Women’s Basketball Entry Roundtable: Initial Outlook as the Doughty Era Begins

With the Marist women’s basketball season commencing on November 9 in a home game against Army, we gathered our writers to assess the team’s expectations for the 2023-24 season.

Who out of the team’s incoming class intrigues you the most?

Luke Sassa, Women’s Basketball Beat Writer:  Sticking out to me in the incoming class is freshman guard Julia Corsentino. The Monmouth County native became the all-time leading three-point scorer at Rumson-Fair Haven High School, earning Shore Sports Network Player of the Year honors for her efforts. When watching the tape, it’s clear she possesses the ability to consistently bury long-range threes from well beyond the arc. Her highlights are also peppered with a litany of catch-and-shoot threes, demonstrating an ability to score while playing off the ball. 

Her ability to provide spacing will be a welcome addition for a Marist team that finished eighth in the MAAC in three-point percentage in 2022-23, and her off-ball skills will come in handy with standout senior guard Kiara Fisher already in place to facilitate the offense. Another plus is her adept rebounding ability for a guard; she led RFH in rebounds during her junior season and finished with 6 rebounds per game as a senior. She is more than capable as a defender, finishing second on her team with 35 steals last year.

Ben Leeds, Women’s Basketball Beat Editor: Of Marist’s two incoming true freshmen, one that I have my eye on is Julia Corsentino. In high school, Corsentino was a four-year starter at Rumson-Fair Haven High School, scoring nearly 1,500 points in her career. Unlike players who rely on breaking down their defenders for open looks, Corsentino has great range from beyond the arc. With tougher defense at the collegiate level, long-range shooting is a tool that will always be in effect. 

At first glance, her game reminds me of Kendall Krick, the five-year Red Fox who graduated last year. Both are shifty, sharp-shooting guards that can get hot in a hurry from deep. It may take Corsentino some time to work her way into the rotation, but when she does, I believe she can be a difference-maker for the Red Fox offense. 

Cara Lacey, Director of Social Media & Graphics: Freshman Kate Robbins caught my eye when reading about the Red Foxes’ incoming class. Robbins is a 6’2” forward who arrives at Marist from Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, PA. During her high school career, she achieved 1,000 career points and was named a two-time PA Big56 First Team All-Section. Robbins is a force on defense, her ability to block shots and steal is exactly what the Red Foxes need. 

Robinson might find it difficult to find minutes on the court starting her freshman season considering the Red Foxes’ current forwards senior Zaria Shazer and sophomore Ciara Croker who seems likely to be starting this year for the team. It may take some time into the season to see Robinson, but I think she will be making a difference going forward defensively for this Marist team. 

Aidan Lavin, Assistant Editor: Redshirt sophomore guard Lexie Tarul has long awaited her opportunity to consistently play collegiate basketball. After sitting out her freshman year due to injury and seeing only two total minutes last season at Fordham, Tarul gets a fresh start at Marist. It will be exciting to see what the three-time She Got Game MVP can do for the Red Foxes. Tarul has a knack for scoring the basketball. 

At St. John’s prep high school, Tarul had scored 1,000 career points by her junior year. Her size as a 5’11’’ guard is certainly a favorable aspect of her game, keeping her from being a defensive liability if caught in a switch and having experience in a college environment should never be overlooked. Most importantly, Tarul has been said to be an excellent shooter from both mid and three-point range. 

Emely Batista, Contributor: Kate Robbins is one of Marist’s two incoming freshmen that stands out to me the most. Pittsburgh native Robbins is a 6’2 forward who was named  Almanac First Team all four years of high school. During her four years in high school, Robbins achieved 1,000 points and was named a two-time Big 56 First Team and the Almanac Rookie of the Year.

The Red Foxes will benefit greatly from Robbins’ outstanding defense and ability to steal and block shots. Along with Zaria Shazer and Erin Fox, Robbins’ impressive defense and shooting abilities will be advantageous to the team.  Even though it may take some time for Robbins to adjust and gain playing time as a freshman, I truly believe that she has the skills to contribute to the Red Fox defense.

Who do you think will be the team’s most valuable player this season?

Luke: Based on her steady improvements in scoring efficiency and volume, my answer to this question is senior guard Kiara Fisher. After missing the back half of her sophomore season with a shoulder injury, the Syracuse transfer returned in 2022-23 and saw her three-point percentage tick up 3.5% to a respectable 32.8% while averaging an additional 1.6 attempts per game from beyond the arc. 

If Fisher continues to improve from deep, it could really help her take her game to the next level; either way, she already has a very solid baseline as the team’s premier playmaker, leading the way with 3.4 assists per game last season, and second-leading scorer. Although senior forward Zaria Shazer led the Red Foxes in scoring and rebounding last season, her lack of an established three-point shot to this point gives her slightly less offensive upside compared to Fisher. This, coupled with Fisher’s superior playmaking abilities give her a slight edge as the team’s most valuable player.

