“I’ve got to get used to coaching four guards,” he said. “I think that could be one of our strengths.”
That may be an understatement. Point guard Liz Millea will continue to be a playmaker for Cooperstown, and most likely its leading scorer this season. As a freshman, Millea stepped in as a starter at the beginning of the season; by the end of it, she was named the Section Three Class C tournament MVP.
Barring injuries, she will be the face of Cooperstown girls basketball for the next three years. But she will have to adjust to being the leading scorer and having teams key on her rather than Murdock or Cring.
Fortunately for her and Niles, Cooperstown’s strength this season is guards. Seniors Maggie Hall and S.J. Morosko are both good athletes and good shooters with the ability to make opposing defenses pay if they key on Millea. Junior Christina Noto and sophomore Jennifer Flynn were both key players on a junior varsity squad that went undefeated last season and were also starters on the varsity softball squad that made it to the section finals.
So for Cooperstown the question isn’t about talent. It is about leadership, about chemistry and about replacing irreplaceable players while adjusting to a system that takes advantage of the team’s strengths.
“The other night I had four guards out there with Mallory and I thought it went pretty well,” Niles said. “Mallory has been great as far as a forward/center. We can have two bigs out there, but Mallory is just a 5-foot-4 big.”
Niles said that defense and perimeter shooting will be strength for the team, but, “we are going to have to make a priority out of rebounding.”
It will be a process for Cooperstown. “It could get tricky until we get used to it,” Niles said.