INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Deep and talented women’s team ready for big season
By : By John Hartrick
Since moving up to the NCAA Division I level four years ago, the Binghamton women’s basketball team has been a competitive America East Conference squad despite two key deficiencies — a lack of depth and a lack of size and strength at the post positions. The 2005-06 campaign, however, promises to be a different story. Binghamton has what head coach Rich Conover calls his deepest and most talented squad.
“This year, we have a lot of options,” Conover said. “Our three seniors are all proven scorers and last season’s freshman class has also developed some go-to players. This is definitely the deepest team since I’ve been here.”
In the paint, Binghamton has been long on heart despite being short on size and strength. This year, that should not be an issue. “Last season, several players had to move out of their natural positions and battle bigger, stronger post players,” Conover said. “They responded well, but this season we have the talent up front to move them back into the positions where they are most comfortable.”
As in past seasons, the Bearcats have scheduled a challenging non-conference slate this year, starting with the Nov. 20 season opener at Kansas. From there, Binghamton will face Syracuse, Harvard, Marshall, La Salle and Canisius.
After going 1-8 against non-conference foes last season, Conover is confident that the Bearcats’ experience will lead to better results this time around.
“We were still gelling as a team last year during the fall,” he said. “We lost a lot of close games during the non-conference schedule because of our lack of experience. We were facing good teams that knew how to win. We are in a much better position this season.”
While Binghamton has managed a four-year conference record of 37-31 during the regular season and has recorded a pair of top-three finishes, the goal this season is to have a deep run in the America East Tournament. Last season, as the No. 5 seed, the Bearcats suffered their fourth consecutive quarterfinal defeat, losing 80-65 to a No. 4 Vermont squad that shot a tournament-record 63 percent from the field.
“It was a frustrating way to end the season because we did not play poorly against Vermont,” Conover said. “They just shot unbelievably, but still, it hurt for us to lose early in the tournament again.”
This year, however, the potential is there to reverse the Bearcats’ recent history.
“Even two years ago, when we were the No. 2 seed, we had some glaring weaknesses that were exposed in the tournament,” Conover said. “We overachieved during that regular season but our weaknesses caught up to us. This season, we have the depth, talent, size and strength to play well throughout the regular season and to hopefully make a run in the postseason.”