In­com­ing fresh­men learn­ing from col­lege sum­mer league play.

In­com­ing fresh­men learn­ing from col­lege sum­mer league play

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

Brady Was­sell knew there would be no sub­sti­tute for ex­pe­ri­ence.

An in­com­ing fresh­man on Holy Fam­ily’s women’s bas­ket­ball team, Was­sell had heard about the tran­si­tion from high school to col­lege from her older sis­ters who had played at the next level, but words can only do so much. The Lans­dale Catholic grad­u­ate and a host of other lo­cal in­com­ing fresh­men have got­ten their first taste of the col­lege game this sum­mer and it’s been an eye-opener.

Was­sell is just one of a large num­ber of area alumni play­ing in the Philadel­phia/Subur­ban Women’s Sum­mer Bas­ket­ball League and for the soon-to-be-fresh­men, it’s a chance to gain as much ex­pe­ri­ence and in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble.

“It’s cool be­cause I rec­og­nize a lot of dif­fer­ent faces from the PCL or just play­ing in AAUand it’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause col­lege is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent game,” Was­sell said. “I’m happy I’m get­ting this ex­po­sure to some of it early on.”

The league, which is in its 25th year, fea­tures 10 teams made up of col­lege play­ers from Di­vi­sion I-III, fea­tures a nine-game reg­u­lar sea­son fol­lowed by a play­off tour­na­ment with ev­ery team in the field. Teams play twice a week at Kelly Bol­ish Gym, home of the Rene­gades AAU pro­gram. NCAA rules pre­vent col­lege coaches from coach­ing teams in the league, although they are per­mit­ted to ob­serve.

While teams are named for the color shirt they play in, some col­leges have their en­tire ros­ter mak­ing up a squad, like Jef­fer­son, US­ciences and Ar­ca­dia. Oth­ers, like Was­sell’s have a core of play­ers from one school with their ros­ters filled out via a draft and the re­main­der are made up of a con­glom­er­ate of one or two play­ers from a hand­ful of dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties.

Although the games are of­fi­ci­ated by three ref­er­ees, there’s no shot clock, most teams aren’t run­ning of­fen­sive or de­fen­sive sets, ev­ery­one who makes the game gets an equal share of play­ing time and there aren’t coaches pa­trolling the side­line. Still, as

in­com­ing Ch­est­nut Hill fresh­man Lau­ren Crim noted, it’s a chance to see the quicker speed of the game and to start build­ing chem­istry with fu­ture team­mates.

“I think this league is per­fect for it be­cause you get to meet your new team­mates and play with them, not ev­ery­one is here, but all the lo­cal girls are,” Crim, a Lans­dale Catholic grad­u­ate, said. “It’s def­i­nitely faster, which is a huge ad­just­ment. You kind of click into it quickly, if you’ve been play­ing high school and AAU all of those years, it’s not that much dif­fer­ent. It’s the speed of the game and ad­just­ing to it.”

Crim’s team is struc­tured around a core of Ch­est­nut Hill play­ers, mostly guards, in­clud­ing sopho­mores Cassie Se­bold (Arch­bishop Wood) and Rachael Mil­lan (Lower Moreland)and sup­ple­mented with post play­ers from a hand­ful of dif­fer­ent col­leges.

In­com­ing Lafayette fresh­man Becca Mar­go­lis, a Coun­cil Rock North grad­u­ate, only has one fu­ture team­mate on her sum­mer league ros­ter, but so far it’s been work­ing well for her and sopho­more for­ward Natalie Ku­cowski. Their team, which is struc­tured around a core of Kutz­town play­ers, is in the mix for a top four play­off seed and Mar­go­lis has been us­ing the sum­mer to find a quicker pace of play.

“It’s a sum­mer league, so ev­ery game may not be as in­tense but this is some­thing I’d rather be do­ing than not,” Mar­go­lis, a point guard, said. “Be­ing able to see these girls I used to play against in high school who are now in col­lege, it’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence go­ing against that kind of strength and that kind of speed.”

While the league is a nice wel­come for the in­com­ing fresh­men, they know there’s still an­other big step to take up to in­sea­son col­le­giate bas­ket­ball. Even for the teams that are bring­ing in the full ros­ter each night, there’s only so much the new play­ers can pick up.