Ben: If Marist is competing for a MAAC championship in March, it will be because Kiara Fisher steps forward as the team’s most valuable player. Fisher averaged 13.8 points last year and led the team in both assists and steals per game. Her big year earned her second-team all-MAAC honors at the end of the season, and I believe she will build off of it in a big way. With her backcourt mate Kendall Krick departing after last season, Fisher will have to take on more responsibility in the scoring department, making up for the 10-plus points that Krick averaged last year. 

Highlighted by her record-breaking 44-point explosion at Mount St. Mary’s last year, Fisher is undoubtedly a capable scorer. She won’t be expected or needed to perform like this every game, but as a more focal point of the offense, consistent scoring from Fisher will be a crucial key to Marist’s success on the offensive end. Fisher was streaky at times last year, but with a bigger role in Marist’s offense, I believe she will perform to her preseason all-MAAC first-team honors, and be this team’s MVP.

Cara: Fisher is coming off an impressive junior year, where she led the team in field-goal percentage (.401%), free-throw percentage (80%), and assists (102). She is a key playmaker offensively and defensively; racking up 53 steals last season, Fisher can open up the court and create scoring opportunities for herself and the supporting cast. If Marist wants to make it to the MAAC championship the team will follow Fisher. 

Aidan: My pick for the team’s most valuable player is preseason All-MAAC First Team selection senior forward Zaria Shazer. The 6’1’’ forward simply does it all. Offensively, Shazer averaged 16 points per game solely off points within the arc and free throws. Shazer’s quick first step and ability to finish in the paint allowed her to be the second-leading scorer in the MAAC. Shazer also grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds per game, sixth most in the MAAC, and is a capable defender, tying the team lead last season in total steals, and second on the team in total assists and blocks.

While a repeat season will be more than enough for Marist, an increased field goal efficiency makes her even more valuable than she already is. There are rumblings that she has become an improved jump-shooter, even from three-point range, making her an even more dangerous offensive threat. 

Emely: Zaria Shazer, a 6’1 forward entering her senior year, possesses all of the skills needed to be a valuable player this season. While averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game, she led the Red Foxes in total minutes and minutes per game, points, free throws made, total rebounds, and steals. Shazer was named to both the All-MAAC Second Team as well as the MAAC All-Academic team. 

Shazer is an excellent defender who must improve her three-point range. If Shazer can reproduce her incredible performance from last season while enhancing her field goal efficiency, I do not doubt that she will lead the team as they try to compete in the MAAC.

How do you think this team stacks up with the rest of the competition in the MAAC conference?

Luke: Marist will benefit from having Fisher and Shazer return to the roster as seniors, as their steady upward trajectories were recognized with Preseason All-MAAC First-Team honors. Additionally, the team’s only truly major loss over the offseason was starting guard Kendall Krick, who ran out of eligibility. While Krick’s overall scoring and three-point play were valuable attributes, returning players such as sophomore guard Jackie Piddock and incoming players including Corsentino and Tarul will have every chance to fill the void. 

After finishing seventh in the MAAC conference standings a year ago, MAAC coaches expect the team to fare better this season, voting them fourth in the preseason coaches poll. The ranking feels accurate, although the team’s season may ultimately come down to how they fare at the center position. Incumbent starting center and graduate student Maeve Donnelly persevered through major injury and health issues to lead the Red Foxes with 37 blocks last season, yet her field goal percentage of 35% ranked among the bottom of MAAC starting centers. 

The Red Foxes will need Donnelly to improve her efficiency or hope for an emergence from sophomore center Morgan Lee, a 6’5” transfer who played sparingly during her freshman year at Georgetown, but averaged 20.4 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per game as a senior at Kent School.

Ben: Following a disappointing seventh-place finish in the MAAC, Marist enters with a respectable fourth-place ranking in the coaches’ preseason poll. Fisher and Shazer making the first team is great to see from the veterans on this team, and I believe they will go as far as these two seniors take them. 

Heading into the season, Niagara is seemingly the team to beat, ranking first in the poll while rostering the preseason player of the year in the MAAC, Aaliyah Parker. Surprisingly, Marist played well against the top of the MAAC last year, giving the Purple Eagles one of their four in-conference losses, as well as handing Iona one of its two MAAC losses. This points towards Marist’s inconsistency. On some nights, they showed they could compete with the best teams in the conference, but on others, it was the opposite. This can best be seen in their performances against Rider, a team that went 6-14 in MAAC play. The Red Foxes lost two to the Broncs in the regular season, then a third in the MAAC tournament. Marist will need its veteran leaders to keep this team playing at a consistent level, and if they do there is a very good chance the Red Foxes can have a shot at cutting down the nets at Atlantic City this March.

Cara: Last season, Iona controlled the MAAC, finishing the season with a conference record of 18-2. One of those losses came from Marist in the last time the two teams met. Marist dominated the game and came out with a 10-point victory (70-60). Throughout the season last year, the team was inconsistent; their longest conference winning streak was two games. 

Losing only three players coming into this season and having the duo of pre-season All-MAAC first-team Fisher and Zaria Shazer will help the Red Foxes end the season as a top-five team in the MAAC clinching the Red Foxes’ way to the second round of the MAAC tournament.

