One of the greatest classes in Springfield College women’s basketball history took its final bow at Blake Arena just under three weeks ago, after a crushing 65-54 first round NEWMAC defeat at the hands of the Clark University Cougars. It was a cruel way for the careers of Ava Adamopoulos, Lexi Windwer, Danielle Racette, and Molly McCausland to end. Going into the 2017 playoffs, the goal was to have one last shot at a NEWMAC title and a possible NCAA bid after helping snatch the conference crown as underdogs in their freshmen year.
The season officially ended for Springfield on Saturday after a 79-50 loss in the ECAC semi-finals at Carnegie Mellon to Waynesburg.
Despite the end-of-the-season gloom, however, the future is still bright for the Pride, and the seniors, when looking at their careers, do not have to despair. The combination of Adamopoulos, Windwer, Racette, and McCausland was a truly formidable core. Springfield’s overall record during their time on the team was over 20 games above .500. With the four, the Pride had a floor general in Racette (who led NEWMAC point guards in assist/turnover ratio), two sharpshooters in Windwer and McCausland, with Windwer finishing as the program’s all-time three point leader, and one of the best centers in the NEWMAC in Adamopoulos, who under head coach Naomi Graves, became a player who was capable of posting double doubles in each game played.
Normally, it could be difficult for a team to fill the voids of an above-average ball handler, two sharpshooters, and a bona fide center. This is not to say it won’t be for the Pride. But there is a good chance that the team will be okay, even if a 20 win follow-up next season seems far-fetched.
Springfield is returning only one senior. The good news is, that senior will be Heather King. King’s a 5’ll forward who posted a career high in points (9.8) while doing so with a field goal percentage just under 50 percent (43.7). She passed the ball better this year (1.2 assists per game, and as the early favorite to play the five for the ’17-’18 squad, rebounds will come naturally. This all goes without mentioning that King is deadly from mid-range, and can finish at the rim.
If King does play the five, then her frontcourt teammate as of now will likely be Gracie Restituyo. As a sophomore this year, Restituyo was quietly one of Springfield’s best players. The second year player out of Barrington, R.I. consistently played aggressive defense in the post, and followed that up with performing tenaciously on the boards. Offensively she was near automatic in the paint. After averaging six points and six rebounds on the year as a sophomore, Restituyo may be well on her way towards averaging a double-double at some point in her career – possibly next season.
Chelsea McAllister is arguably the best pure shooter returning to the team next winter. McAllister dropped 24 points on WPI in the showdown with the Engineers, which willed an under-the-weather offense to victory. Much like Windwer, McAllister is a player who can bury an opposition with consecutive threes when her confidence is high.
As of now, beside McAllister, at the point, will likely be Alex Goslin, who at 5’0, has the potential to be the Pride’s best all-around player. Goslin uses her quickness to get to the rim, and has made getting through post (against opponents who have almost a foot on her) look easy. Throughout covering Goslin in high school, she always had a knack for burrowing through the defense with deceptive strength. Very Marshawn Lynch-esque (I know, two completely different sports – sue me). Her shooting percentages at 50/37/80 (field goal/three-point/free throw) suggests that she can grow into a pure scorer. Defensively, Goslin’s a nightmare on the wing, an aggressive perimeter defender whose stance is ideal for dodging picks, and can succeed Racette as the player for Springfield who presses all the way up the floor. While averaging 18 minutes each game, she’s shown to be able to rack up stats everywhere else on the sheet. 2.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals. Keep an eye on Beastess Mode.
When looking beyond these four players, Graves also preached the importance of depth throughout the season. There’s still quite a bit of that. Early in the season, freshman Emily Jacques at 6’0 showed promise of being an effective defender both inside and outside of the paint. Graves was very pleased with the production of Taylor Hall off the pine this season, as Hall was able to average 3.3 rebounds and post a 39.7 field goal percentage in 16 minutes per game. Then finally there’s Rachel Menze at 6’2, the identical height to Adamopoulos. Graves played in college as a post player, and turned Adamopoulos into a 984 point/644 rebound center. It will be interesting to see how Menze evolves under her.
When looking at the bigger picture for the women’s team, there’s plenty of positives on the table, and the incoming freshmen have not even arrived yet. Graves is an intense and competitive coach, and although her talent is young, she likely has enough of it to construct an effective defensive scheme. Relax. They’ll be fine.