US­ciences sopho­more Jess Hu­ber, a North Penn grad­u­ate, played in the league last year be­fore she was a fresh­man and felt it ben­e­fit­ted her. At the same time, Hu­ber found there was still a lot to learn once she ac­tu­ally got on cam­pus and into her first team work­outs and prac­tices.

“You meet the team and get ac­cli­mated, which helps a lot, but you only kind of learn the of­fense,” Hu­ber said. “It’s more like pickup but you’re able to start build­ing chem­istry.”

The new­bies are also learn­ing that they won’t be able to get away with cer­tain things that worked for them in high school or AAU. Crim noted that it’s much harder to get to the rim, much less into the lane go­ing against play­ers who have time in a col­lege pro­gram.

Dur­ing her team’s game on Thurs­day, Crim was able to get into the lane and fin­ish, tak­ing a lit­tle con­tact for good mea­sure as part of an 18-point out­ing.

“I’m a fresh­man, I’m 18 and you’re go­ing up against girls who are 22, 23, so big­ger, stronger and older, al­most like when you’re a fresh­man in high school,” Crim said. “It’s Di­vi­sion II bas­ket­ball, it’s not go­ing to be a walk in the park.”

Jef­fer­son’s crew has had a nice sum­mer, with in­com­ing fresh­men Brid­get Ar­cidi­a­cono (Arch­bishop Wood) and Ha­ley Meinel (CB South) get­ting plenty of min­utes. Ch­est­nut Hill’s Abby Spratt (CB West) and Bri Hewlett (North Penn) are on the ros­ter with Crim on team Kelly Green while Sky Blue, which is Ar­ca­dia, fea­tures Souderton grad Sami Fa­lencki. In­com­ing Millersville fresh­man Sam Brusha (Abing­ton) in on Golden Sun while Cen­te­nary’s Jess McKen­zie (North Penn) is on Lime Green and Sal­is­bury’s Lau­ren Fortes­cue (Ply­mouth Whitemarsh) plays for Royal Blue, those ros­ters a mash-up of var­i­ous col­leges.

Hu­ber and her team­mates on US­ciences’ Ma­roon have been get­ting to know two of their fresh­men in Tay­lor Hamm (Perk Val­ley) and Jules Gura (St. Basil Academy). Gura, like the other ris­ing fresh­men, hasn’t taken play­ing in the league lightly.

“It’s re­ally ben­e­fi­cial get­ting to play in a game sit­u­a­tion with other peo­ple on your team and learn­ing how they like to play and do well,” Gura said. “The play­ers here are a lot stronger. Com­ing from be­ing a se­nior in high school, you’re one of the strong­est play­ers on the floor and here you’re play­ing peo­ple who are just as, if not stronger than you and you have to find ways to ad­just to that.”

For Was­sell and class­mate Molly Mas­cianto­nio (Arch­bishop Car­roll), the ex­pe­ri­ence has been good, even if they’re not play­ing with the full Holy Fam­ily ros­ter. They’re get­ting to play with fu­ture team­mates in Jada Smith and El­iz­a­beth Radley while coach Melissa Dunne is a fre­quent ob­server who’s been able to give Was­sell and Mas­cianto­nio some feed­back after each game.

Mostly, it’s the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing words re­ally can’t do jus­tice to, even if they’re com­ing from some­one who’s been through it them­selves.

“I know it’s go­ing to be hard from what peo­ple were telling me and from hav­ing my older sis­ters but this has ben­e­fit­ted more than I thought it would,” Was­sell said. “They can tell you how hard it’s go­ing to be but you won’t know un­til you ex­pe­ri­ence it your­self.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Jenkintown grad­u­ate, Emma Dor­shim­mer, squares to shoot at a women’s NCAA sum­mer bas­ket­ball league July 19, 2018.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lower Moreland grad­u­ate Rachel Mil­lan, of Ch­est­nut Hill Col­lege, looks to pass at a women’s NCAA sum­mer bas­ket­ball league July 19.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Cait­lyn Cun­ning­ham, a Mount St. Joe’s grad­u­ate, pulls up to shoot at a women’s NCAA sum­mer bas­ket­ball league.

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