Aidan: Iona dominated the MAAC last year going 26-7 overall and 18-2 in conference play behind the strong play of three seniors who have since graduated. Due to this, the MAAC preseason coaches poll predicts a steep fall off of the Gaels, leaving an opening in the MAAC top five for Marist to capitalize upon. The top-end talent for the Red Foxes, specifically the duo of Shazer and Fisher, can compete with any team in the MAAC. All but three players on last year’s roster are returning which bodes well in terms of experience. 

However, this means the same team that shot rather poorly from the field is back. In order to have success against a strong top six or seven teams in the MAAC, they will need to be more efficient offensively while maintaining the top-five defensive effort they gave last season. Interestingly, the roster construction of this year’s Marist team and last year’s MAAC championship-winning Iona team are eerily similar. Both are led by two senior stars who can score at will. It is very possible that Marist is this year’s Iona, but ultimately, first-year head coach Erin Doughty makes it tough to predict the level of success. If Doughty pans out to be the coach the program hopes for, Marist should be a top-five seed in their conference, earning themselves a first-round bye in the MAAC tournament. 

Emely:  Iona dominated the MAAC last year, finishing with an 18-2 conference record, with one loss coming from Marist. Last year, Marist performed well against the top of the MAAC. They dominated Iona, where they scored a victory by 10 points. The Red Foxes also handed the Purple Eagles one of their four in-conference losses. With only three players not returning this season and having pre-season All-MAAC First-Teamers Zaria Shazer and Kiara Fisher, I think the Red Foxes can finish this season as a top-five team in the MAAC, ensuring a trip to the second round of the MAAC tournament.

With former Marist player and associate head coach Erin Doughty taking over as the new head coach after Brian Giorgis’ 21-year tenure, what do you think things might look like within the program moving forward?

Luke: Much has been made about the transition from Giorgis, who authored a 21-year career that few have matched in women’s hoops, to Doughty, his former student-coach who emerged as his long-time understudy. Doughty most recently served as the program’s associate head coach over the past five seasons, cementing herself as Giorgis’ obvious successor. While the change is now official, Doughty has often acted as a de-facto head coach in the past for Marist, most notably taking more of a lead role with in-game coaching during the COVID-19 pandemic; her role on the 2020-21 coaching staff was so prominent that Giorgis put her name on his MAAC Coach of the Year plaque in place of his own. Aside from her wealth of experience leading past Marist teams, she has also been a recruiting coordinator for the program while working on the coaching staff. Based on all of this, we should not expect any drastic changes moving forward – Doughty is by and large in place to continue the standard of excellence that Giorgis created – but Giorgis’ absence will no doubt be felt, as evidenced by the outpouring of support he received during his retirement ceremony.

Ben: While the legendary Brian Giorgis’ tenure at the helm for Marist may be finished, he leaves a lasting impression due to new head coach Erin Doughty. Doughty was a walk-on at Marist during Giorgis’ first year as head coach in 2002 and stayed with the team in different roles throughout the next 21 years. Working her way up to eventually become Marist’s associate head coach in 2018, she now takes over for her mentor. With her entire coaching career being under Giorgis in some capacity, it is safe to assume there won’t be much change in year one. The roster is similar, and Doughty still needs to find her footing as head coach before fully altering the program going forward, which is more likely to occur once she goes through her first few recruiting classes as the head coach.

Cara: Although legend Brian Giorgis’ has retired, his impact on Marist basketball and coaching philosophies will remain. Erin Doughty–who played for Giorgis herself from 2002 to 2005 has been influenced by Giorgis as both a coach and player herself.

She knows the team, she knows the program, and she knows what has worked in the past to make a winning team. During Doughty’s senior season, where she joined the coaching staff as an assistant the Red Foxes’ finished the season with a school record of 23 victories which was the highest win total at the time. Doughty will take all she has learned from Giorgis and being a player herself and apply that to her coaching. 

Aidan: This has always been Doughty’s job to take once Giorgis’ illustrious coaching career was over. With that being said, the play style may look similar, since Doughty’s 18 years of coaching experience have all been on Giorgis’ staff. She has been a part of plenty of success and it can be assumed that, while adding a few wrinkles, she will not attempt to fix what is not broken. However, the team culture is something that she could put her fingerprints all over. After working through the ranks for two decades, she can now create her own culture. This could lead Marist women’s basketball back to being the MAAC powerhouse that it was prior to the last few seasons. Doughty being a former player in the program adds a sense of relatability to her team and a fresh face at the helm can create newfound energy throughout the entirety of the program. 

Emely: Although Brian Giorgis has retired, his influence on Marist Women’s Basketball and coaching strategies will live on. Doughty was a walk-on at Marist during Giorgis’ first year as head coach in 2002 and has been with the team in various roles for the past 21 years. Giorgis has had an impact on Doughty as a coach and a player. Doughty is familiar with the team, the program, and what has or has not worked in the past to create a winning team. She will utilize what she has learned from Giorgis and her own experience in her coaching. 

Edited by Dan Aulbach and Luke Sassa

Graphic by Jaylen Rizzo; photos via Marist Athletics

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