Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sobolewski Keeps Bringing in Talent

Even as the roster of recruits from the previous coaching regime leave, ISU women's basketball Coach Seton Sobolewski continues to bring in new talent.

ISU announced two more recruits Wednesday as the late signing period comes to a close. They are: 5-9 guard Brea Matthews, the North County (San Diego) Area player of the year (right); and Ashlee Rigter, a 6-4 center from New Zealand. (See her youtube highlights here, I believe she's No. 13):

Matthews brings size and athleticism to the wing position, where the Bengals struggled against the Big Sky's better teams last year -- especially after Chelsea Pickering went down with a knee injury. She averaged 15 points and -- probably more impressively, eight rebounds a game for a very good Mt. Carmel team.

Rigter, meanwhile, joins Ashleigh Vella, 6-1, and Shannon Byrne, 6-3, as likely center/power forwards in this recruiting class, as Sobolewski tries to address the fact the Bengals were frequently smaller at every position on the floor last year. With Matthews and Morgan Wohltman, 5-11, both coming in at the wing positions, and 6-1 Ashleigh Smith looking like a candidate at both the small and power forward slots, the Bengals appear to have recruited a lot of depth and flexibility in this class. Point guard Kaela Oakes rounds out the group of newcomers.
PS: Will There be an Ash-1, Ash-2, Ash-3?

You may have noticed that this year's recruiting class includes three girls whose first names are pronounced Ash-lee (although there are two different spellings represented). Just wondering if Sobolewski is going to assign numbers to each girl to differentiate? Or will they be known by their last names? Nicknames?

I did a little research, by the way, and Ashley (the Americanized spelling) was the second most popular name for girls in the United States in the 1990s, behind only Jessica. The trend must have held worldwide, because two of ISU's Ash-lees come from Down Under -- Vella from Australia and Rigter from New Zealand.

The Price of Success

When Ken Bone left Portland State to become the new basketball coach at Washington State this spring, he left a pair of legacies: back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances; and a spotty academic record that has cost the Vikings two scholarships and practice time for new coach Tyler Gleving and his team.

Bone made artful use of Division 1 transfers over the past two seasons, leading PSU to one regular season, and two post-season conference championships. The downside to that strategy, however, has been left for Gelving, an assistant to Bone who knew what he was getting into when he inherited the PSU job. When the NCAA released its Academic Progress Rate results, Portland State was well below the 925 target. As a result, the NCAA docked the PSU basketball program two scholarships, and reduced the amount of practice time Gelving can have with his squad by four hours a week -- 25 percent.

Gelving put on a brave front in this interview with the Oregonian: He pointed out that PSU has been successful with a reduced roster in the past, and that the limit in practice time, while regrettable, is something that can be overcome.

All of which is probably true, but the real pain may come as Gelving builds his roster in subsequent years. You have to think the PSU administration is going to be much less amenable to taking D-1 transfers, particularly those in questionable academic standing, in the future. Even JUCO transfers will likely be scrutinized much more closely, and JUCOs and D-1s have been the lifeblood of the PSU program over the years. Those doors, while not entirely closed to Gelving, are likely to be much more difficult to get through in the next few recruiting seasons.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

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