Few freshmen are given the responsibility of handling the ball with the game on the line. Even fewer freshmen take the last-second shot for their team. But Brogan Berry wasn’t just any freshman.
Against Dartmouth on January 10, Berry lit up the floor, knocking down 20 points in the first Ivy League game of her career. But the then-rookie’s turnover on the final possession rendered the occasion sour.
A month later, Berry once again found the ball in her hands in the game’s deciding moments. Down two to Columbia, Berry did well to create her own shot, but her runner didn’t fall. Once again, Berry was left with only heartbreak.
The Columbia miss, which spun teasingly around the basket before rimming out, was a fitting metaphor for a season in which things just never fell perfectly into place for Berry and the Crimson.
But despite the two setbacks—along with the disappointment of losing the league title to Dartmouth in the last game of the season—Berry was awfully close to perfect.
She led the conference in three-point shooting percentage and finished second in assist-to-turnover ratio. At season’s end, she was unanimously named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and even earned an All-Ivy honorable mention.
“To be as poised as she was as a freshman, and to be such a statistical leader as a freshman, that’s really hard to do,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith says. “I really think the sky is the limit for her.”
“I definitely think that every mistake is a learning experience,” Berry says. “You can’t dwell on previous mistakes, but you can use them as motivation and as a catalyst to move forward.”
But building upon last year could be harder without the presence of Emily Tay ’09, Niki Finelli ’09, and Katie Rollins ’09—all of whom graduated in the spring. Berry is one of only two returning starters for Harvard, and will have to step into a more senior role in only her sophomore season.
As if that weren’t enough, all of the change in personnel has led to the development of a new offensive system that Berry has had to learn. After averaging 12 points per game and picking up 100 assists over the course of the 2008-09 season, Berry could be excused for being slightly annoyed with the prospect of playing in a new-look system. But the Beavercreek, Ohio native isn’t bothered at all by the change.
“I love the new offense,” Berry says. “It plays to my strength and other players’ strengths. We are going to be pushing the ball a lot, and we have a lot of freedom. It will catch defenses off guard and lead to easy points for our team.”
The optimistic attitude is typical of Berry, who Delaney-Smith says is a coach’s dream.
“She’s all about basketball,” Delaney-Smith says. “That’s what’s so wonderful about her—she’s all business.”
Of course, it’s one thing to say all of the right things, and quite another to produce on the court. But for Berry, both seem to come naturally.
“She’s, if not our best shooter, one of our best shooters, and, if not our best penetrator, one of our best penetrators,” Delaney-Smith says.