Jan. 30, 2012
Sophomore Kristen Doherty is gradually emerging as a key member of a very young women's basketball team at Boston College.
The guard/forward was a key member of the team's defensive unit last year as a freshman, finishing the year ninth in the ACC with 69 steals while averaging 4.9 rebounds and 30.3 minutes a game. Now, the defensive stalwart hopes to emerge as more of an offensive threat to help fill the void center star Carolyn Swords left when she graduated.
"Playing with Carolyn and [Stefanie Murphy and Jaclyn Thoman], it's not that I didn't have to be an offensive threat, but the offensive basically took care of itself," Doherty said. "This year, we don't have a go-to scorer, so we all have to really step up. I feel like I really took it upon myself to realize I've always been able to score in high school and the team needs me to step up."
Taking extra shots in the gym, working to make adjustments and being more aggressive on offense has paid off so far for Doherty. Currently second on the Eagles with 9.8 points per game, she has taken advantage of having the second-most field goal attempts made on the team.
The emphasis she's been putting on her offensive game and the challenges of learning first-year defensive coach Timothy Eatman's complicated systems hasn't at all affected her defensive play. She once again leads the team with 27 steals and her 69 defensive rebounds are good for second.
"It was difficult [learning the systems] at first because I had the way I played defense last year stuck in my head," Doherty noted. "But I think Coach Eatman's defenses are great; they're exactly what we needed. They fit our team and he knows the personnel on our team and what they can and cannot do, which makes it easy for us to be successful in our defenses.
"Even though we haven't come up with the wins yet doesn't mean that what we're doing isn't working. It's just a matter of time."
Despite her individual success, enduring this season's struggles hasn't been easy for Doherty. But she fully believes that the team will endure because of the team, and the sophomore class in particular, is so close knit.
"We told each other when times get tough we have to be out there with each other," Doherty said of classmates Shayra Brown, Korina Chapman, Tiffany Ruffin, Tessah Holt and Katie Zenevitch. "From the beginning we've been together so we play hard for each other."
With three to four sophomores starting on a given night, the chemistry this very close group has makes a difference. It's not just confined to her class alone though.
"We're all so close," Doherty said. "We went Europe together and have had these experiences together and that really helps us on the court because we have the bond that you need to play together and trust each other out there.
"Without that trip we would have been struggling at the beginning of the season," she continued, noting the10-day trip to Europe over the summer, which gave them the chance to connect on and off the court, and get a head start learning Coach Eatman's systems.
As for Doherty, she's hoping to emerge as more of a vocal leader. A field general on the floor, she's used to directing people and leading by example, but she'll admit she needs to speak up more often. She also says it's important for her to stay positive and help keep the team together during this cold stretch.
"I'm trying to step up in more of a leading role to make sure the girls are all ready every night and know we can go out there and win despite how the beginning of the season has gone," she said. "There's nothing saying we can't turn it around. We need to stick together, stay positive and motivated each day at practice."
In the end, Doherty's scoring touch, defensive prowess and leadership abilities will make her key to the future of the program's success. As they gain experience, she says they'll be able to finish off their ACC opponents and win the close games.
"You can see it on the court. Our potential is endless," Doherty said. "We have everybody we need as a team to succeed. It's only a matter of time and hard work."
Written by Jen Dobias