DCU Mercy basketball is in a period of transition. However, not all periods of transition go as smoothly as this (just ask Brett Brown and his Philadelphia 76ers about how a young team can struggle).
Head Coach Mark Ingle has had no problem blooding the youngsters this year and he hopes that a new bright era is in store for his youthful squad.
“We’ve a very young team this year. Two of our most experienced players, Suzanne Maguire and Megan Hopkins, left last year to join Liffey Celtics and Lindsay Peat is taking a backward step with this being her final year in college.
“We’re building a new team and because of that lack of experience we’ve been a little bit inconsistent. Despite that we’re not sitting in too bad of a position in fifth place in the league.
“We’ve had some really talented young players come in to fill their shoes like Caroline Stewart and Katie and Peggy Black.”
Stewart is one of two Americans – the maximum an Irish club team is permitted to field. She played her college basketball in the States at Boston University.
Rachel Brittenham, another player from the United States, played with Wofford College in South Carolina
Ingle believes that having the knowledge and experience of Americans who have played at a high level is of benefit to every player in the squad.
“We lost two of our experienced players last year so having the likes of Rachel and Caroline has brought the rest of the team on.
“I think it’s only good for the game here that we can get such high-class players playing in the National League.”
DCU produced a shock 40 point victory over league table-toppers Meteors in the first leg of their National Cup quarter-final and Ingle puts this sort of performance down to that elusive mix of quality and good old-fashioned hard work.
“We beat Meteors really comprehensively which was great. Barring a disaster we should win the tie on the aggregate system.
“We’ve improved recently and a lot of it is thanks to Ken Robinson who has come in and been involved with the physical training of the girls. He’s gotten them in peak condition to play basketball.
“I’ve never seen them in better shape. We’re able to go the full game and use high-pressure tactics like the full court press.
“You can only really play that style if you’re at full fitness and the team really are to be fair to them.”
Ingle’s son Sean is continuing the family tradition of basketball in fine style and coaches the DCU Freshers team.
The firm link between the University and the club offers a pathway for college players to get to the highest level and attracts some of the best in the country to DCU.
“We have a real mix of players but the link is definitely there if they’re of the right standard. Some great young players like Megan Connolly and Sinead Hession attend DCU and have been given facilities to improve their skills as well as their academic education.”
The win over Meteors will have provided a big confidence boost but Ingle knows there’s a long way to go before his players can think of lifting silverware.
“Success in any competition would be a big plus as we don’t have unrealistic expectations. But it looks like we’ll be in a cup semi-final so you never know.”
One thing seems certain for DCU Mercy. The future of the basketball club looks very positive indeed.
By Kevin Taylor