Three freshmen join Fairfield University Women’s Basketball, and all are looking to immediately leave their mark on the team.
In her senior year of high school in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Cooper averaged 24.8 points and 10 rebounds per game. Standing at 6 feet, 2 inches, this power forward has been named her high school’s Athlete of the Year three times and the city of Sudbury’s Athlete of the Year twice. As a member of Team Ontario, she helped lead her team to three national titles and earned First Team All-Star honors. Also, Cooper was on the Canada Junior National Team as well as the Team Canada three-on-three World Championships squad. Clearly, Cooper has performed exceedingly well over the years and looks to be a contributing player for the Stags. Expect for her to be an important presence in the paint with the departures of Brittany MacFarlane ’13 and Laura Vetra ’13.
Carey is a 6-foot-tall forward who scored 2,174 points over her high school career at Saint Joseph Hill Academy in Staten Island, N.Y. She holds a pair of top-10 single season scoring performances in Staten Island history, scoring 610 points as a junior and 727 points as senior, good for second all-time. In addition to that, she is a four-time Catholic High School MVP and averaged 26.4 points and 15 rebounds per game in her senior season. Carey was named a three-time All-Star as chosen by the Staten Island Advance, New York Daily News, and the New York State Sportswriters. She also received the Nike Game Changer Award in her junior year and was named the New York Post Player of the Week three times. These huge numbers and accolades earned by Carey should immediately translate into ample playing minutes in a depleted front court this basketball season. “Everybody’s really nice and welcoming, and that makes the chemistry on the team just as great. If you get along off the court, you’re going to get along on the court,” said Carey.
Hailing from Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor City, N.J., Miller is a 6-foot 1-inch forward who averaged 19.9points, nine rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in her senior season of high school. In her junior season, she averaged 18 points per game to help Cedar Creek to a state title. She finished her high school career with a remarkable 1,696 career points and 940 career rebounds. Aside from being a 4-time All-Cape Atlantic League selection, she was named two-time team MVP, Atlantic City Press Player of the Year, and First-Team All South Jersey. With such strong rebounding and blocking numbers, she can serve as a defensive roadblock for opposing teams. If Miller can play with the Stags basketball team the same way that she has throughout high school, expect for her to become instrumental to the team’s success and defensive prowess. When asked about how she has adjusted to the college atmosphere, Miller said, “Our teammates make it really easy and help us out a lot with any questions that we have. It hasn’t been as challenging as I probably thought. I don’t think I could have asked to be in a better situation when it comes to the team.”
When talking about how the girls can transfer their basketball skills over from high school to college, Miller said, “It’s really hard to compare to high school because it’s so much different and we went from such a small pool of people to a bigger one. It’s all about adjusting.”
“I feel like in high school we were more dominant and now everybody’s just as dominant so it’s like learning to work with that,” said Carey about the transition.
These freshman girls are ready to accept the challenge of playing big minutes in their first year on the team. “I guess we have big shoes to fill considering we’re just freshmen, but we’re working hard and trying. So hopefully we can fill the spots,” said Carey.
In a MAAC Conference filled with tough opponents like Marist and Iona, these girls are also confident about their success this season. “We don’t really know too much since we haven’t played in [the conference,] but I think that we should be ranked higher than we are. We have a really good shot at competing with some tough contenders,” said Miller.
Senior Christelle Akon-Akech feels very confident about these new additions to the team. “The freshmen are really involved … every single one of them can bring something to the table, and we can already see that. Obviously they have growth to do as individuals when it comes to playing, but they have already had a big impact on the team, which is a plus.”
Coach Joe Frager believes the freshmen will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their skills this season. “It’s sort of been a crash course for our freshmen. Miller and Cooper and Kelsey Carey are all going to get an opportunity to play; they’re all going to see minutes,” said Coach Frager about his new players.
“It’s not going to be learn-by-watching; they’re going to get their opportunities because we still don’t know the fate of Casey Smith with the NCAA. So with her status up in the air, Miller and Carey are going to get minutes for us right away.
I think our freshmen are really good. I like our freshmen a lot. It’s just a matter of how they handle the ups and downs of the season.”
Casey Smith ‘16 is awaiting an NCAA waiver decision on her status for the 2013-14 season. So, until her status is determined, expect for these freshmen to receive ample minutes.