ST. ROSE more than any other program surprised everyone this fall. Many including yours truly expected St. Rose to be in a major rebuilding mode. But a few things happen this fall, first Abby Antognoli looked liked a player of the year candidate, they picked up a big time transfer and then found a little thing called chemistry. Coach Mary Beth Chambers discovered she had a crew of players that were willing to buy in. Now the question is will all that translate to the season?
There is no question that St. Rose must have players willing to play roles. It without question is going to be the key to the season. They have a an elite D1 point guard, a seasoned front line and shooters up and down the roster. There starting 5 are all high IQ players, in fact they one of the smartest teams in the Shore. They also have players that have played in big games during their careers. Now how dedicated this group is will be discovered early. Because if their was one team whose chemistry was disrupted by the Covid 19 its this group. In the fall they had a roster of kids showing up for games and workouts. Then when the lockdown came around. It appeared that tight knit group did not seem so tight anymore. While the superpowers of the Shore were working out as a team and staying ready. The St. Rose crew went their separate ways. How will this affect the team’s chemistry? We certainly are going to find out quickly.
Last year St. Rose had as much talent as any team in the state. The started the year off as the #1 team in the state. Then RBC blew their doors off, not once but twice. It was a team that there is no other way to say it, than to say it..SELFISH with players refusing to buy in unless there was something in it for them. But a funny thing happen to St. Rose at the end of the year. They started to play for each other. They started to play Mary Beth Chambers team basketball. It just may have had an affect on the returning players this season. Because in the fall St. Rose looked as good as any team in the Shore not named SJV. If they can stay healthy and find a little more help off the bench… this is a dangerous crew.
St. Rose has 4 very experienced players returning. Nyisa Erving is the wild card. She has played very little basketball in the past 3 years. But the door is wide open if she will buy in. That would give St. Rose 5 legit starters. They can go as deep as 6 players and hoping they can develop that 7th and 8th player before the season ends. They are in the same POD as Manasquan a team that should be in the state Top 10… a team they manhandle in the fall league. There team passing and defense is going to be a issue for everyone this season… including SJV. That’s because they have 3 elite defenders on the wings and Mo Stapleton is as smart of a off ball defender as there is. … this team has a chance to shock everyone. But again it comes down to will players accept their roles. The best skill set any player can bring to the St. Rose table, is buying in to the culture of the program.
Senior ABIGAIL ANTOGNOLI this fall may have been the best player in the Shore Conference. Strike that, this fall Abby was the best player in the Shore Abby has always been known for her motor. But this fall she showed she could a complete player. Her ability to elevate teammates games while still being able to dominate with the ball was on full display. She is still the ultimate on ball defender., she is just bigger and stronger these days. Right now she is the total package on both sides of the ball. She also is an elite 50/50 rebounder. She is deadly from the three, in the lane or in transition. Her leadership will be the key to the St. Rose season. If she is plays anything like she did in the fall the Lafayette University bound guard will make St. Rose will a tough out for anyone.
Senior Mo Stapleton was so good this fall all you could do was shake your head. He basketball IQ is off the charts as is her passing and off the ball defense. She is the backbone of St. Rose’s defense. Now throw in the elite shooting and Mo Stapleton is as good as it gets. She committed to Stonehill this fall. What people will notice is a new found intensity when she plays. There is clearly fire in the belly. If Mo Stapleton has the year many expect her to have, St. Rose will get to another level this season
Sophomore ROSIE SCOGNAMIGLIO just may have been the most impressive new comer to the Shore Conference. This fall is showed everyone she is going to be a problem for years to come before moving on to the high major D1 level. The chemistry between she and her teammates was a thing of beauty. Just like her jumper and defense. She will be a force for St. Rose all season on both sides of the ball. This is a double figure scorer at all three levels and a coach’s dream. St. Rose may have picked up the most important part of the puzzle right here. ROSIE IS NEW FOUND MEDICINE FOR ST. ROSE.
Junior NIASYA ERVIN may hold all the keys to St. Rose’s season. Last year at times Ervin had trouble adjusting. This year she is ready to have a breakout season. She has willed her body into shape. In the fall she showed a real ability to score and pass the ball. Her basketball IQ like her teammates is off the charts. She is a tough hard nose rebounder and can get tough hard nosed points in the lane. The big question is what her role will be and more importantly will she accept. Because no player needs to buy in more than Niasya Ervin if St. Rose hopes to make big noise this season. Niasya Ervin, could wind up being one of the biggest stories in the state this year…
Senior LAYLA LAWS showed she is more than ready this fall. She played the role of superstar role player. She looks more and more like a Division one player everyday. Her ability to rebound and fill lanes is just what the doctor ordered for St. Rose. Now throw in the length and quickness. She has gone from a player looking to shoot three’s to picking her spots and killing opponents with her speed and effort. Somehow Layla Laws has become a real upgrade for St. Rose frontcourt. Strong words when you consider the two players she is replacing were All Shore D1 players… but right now Layla Laws is that good!
Sophomore MAGGIE CAVANAUGH clearly is going to make me regret leaving her off the ALL FRESHMAN TEAM. Not only is she playing with extreme confidence. This fall she looked like a player that could take over games at times with her passing or scoring. She was a gym rat all fall and now it’s paying off in a big way. Her jump shot is now a weapon as is her defense. She has stepped up as player. Last year she got spot minutes, this year she will start or be the first player off the bench. If St. Rose wants to win its POD and make a deep run in the SCT. Maggie Cavanaugh is going to have to play a big role.
Most believe St. Rose does not have much past their top 6. Folks this is a massive mistake. Because make no mistake AVERY MORGAN is a player that is going to give this team a real shot in the arm. Morgan is athletic and has a big time basketball IQ. She understands the game. She also has played against top competition her entire life. She simply has not been given the chance because of the massive amount of talent in front of her all these years…. I believe that Avery Morgan is going to play important minutes for St. Rose. She can score and rebound, she plays way bigger than her size. In fact if Avery Morgan found herself starting at times …IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME ONE BIT.
Juniors DARBY SHERMAN and TORI CROVO will both get a chance to show they can make contribution to the team. Darby is a excellent shooter who is not afraid to shoot in a big spot. She has played AAU basketball for years and knows Coach Chambers system. If she steps up she could give coach Chambers another weapon off the bench. Tori Crovo is an excellent athlete and could gain valuable experience as the season more forward. She clearly is a talented young lady.
Mary Beth Chambers walked into the toughest job in the state 3 years ago. St. Rose is now becoming the type of program that the community can rally around again. They have good kids and play a real competitive schedule once again. Gone of the days of bad non conference games and weak competition. As St. Rose will play 3 Top 20 schools OUT OF THEIR POD ..Manchester… Immaculate Conception and RBC. They also have a date with Holmdel who has a chance to be a Top 20 team. It’s clear Coach Chambers is not trying to sneak into the SCT Top 8. She wants her kids to earn it….THIS WEEK SHE WILL FIND OUT IF THE CHEMISTRY ST ROSE FOUND IN THE FALL… IS STILL THERE!