Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Despite tough losses against both Connecticut College and Trinity on Friday night and Saturday midday respectively, the Bates women’s basketball team is 11-6 overall and 3-3 in conference, setting them up to make a deep NESCAC run. I sat down with Coach Alison Montgomery on Thursday morning to discuss what makes the Bobcats so solid this season.
Taking Care of the Rock
A trademark of this year’s women’s team has been their ability to take care of the basketball. They are leading the NESCAC in fewest turnovers per game (12.1 per game), to which Montgomery credits the team’s guard play and veteran leadership: “We have experienced players, and we really emphasize it regularly. Not to mention we have really good guard play this season.” Meghan Graff ‘23, Mia Roy ‘22 and Morgan Kennedy ‘24 are all very solid ball handlers that can overcome pressure defense with ease.
Bates also runs a different offense than most NESCAC teams. Instead of running a free-flowing motion offense where players have extreme freedom to make decisions — which often results in players making poor decisions — Bates runs lots of set plays.
These set plays allow Bates to systemize their offense into a set of options, reads and counters, which allows them to have fewer turnovers. Additionally, with the number of different set plays that they have (not to mention the different options within those sets), Bates is still very difficult to gameplan for even though they’ve run all of their plays many times before.
I talked about this in a past article, but the offensive glass has been a real bright spot for Bates this season. With 16.3 offensive rebounds per game, the team is No. 1 in the NESCAC, as those boards allow them to get tons of extra shots on teams.
Although it’s something that Coach Montgomery emphasizes, she said that “you either have a knack for it or you don’t,” and clearly lots of Bates players have that knack. Ariana Dalia ‘22, Bri Gadaleta ‘23 and Taylor Mcveigh ‘22 all attack the offensive glass aggressively and have a strength and toughness inside that makes them really hard to handle.
Why does Montgomery emphasize offensive rebounds, though? Well, she said that “Offensive rebounds are emotional. They’re debilitating.” And, I agree with her. Playing solid defense for 30 seconds and forcing a missed shot only to have the offense get another opportunity at scoring is one of the most frustrating things in basketball.
The Bobcats have four players scoring in double figures this season, which is not necessarily what would’ve been expected, given the fact that they have the reigning leader in points per game in the NESCAC (Meghan Graff). By the way … CONGRATS to Meg on scoring 1,000 points in only her junior season (!) — what an accomplishment.
When talking about Graff, Coach Montgomery said that “She’s always had the willingness to get people involved, it’s what she’s always wanted while she’s been here, she just hasn’t had the opportunity in the past.”
Graff has by far the most assists on the team this season, and it’s because of her unselfish play and high basketball IQ. However, it’s also because of the emergence of some other offensive weapons. Roy, Kennedy and Gadaleta can all be counted on to hit shots and attack the rim, and Graff finally has some confidence in the pieces around her.