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January 10, 2011

 

Cortland women keep progressing

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Despite being nine games into the season, with only a lone loss in those contests, Coach Jeannette Mosher still sees her SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team as a work in progress.
Not that she was all that disappointed with what the Red Dragons accomplished on Saturday afternoon, Cortland staying unbeaten in SUNY Athletic Conference play with a 64-49 victory over visiting Oswego at Corey Gymnasium.
Senior guard Jen Polan came off the bench to make 5-of-8 shots from 3-point range for a career-high 15 points, while junior transfers Brittany Cohen and Molly Byrne finished with 14 points apiece as Cortland pulled away in the second half after having led by just three points at the break.
Mosher just sees plenty room for improvement through the probing eyes of a coach, 10 missed free throws and losing the battle of the backboards 39-29 — Cortland without 6-foot-1 starting junior center Megan Maycumber for the second straight contest because of a stress fracture — among the areas she thinks her 8-1 squad must improve upon.
“We did a of things well,” Mosher would admit after improving to 3-0 in the conference heading into Tuesday’s crucial road trip to a take on New Paltz squad that is off to a perfect 4-0 SUNYAC start.
“Obviously, from a coaching standpoint, I’m going to look at the things we need to work on, so I need to also realize we’re doing a lot of good things, too. That’s just human nature,” she added.
Getting off to better starts is certainly on the Mosher wish list.
This past Wednesday in a 69-59 non-conference home court win over Clarkson, the Red Dragons trailed 25-17 in the first half before getting their act together.
Against an Oswego team that arrived to Corey Gymnasium with a 2-0 conference record but looking to shake a four-game losing habit, Cortland fell behind 21-13 in the first half before the defense kept the Lakers scoreless for a seven-minute stretch to turn things around.
“WE JUST KIND of come out flat sometimes,” said Cortland point guard Cohen, one of a handful of transfers from an Onondaga Community College team that played for a national championship a year ago.
“We really upped our defense in the second half and that leads to turnovers and that lets us run more. That’s what we want to do. We want to get primary fast breaks,” she added.
Oswego was forced into 21 turnovers, Cohen, Jennifer Patten and Caryn Crary with two steals apiece for the Red Dragons. The Lakers shot just 38 percent from the floor, with Kayla Ryan the lone double figure scorer with 11 points.
Junior forward Micki Volpini was also in double figures for the winners with 10 points while Mary Bruns — making her second start in place if Maycumber at center — topped the Red Dragons with six rebounds.
“It was just our defense,” said Polan of the Cortland turnaround, her five treys a career best as a Red Dragon. “We make a couple of changes in the locker room and then we come out and commit to it. Our defense created offense. And then it’s just sprinting the floor. We’re a running team. That’s what coach drills in our heads, run the floor, run the floor.”
And when Cohen is able to drive to the basket like she did in the second half, when she scored 11 of her 14 points, that opens up shots for others. The former Jamesville-DeWitt standout finished with 10 assists, often finding Polan and Byrne on the wings when her path to the basket was blocked by the Oswego defense.
Four of Polan’s 3-pointers came in the second half, including the connection from the left wing with just over 12 minutes remaining to ignite a 10-0 run when Oswego was within 35-33. Byrne buried a couple of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch, too.
“It just opens up so much and it helps me out, too,” said Polan of Cohen’s ability to penetrate defenses. “Last year I was handling the ball a lot, but now she can do that work and I just stand around. It’s easier, transition-wise.She can get the outlet (pass) or I can get the outlet. It just makes it flow more.”
POLAN, CRARY and Jen Collis out of Tully all played well off the bench for Cortland — Crary, Collis, Byrne and Maycumber the other former OCC players. Oswego also has an OCC influence with guards Kristen Diglio and Jenna Rossi aboard.
“It was really interesting to see how we’d all mesh together, but all of our playing styles are really similar,” said Cohen of the new additions to the defending conference champions. “Coach Coach Mosher’s style is just the same as our Coach (Mike) Wheeler from OCC, so it was easy to transition it.”
Still, Coach Mosher feels this team is still getting used to each other — which she thinks may explain some of Cortland’s slow starts. “I think they’re starting to figure some things out that they need to do earlier on,” she says.
“It does take a little bit of time,” Mosher added. “When you’ve got a whole mix of returners and new people, sometimes the biggest part if just communication. You know, talking. Should I say this, should I not say this. It’s just a whole communications thing. As that gets better every day, that will help us on the court.”

 

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