Baskerville revving up her Friar engine

·6 min read

Oct. 23—NEW YORK — Mary Baskerville entered her sophomore season with the Providence College women's basketball team as a unanimous selection to the preseason Big East all-league team. All she's done in both years since is lead the Friars in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and field-goal percentage.

When the Big East released its 2021-22 preseason all-league team at its media day Tuesday, the senior's name was nowhere to be found.

Did she feel angry or snubbed? Perhaps, though she wouldn't come out and say it. Does she have something to prove? The Enfield native was excited to talk about that.

"Definitely motivating," Baskerville said. "Everybody has their own opinions. At the end of the day, I have to come out and play my game each night during the season and show them what I deserve.

"I have to show that I can be consistent. I think that I've been able to improve year after year. But now I have to put it all together and do it every day, show up and be the player that I can be."

The Friars open their season Nov. 9 against Yale at home at Mullaney Gymnasium. They begin their 20-game Big East schedule at home against Villanova on Dec. 3. They'll host UConn at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Jan. 30 and travel to Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 27, which will be Senior Day for the Huskies..

Baskerville, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 12.7 points on 53.8 percent shooting from the floor, 6.5 rebounds, a league-leading 1.8 blocked shots, and 1.4 steals as a junior. PC struggled through a COVID-ravaged 7-14 season (4-10 Big East) that saw a number of its scheduled games — including a home date with UConn — get canceled.

She'll enter her senior season with 915 points, 597 rebounds, and a program-best 247 blocked shots. She has ranked in the Big East's top 10 in rebounds and the league's top five in blocked shots and field-goal percentage all three of her years, and is the two-time reigning blocked shot leader.

She wants more.

"I've been working to get better all around, building on my strengths and adding to my game," Baskerville said. "I want to be more comfortable on the perimeter, dribbling more, expanding my leadership responsibilities now that I am a senior. I feel like I have to control myself yet be able to get my team where we need to be. I need to have confidence in myself as well as facilitate for my teammates."

If the Friars, who were picked eighth in the Big East preseason coaches poll, want to be successful, Baskerville needs to stay on the floor. It's never a lack of talent or effort that puts on her on the bench. It's fouls.

In her 83 career games, she has fouled out 14 times and has averaged a foul every seven minutes she plays. In PC's loss at UConn last January, she picked up two fouls in the opening 3:03 and a third eight seconds after she re-entered in the second quarter. What had been a close game after one quarter was decided by halftime.

The longer she's on the court, the better for the Friars.

"She understands that and she kept getting better at it last year," PC coach Jim Crowley said. "She has the capabilities to be a high-level defender. But a lot of it is conditioning, which she has improved in, experience, which she has, and managing her frustrations, which comes with maturity.

"Is she going to go the whole year without fouling out? I won't go that far. But she knows that we need her on the floor. And when Mary knows her teammates need her, and her teammates let her know they need her, she'll be there for them."

For Baskerville, staying out of foul trouble means staying with fundamentals.

"Body control and controlling my emotions," she said. "It's one of those things. It's like I'll make a bad play and then I'll come down and commit a bad foul. I can't compound my mistakes. I have to be able to move on to the next play. Knowing that my team needs me on the floor is a motivating factor to do that."

While Baskerville is capable of being a double-double machine, that will be only half of her responsibilities with this season's Friars. She and Alyssa Geary are the team's only seniors, PC's 13-player roster features six freshmen and two sophomores.

It's a challenge Crowley is confident that she's up for.

"It's been great to watch Mary not only develop as a basketball player but as a young woman, to grow confident in who she is," Crowley said. "We're going to need all of her basketball skills this year but more important we need all of her leadership. Her voice and her actions have an incredible impact on our players. I tell her that speaks volumes about her. Some people shy away from that responsibility but she does not. She's been a great leader so far and I'm sure she will continue to be."

"We have such a young team and there are enough new players that it brings a new mentality," Baskerville added. "We're going to go out there and work hard and be a team that will be different. Our seniors will show the younger players the mentality and work ethic we want them to have. There's still a lot to learn and building these relationships with them has made me a better person."

Baskerville, a member of the 2020 Big East all-academic team, is on track to earn her degree in psychology from Providence in May and she said that she'll be moving on in at least one way.

With the NCAA blanket waiver from last season, Baskerville will have one year of eligibility after this season and she will use it in 2022-23 as a graduate transfer. But where? She would not disclose where she was headed.

"I'll definitely be taking that fifth year," Baskerville said. "I think I've decided where I want to do it at."

But, first, there's some work at PC to do.

"My dreams were to come from Enfield High where I filled a role and I wanted to do the same thing here," Baskerville said. "Coach Crowley believed in me that I could be an impact player. I wanted to grow and be a key player and a go-to player at Providence. I think I've met that expectation.

"I hope people remember me as someone who worked hard, worked to be that go-to player, and was a great teammate."

And proved the Big East coaches wrong.

"She knows what her abilities are," Crowley said. "But it's also about what you do and you have to be on the floor to do it. She's looking forward to that opportunity."

For coverage of all sports in the JI's 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women's basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.

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