Bates Women's Basketball
I sat down with Coach Alison Montgomery of the Bates women’s basketball team to discuss her thoughts on what the team could look like this season, and let me tell you, we could be in for a really special winter. The confidence that Montgomery has in her team is palpable, and I can really see them making a tourney run if everything goes as planned. Now, obviously that means lots of things have to fall into place, but the Bates WBB team seems to have the talent, depth and grit that’s needed to make a deep run come March.
Experience, Experience, Experience
Bates is returning their top three scorers and minute getters from two seasons ago, which is something very few teams can say. These three players (Meghan Graff, Ariana Dalia, and Mia Roy) will lead a Bates team that will be one of the oldest in the NESCAC, and Montgomery feels that this will allow the younger players on the team to “not have the same pressure our current seniors had when they were younger.” These seniors, who Montgomery claims “jump started the program,” were relied upon heavily for offensive production as first years, but the same will certainly not be the case for the current first years and sophomores.
This veteran team will be more seasoned than they were two years ago, and that should bode well for their record, especially on the road (where we were 3-7 two years ago). Furthermore, the fact that teams are returning from a long hiatus means that Bates will be at a significant advantage having many players who have already played under the intense pressure of college basketball, which can be really striking for young players who make the transition to the NESCAC. This is to say that the early season hiccups we will likely see across the board will be less prevalent with this team, which should help them get off to a strong start.
If you like high-pace, high-intensity play, make sure you come to some Bates WBB games this season. Coach Montgomery told me that “We’re going to press this year a lot more, with our quick guards… that’s what we’re meant to do.” Mia Roy will be a huge factor in this run-and-jump pressing defense; her incredible motor and quick hands make her the picture-perfect press defender. Coach also says that “Right now, I feel like I can play seven guards in a game… we have lots of small and quick guards.” This depth will allow the team to keep the press on for the whole game if they’d like. The truth, however, is that a press – even a really good one – will not work for 40 minutes against a good team. Well coached, smart basketball teams will adjust to a pressing defense throughout the course of a game; this is why you see almost no full court pressure in the NBA, or even international professional basketball for that matter.
Two years ago, Meghan Graff was the leading scorer in the NESCAC (18.2 points per game) and took a whopping 28% of the Bates’ shots: “We relied so heavily on one person to do all our scoring… we were a little bit of a one man-show offensively,” Montgomery told me. This year, though, she says that “We can score in the post now, and we just have lots of players who can get buckets.” Jenna Berens ’23, Brianna Gadaleta ’23, and Delaney Nwachukwu ’24 are all above six feet and should have success on the block, especially with great scoring output the Bobcats should be able to provide from the perimeter. Look out for Amaari Williams ’22 to provide scoring and shooting from the back court as well; she’s returning from a torn ACL but has played in big games and was an important player during her first year season, so she could definitely have a large impact.
I specifically asked Montgomery what she thought about the 28% of shots that Graff took two years ago, and she said “Everyone, including Meg, would love to see our scoring more spread out.” Graff will be more of a distributor this season according to Montgomery, and that should allow the team to have more offensive threats and therefore harder to defend against.