to coach led by Jake Barton who made the NCAA championships last season. He’ll lead the men along with captain John Dixon. Seniors Olga Golovkina and Molly Susla will lead the women along with Lizzie Anderson.
Coach: Danny Noyes (6th year)
Key skiers: Jim Ryan (Jr.), Marc Massie (Sr.), Craig Marshall (So.), Will Randall (Jr.), Cassidy Roberts (Sr.), Katie Houser (Sr.), Brittney Ziebell (Jr.), Jeanne Barthold (So.).
Outlook: Ryan made the national meet the last two years in a row and is a co-captain along with Massie. Marshall and Randall also return to the team. Roberts, a two-year co-captain skied at the nationals last year. Houser is a co-captain as well while Ziebell and Barthold are also back.
Coach: Sakhi Kahn (12th year)
Key players: C.J. Smith (Fr.), John Eder (So.), Roy Simpson III (Jr.), Steve Carroll (Jr.), Ben York (So.), Pete Gabranski (Sr.), Darryl Soto (Jr.).
Outlook: The Mules graduated Harry Smith, possibly the greatest player in program history but have his younger brother C.J., who is expected to take over the first position. Eder had the team’s best record at 21-5 and should play at three while Simpson moves up to the No. 2 spot.
Coach: Sakhi Kahn (12th year)
Key players: Kate Pistel (Sr.), Molly Parsons (Sr.), Lindsey McKenna (Jr.). Liz Brehman (So.), Tara Tischio (So.), Madeline Hunsicker (So.), Lily Greenberg (Sr.).
Outlook: Pistel, Parsons and McKenna combined for 59 wins last season and lead a strong returning group. Pistel led the Mules with 22 wins while Parsons, the team captain, posted 17. McKenna, who is studying abroad, will miss part of the season after going 20-9 last year.
The Colby women's basketball team had a strong low-post game last season led by Jil Vaughn and Augusta's Rachel Mack. But both have graduated along with Arika Ritchie and leave a scoring and rebounding void that may be difficult to fill.
This year's team is more centered around guard play which plays into the hands of a couple of incoming freshman, Carylanne Wolfington and Mia Diplock. The pair led their teams to state championship appearances last season, Wolfington at Hall-Dale and Diplock at Cony, and were named Kennebec Journal Co-Players of the year.
Given the youth on the Mules roster -- the team opens against Bridgewater State on Friday -- both should see playing time this season. They worked out together over the summer and played with a group of teammates two days a week in Portland. They're similar players in that they are both good 3-point shooters who can use their physical strength and quickness to take their opponents to the basket.
"For this league that's what enticed me to want to recruit them," Colby coach Julie Veilleux said. "Both of them will have a lot of opportunity because we're so young."
The Mules bring back several talented guards, however, led by senior point guard Diana Manduca. Diplock is primarily a point guard while Wolfington play the off guard position. Both have had a semester to acclimate to college life and the academic workload.
"It's so much different than high school.," Wolfington said. "Here they give you all the tools you need to adjust."
Practices vary quite a bit from high school, too. There's much more emphasis on set plays and individual responsibility and the players lift weights three times a week.
"It's definitely a lot more intense," Diplock said. "We're in the gym four hours a day sometimes. You have to get there early and warm up on your own."
Veilleux also liked the fact that the two are at their best when the stakes are the greatest. Wolfington took over down the stretch to lead the Bulldogs past Waynflete in the Western Maine Class C championship game while Diplock did the same against Edward Little in the Eastern A final.
Both were three-sport athletes in high school, Diplock playing basketball, soccer and lacrosse and Wolfington basketball, soccer and softball.
"You can tell they're athletes," Veilleux said.
Wolfington was also recruited to play softball at Colby and will play that sport next spring while Diplock also considered playing lacrosse.
"I'm probably not going to play," she said. "Just with the whole commitment already. We played six days a week this fall and we also play in the spring."
Veilleux said she places a high priority on recruiting top players from Maine and has six on her roster this winter.
"It's nice that they're not only from Maine," she said. "But they're also from the same area."
Diplock said many of her friends plan to watch her play while Wolfington also expects a strong contingent of local fans.
Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638