Fran Dougherty, basketball's new big man on campus
Sophomore forward showed major improvement in Saturday’s Red and Blue scrimmage
October 24, 2011, 10:25 pm·
Pete Lodato | DP
The first thing teammates and coaches noticed about the new-and-improved Fran Dougherty was his body. Over the offseason, the timid, slight freshman grew into a sturdy sophomore.
“He’s gotten stronger,” classmate Miles Cartwright said.
“He’s been eating a lot of Tastykakes,” senior Tyler Bernardini joked.
Dougherty himself laughed at the perception that he had developed man-muscles, which were on display as he bulled his way to 12 points in Saturday’s first open practice of the season, the Red and Blue scrimmage.
“I stayed around the same weight,” the 6-foot-8, supposedly 225-pound forward said. “I don’t eat any Tastykakes.”
Never mind that Dougherty shot down several of his peers’ assessments. For the 30 minutes prior, his dramatically-enhanced game had said enough.
Battling the Quakers’ most physical big man in senior Mike Howlett, Dougherty not only held his own down low but also flashed a sharpened post game that included a series of turnarounds and drop steps.
He said the departure of seniors Conor Turley and Jack Eggleston — a combined 18.5 points and 10.4 rebounds of efficient production — was on his mind during summer workouts, as he focused on improving offensively.
“That was a big emphasis because we lost a big inside presence,” Dougherty said. “This offseason, I really tried to work on post moves and establishing position on the block early.”
The Archbishop Wood product consistently caught the ball within 10 feet of the basket during Saturday’s scrimmage, remaining patient in surveying the defense before being assertive with his moves.
Coach Jerome Allen often preaches that good teams function inside-out by playing through a back-to-the-basket post player. Allen may have finally found the right man for that job.
“After one week of practice, Fran Dougherty has stood out — just his body, his attention to detail,” the coach said. “If he can score the ball for us a little bit on the block, I think it’ll make us that much better.”
But Allen remains ever-focused on the defensive end, where the mobile and vocal Dougherty anchored the blue team’s effort in a 36-31 win.
“We’ve been drilling defense every day at practice,” Dougherty said. “Every day we’re working towards it, just being loud and being a force in the middle.”
At the very least, the forward — who averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game last season — proved Saturday that he has the potential to be the Quakers’ missing piece. Someone makes the freshman-to-sophomore leap every year, and in the very early going, Dougherty is the leading candidate.
“I think today showed it,” Cartwright said on Saturday. “Fran Doc showed what he’s done this summer.”
Notes: Cartwright controlled the game for the white team, displaying better arc on his jumper in sinking two threes and scoring a team-high 12 points. … Sophomore Marin Kukoc declared himself healthy after sitting out last season with a back injury. He was the game’s leading scorer with 13 points, drilling three shots from deep. … Bernardini and fellow senior Larry Loughery, sophomore Steve Rennard and freshmen Henry Brooks, Keelan Cairns and Greg Louis did not play. Allen said all were nursing injuries and that “some guys are closer than others in terms of getting on the floor.”