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Maggie Doogan already playing starring role for Richmond

03/03/2023, 8:30pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

WILMINTGON — Maggie Doogan was bummed when she saw the Atlantic 10’s schedule pairings for her freshman year. 

The 15-team league has each of its teams play a 16-game regular season, playing two of their league opponents twice, the rest once, either home or away. So it was back in June that Doogan found out that her Richmond squad would be hosting both St. Joe’s and La Salle, meaning the Broomall native wouldn’t get a trip back to Philadelphia for her first year of college.

Maggie Doogan (above) is near the end of a great freshman year at Richmond. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Fortunately for Doogan, she had one more opportunity to look forward to: the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament, held at the Chase Fieldhouse in Delaware, just about a half-hour from her Delco home. 

“That’s one of the reasons that I felt comfortable leaving home was that I knew I was going to be able to come back and play St. Joe’s and La Salle,” she said. “But not doing that, I was able to look forward to the A-10 Tournament so I could come home and play in front of my family and friends.”

Doogan’s certainly taking advantage of her ability to play close to home for the first time in her college career. The 6-foot-2 forward and Cardinal O’Hara product continued what’s been a terrific second half of her debut collegiate season on Friday, leading Richmond, the No. 5 seed, with 20 points in a 70-65 win over No. 4 Fordham on Saturday afternoon. 

It was her third 20-point outing of the season, all of which have come in the last five weeks, as she continues to get better and better as the year goes on.

“It’s been great,” she said of her freshman season. “I have adjusted really well, my teammates have helped me not only on the court but in the classroom too [...] I’ve just had a really good time.”

Following Friday’s win, Doogan is averaging 11.0 points, second on the team, along with a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game, shooting 45.7% from the floor and 38.8% from 3-point range. For her efforts, she was named to the A-10’s All-Rookie team, as well as to the All-Conference Third Team, one of just two freshmen (along with St. Joe’s Laura Ziegler) to make both All-Rookie and All-League.

Doogan is shooting better than 40% from the 3-point arc during her time in the starting lineup. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Richmond coach Aaron Roussell had high hopes for Doogan when he recruited her out of O’Hara, which won both the Catholic League and PIAA Class 5A championship a year ago. But while he expected her to be a major part for his program, he didn’t want to overload her with too much too soon.

“We had a plan of growth for her,” the Spiders’ fourth-year boss said. “We’ve coached some really good freshmen over the years and [...] not to sound old, but I’ve been doing this for a long time, we’ve put some freshmen into tough spots early in the season where you look back and say maybe that was unfair.”

“He told me in the beginning that he (didn’t) want to throw a lot at me,” Doogan said, “but I was like, ‘I can handle it, throw it at me — whatever we need to do to win, I’m happy to help.’”

Doogan spent the first month of the college basketball season adjusting to the new level of play, averaging 5.4 ppg and 3.3 rpg in about 16 mpg off the bench, hitting double figures in the scoring column once. Right as it seemed like she was starting to figure it out, scoring 21 points over two games against Idaho and Northern Illinois over a Thanksgiving tournament in Baltimore, she suffered a hand injury that cost her the entire month of December.

While reaching for a rebound, her right hand got jammed up, breaking it, she said, “into three pieces.” Surgery followed, the initial diagnosis a six-week rehab, though she was back to competitive action in five.

When she returned, it was like she hadn’t missed any time at all. Doogan came off the bench for the first three games of conference play, but after a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double at Rhode Island on Jan. 18, Roussell put her into the starting lineup, and hasn’t regretted that move for a second.

In 11 games as a starter entering play Friday, Doogan was averaging 14.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg, shooting 44.8% from 3-point range (26-of-58) and 86% from the foul line, a major reason the Spiders went 8-3 during that stretch to capture the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament and then win their postseason opener over Dayton on Thursday.

“Maggie’s a beast,” Richmond junior Addie Budnik said. “She has so much confidence and I think that’s contagious, obviously. Coming in as a freshman, being able to just hold herself to that standard and everything, it’s really helped us and pushed us to where we are right now.”

“She’s really good and she’s going to be even better in this league,” Roussell said, “and we’re really glad to have her.”

(Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Doogan’s mother and head coach at O’Hara, Chrissie Doogan, was watching intently from the stands on Friday, the La Salle alum proudly wearing Richmond’s red and blue. She isn’t the type to yell out directions from the stands, as hard as that is at points.

“There are times where I wish I could say a few things,” she admitted, “but it’s fun, she’ll still watch film and ask me for my opinion after games and stuff like that. She’s in good hands with this staff, she’s really happy with them, so it’s all good.”

“It’s pretty much the same relationship, just over the phone,” Maggie said. “We talk all the time, text all the time, and still bounce ideas off of each other [...] She still is my coach in some kind of way, she’ll definitely tell me what I’m doing wrong.”

The biggest change in Maggie’s game from Chrissie’s eyes: the 3-point shooting. Her daughter had the ability to stretch the floor at O’Hara, but they took advantage of her size in the paint more often than not, her post scoring abilities too good to deny. 

She knocked down two against Fordham, running her streak of games with a triple to 13 straight, and she’s got multiple trey-balls in nine of those outings.

“She’s had a good percentage all year so it’s become one of her strengths,” Chrissie Doogan said. “I’d like to see her get to the foul line a little bit more, but she’s shooting the ball well from the perimeter, so it’s good.”

Watching Richmond, it’s clear to see just how valuable Doogan is to the Spiders, beyond the starting and the scoring. Whenever she comes out, Roussell has a quick few words of encouragement for her, Doogan grabbing a drink of water, knowing her time on the bench will be brief. 

A sign of how much trust her coach has in her already, Maggie Doogan was out there during the stretch run of Friday’s quarterfinal win, hitting two key foul shots with under four minutes to play to help the Spiders keep the Rams at arm’s length and two more with 8.5 seconds left that all but sealed it, turning a three-point edge into a five-point advantage.

It was no accident she was in that position.

“The ball was going to her hands at the end, we needed her to make two free throws, we’re going to design this and it was [for her to] go get the ball,” Roussell said. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind when she was at the free-throw line that she was going to make those shots.”

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