BOWDOIN COLLEGE SENIOR Kaitlin Donahoe will be counted on to help lead the 2012-13 Polar Bear women’s basketball team.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE SENIOR Kaitlin Donahoe will be counted on to help lead the 2012-13 Polar Bear women’s basketball team.


The Bowdoin College men’s and women’s basketball squads are scheduled to hit the hardcourt for real this weekend to begin their respective 2012-13 seasons.

Bowdoin women

The Bowdoin women will sport much youth and inexperience, with a half dozen freshmen coming in to replace a talented and graduated senior squad.

Having moved on are Jill Henrikson from Bath (teamleading 32.5 minutes played, 16.7 points per game, 192 rebounds, 78 steals, 53 3-pointers), guard Amy Hackett (29.2 minutes, 8.8 ppg, 58 assists), forward Nicole Coombs (4.2 ppg), guard Ellery Gould (29.8 minutes, 7.00 ppg, 138 rebounds, 51 assists) and forward Alexa Barry (251 minutes. 6.8 ppg, 160 rebounds, 40 steals).

BOWDOIN COLLEGE senior co-captain Max Staiger.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE senior co-captain Max Staiger.

This season will begin with a learning curve as head coach Adrienne Shibles tries to blend the older and newer players.

The season is set to kick off Friday night (8 p.m.) versus Rhode Island College as part of the Babson College Tip-Off Tournament.

And, before the Polar Bears can celebrate the holidays, they’ll have already played the University of New England, Southern Maine, Colby, UMaine-Farmington, Clarkson and Bates. Talk about pan to the fire.

“We have six first-years, so we’re incredibly young this year,” said Shibles in her fifth year (91-26). “Our leadership will come. We lost five fantastic seniors, but we’re fortunate to have senior point guard Kaitlin Donahoe (27.3 minutes. 10.1 ppg, 85 rebounds, 88 assists. 40 steals). She’s a fantastic floor general and leader for us.

“There certainly is a lot of teaching that we’re doing in practice that you need to do with a young team,” added Shibles. “There’s a lot of things to learn, but the great thing about this group is that they’re working incredibly hard. They’re very focused and we’ve seen dramatic improvement each day.”

Shibles is one who subscribes to a defensive slant. She’s is hoping the added height will help.

“I think there’s some different directions that we could go in,” continued Shibles. “We’re still trying to figure it out, but absolutely, in transition we’re looking really hard to the inside post and we have really good size. Defensively, with our height we’re making sure that we’re using that to protect the paint.”

In the past when the Polar Bears got to the postseason, other teams presented big match-up problems inside.

“(Freshman) Shannon Brady is 6-foot, from the Boston area, and I believe a Boston Globe All-star,” said Shibles. “She’s incredibly athletic, moves with the ball, a shot blocker, nice hook shot. Someone we’re really counting on to help us this year.”

Classmate Nina Hadzibabic is a 5-11 guard from New York. “She has incredible speed, picking up the concepts really quickly and is a great shooter. A quick defender, and we will also count on her to help us out,” said Shibles.

Other first-years include 5-9 guard LeShauna Phinazee, 6-3 forward Emily Stetkiewicz, 5-10 forward Maddy Fulton and 5-9 guard Selena Lorry from Kittery Point and Fryeburg Academy.

“We don’t have a lot of veteran players this year other than Kaitlin and Anna Prohl (junior forward, averaged 16.7 minutes last year) who have shown a lot of leadership. And, then there is Megan Phelps (sophomore forward from Bar Harbor), who will get a lot of time in the post and may well spend some time at guard as well.”

This may be a baptism by fire.

“With a young team there has to be a lot of patience,” allowed Shibles. “Which is very hard given the NESCAC rules where we can’t start until November 1st. So it’s walking that fine line where you’re focusing on the fundamentals and being very in tuned with every little detail that’s taking place on the court.

“But, at the end of the day we also have to get the plays in … we have to get the system going and get ready to play. You have to pick up these concepts very quickly and be very disciplined in everything we do, we just don’t have that much time to spend.”

And then there is that schedule. “It’s a very tough schedule and there’s an intense start to the season,” said Shibles.

No more Hanley

The men, who are scheduled to compete Friday in the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Tournament (Clark, 7:30 p.m.), will be without the graduated Will Hanley.

Hanley is gone after averaging 33.9 minutes, 18.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, while being named First Team All-NESCAC for the second straight year. He was also the Maine Men’s Basketball Coach and Writers Association Player of the Year. He is the only Bowdoin player to amass more than 1,400 points (1,490), 800 rebounds (883) and 200 assists.

Bowdoin graduated five seniors, and another notable was Ryan O’Connor, who averaged 14.2 points and became the 22nd player in program history to surpass 1,000 points.

But, head coach Tim Gilbride (28 season, 381-280) is confident others will step up to the task at hand.

“He was one of the best players we’ve had in awhile,” said Gilbride of Hanley. “With that said, we just won’t attack things the same way … we will run things differently and count on a variety of people to fill in. If we get open jump shots that guy will take it … if we get inside those guys will take it. We’re counting on a lot of guys to contribute what Will had contributed.

“We won’t be funneling things into one person like we did last year with Will. This year we’ll work things off of everybody … the guys who can shoot will shoot and the guys who can do other things will do other things.”

Two senior returnees, 6-6 forward Nick Lenker and 6-10 center Max Staiger, “have done a great job as leaders and have been working extremely hard,” allowed Gilbride. “Both of them got time up front withn rebounding and defending. And, hopefully that rebounding will lead to some scoring, along with John Swords (7-0 sophomore, who averaged 12 minutes and four points).

Of Swords, Gilbride said “He’s improved a lot over last year and continues to work hard. Between the three of them we’re looking for some good size and some good depth.”

In the backcourt look for Brian Hurley, a 5-10 point guard who started as freshman and averaged 6.5 ppg and 4.2 assists. “It seems like when you play as a freshman and come back you are just a little more confident, a bit more poise… we’re expecting a lot from him.”

Junior Andrew Madlinger is a 6-3 guard who started also last year and scored at a 9.7 point clip. “He comes back realizing that he’s also going to have to score a little more, shoot a little more, take charge a little more,” said Gilbride, who will also look to Keegan Pieri (6-6 swingman), who played behind Hanley “and we’re counting on him to do a lot of things for us.”

Former football player Grant White, a 6-4 guard, has looked impressive, but came down with an ankle injury.

“I think we’re a smart, hard-working group,” said Gilbride. “We’re working a lot on man defense and we need to do good team defense, get good pressure on the ball and good rotations off the ball. We seem to be doing a nice job of that, probably earlier than we have in other years. I’m hoping that will be a strength of ours, that we’ll be a tough defensive team.”

On the offensive end, Gilbride has high hopes.

“I think we’re pretty smart and have shown some patience. Rather that get it to a guy and let him score, we’re going to have to let stuff come though to help develop our offense … and we’re showing a little poise and patience in that we can have a well-balanced team that operates well within the confines of what we’re trying to do.”

Freshmen include 6-2 guard Jake Donnelly from Williston, Vt., 6-2 guard Lucas Hausman from Westport, Conn., and 6-5 forward Matt Pelecki from Southborough, Mass.

“This is a team that might be able to surprise some people,” added Gilbride. “I think we have some pretty talented guys who are working very hard. We just haven’t figured out just yet which combinations might be the most effective. But, I’m pretty optimistic about where we’re at and where we want to go.”

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