February 27, 2008

Irish Import Brings Style to W. Cagers

Print More

According to Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport’s website, a one-way trip from Dublin only costs $659. It took at least that much money, years of practice and a few videotapes to bring freshman Susan Doyle from Dublin, Ireland to our corner of the United States.
“I wanted to go to a good school with a good basketball program,” Doyle said of her decision to attend Cornell University.
Doyle’s coach in Ireland knew head coach Dayna Smith and thought that Doyle would be a good fit for the Red. Tapes of Doyle’s play were shipped to Cornell, and Smith had seen all she needed.
[img_assist|nid=28253|title=Luck of the Irish|desc=Averaging 4.5 minutes per game, freshman Susan Doyle has posted five points, seven assists, two steals and 10 rebounds for the Red.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Susie is a small forward. She’s very versatile,” Smith said. “Right now she plays forward, but she’s learning the guard position. She’s a very athletic player, has great instincts. Her playing time hasn’t indicated what she’s done for us. Susie’s right there battling Jeomi and Moina every single day [in practice] making them better players.”
While Doyle hasn’t seen much playing time this season, that doesn’t necessarily mean she can’t hold her own on the court. She has a very impressive resume from her time in Ireland. She led her high school, The Donnybrook School of Dublin, to two All-Ireland Titles. Doyle also played on the U16 and U18 Irish National Teams, and was named captain of both teams. In 2006, she was MVP of the U18 team, partially because of her 8.3 rebounds per game. With all of her talent, Doyle is sure to play a part for the Red for years to come.
“In the next three years I really feel like Susie’s going to be a huge part of our team,” Smith said. “Offensively, I think her versatility, being able to step out on the perimeter, being able to attack the hoop and still being able to post up even at her size is going to be a huge asset. Defensively she just works so hard, day in and day out she just busts her butt; I think that’s going to pay off down the road for her.”
However naturally talented Doyle may be, there was an adjustment period when she first started playing in the U.S. Smith noted that the playing style in the U.S. is more physical than that in Europe, and Doyle wasn’t used to certain aspects of it.
“I think the US style is a bit more physical,” Smith said. “Over in Europe you see it being more of a finesse game, more about fundamentals and a little bit slower, not as explosive. We’ve had Susie come in and we wanted to teach her the forward position because we thought she has great instincts around the hoop. She really had to learn that physical style of play, not just offensively but also on the defensive end. … I think that was an adjustment for her.”
For her part, Doyle thinks that the adjustment period was less about the different styles of play and more about different coaching habits and play selection.
With any incoming freshman, there is worry about being able to handle the stress of college. Add to that the time commitment of a varsity team and the anxiety of being on a different continent than the one you grew up on, and it’s easy to see how someone could cave under the pressure. But Doyle has proven more than able to handle all of the above problems and even more.
“We’ve been fortunate with Susie and with [junior Moina Snyder],” Smith said. “They’re both very mature women. They’ve played internationally before and traveled quite a bit and she’s got quite a bit of life experience under her belt. So I don’t think she’s your typical freshman coming in and feeling homesick; she’s been away from home quite a bit. I think having Moina around kind of helped her understand that you can make it through. … I don’t think that academically or even athletically it’s been too overwhelming for her.”
Luckily for the Red, Doyle has enjoyed her first few months playing for the team, and she should be a factor for the next three years.