By Zak Wolf (@ZakWolf22)
Sam Blumnenthal was happy to get the weight of her commitment off her shoulders right before her senior season. The Bishop Shanahan forward committed to Catholic University in the first week of November which helped relieve some pressure.
What came next was a surprise for Blumenthal. Soon after her commitment she was diagnosed with mono, holding her out of action for a month leading up to basketball season. Blumenthal’s illness was bad timing, but her commitment wasn’t. Ever since getting sick, it’s been a battle to get back into basketball shape and perform to her standards.
“For me right now it's a lot of just getting my strength back and my confidence back so I'm kind of working on doing that and then even like running a lot to get back in shape,” Blumenthal said.
Bishop Shanahan senior Sam Blumenthal will play at Catholic next season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Blumenthal has been a key contributor for Bishop Shanahan over the past couple of seasons. In 2023, Blumenthal helped the Eagles make the PIAA District 1 5A semifinals as well as the state quarterfinals, falling to eventual champions Archbishop Wood. This season Blumenthal is one of the more experienced players at Shanahan and provides the Eagles with a solid post presence down low.
Blumenthal getting sick threw a wrench in her plans for her senior season as she continues to work herself back to where she was in the offseason. When she first started working out after getting healthy it was a struggle.
“It was definitely a lot for me since I'm a person who goes to the gym a lot and lifts,” Blumenthal said. “My body felt weak after coming back from that.”
“I feel like I have some improvement to make, there's always improvement for me. I’m definitely not back to the shape I was before I got sick or where I could have been as if I had a whole other month.”
In Bishop Shanahan’s first couple games of the season, Blumenthal explained she struggled to stay on the floor, not because she was tired, but due to foul trouble. She’s put an emphasis on moving her feet and sliding on defense so she can stay on the floor and continue to improve her cardio. That showed up recently in an overtime win over Kennett at the CoBL Girls’ Winter Classic when she led her team to a win with a few key pieces absent.
After this season, Blumenthal will join Catholic University in Washington D.C. She had a number of other Division-II and III offers including Stevens Institute of Technology, College of Staten Island, Kutztown along with interest from Jefferson. In the end, Blumenthal decided to go with Catholic.
The Cardinals are coming off a solid 18-8 season before falling in the Landmark conference semifinals to Elizabeth town. This season, Catholic is performing even better, winning its first 11 games of the season while being ranked No. 17 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division-III poll.
Blumenthal will play under head coach Matt Danhoue, who recently picked up his 400th career win as a head coach.
“I love the coaches and the environment at Catholic,” Blumenthal said. “I think it's gonna be a great place for me to continue to grow over the next four years.”
With Catholic, Blumenthal expects to be a post player despite being slightly undersized at 5-foot-10. The forward isn’t concerned about matching up against bigger and stronger girls. She’s been doing it throughout high school with Shanahan and playing for the Declo Goats in AAU and she enjoys it.
“My favorite part of a game is matching up with a 6-3, 6-4, bigger girl that I have to battle against the post the entire game like that's fun for me. I like to push people around,” Blumenthal said.
Despite being a post player, Blumenthal is putting the work in to improve her jumpshot. She’s constantly in the gym before and after practice looking to expand her range and not be a one-dimensional player. For Blumenthal it’s all about her confidence and if she can get that down then it’ll be a bonus.
“Shooting has always been a big thing for me and I have confidence in my shot. I think I can pick and choose the opportunities when is the best time for me to shoot in a game,” Blumenthal said. “I don't want to go out and shoot all the shots just so I can do it, I think it's letting the game come to me.”