Eric Emmerling's NH College Notebook: Three Granite State hoopsters surpass 1,000-point mark
Oh, how Jacqueline Vienneau ached to improve her game. She'd spend sunny summer days inside a stuffy gym perfecting muscle memory with repetitive drills, only to awaken the next morning and work her achy sore muscles through a different set of drills - refining another aspect of her game. This type of cross training was her version of a summer vacation.
The Salem resident's burning desire paid dividends last week as Vienneau became the first Suffolk University player - and just the fourth player in Great Northeast Athletic Conference history - to tally 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.
"I've been coaching basketball for 30 years and I've seen maybe a handful of kids maintain a passion for the sport like Jacqui has," said Suffolk coach Ed Leyden. "She spent every summer improving her game. Most kids' talent and passion flatline, but she came in as a junior better than she was as a sophomore. And was a better player as a senior than as a junior."
Aching to reach her potential, Vienneau drilled herself to improve. She improved her ability to catch and shoot, create shots off the dribble. She improved her leaping ability and spent countless hours passing the ball.
The results were impressive. Vienneau, a four-year starter at Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass., grabbed her 500th career rebound last Tuesday and her 1,000th tally back in December. She recorded her 300th assist as a junior and owns the all-time women's school record with 420.
Through 100 games, Vienneau tallies total 1,164 points, the fifth-highest Suffolk career total. She is the 13th Ram to collar 500 rebounds. She's second on the all-time list, having hit 150 three-point shots and is tied for fourth with 180 steals.
"With all that summer sweat she's became pretty tough to defend," said Leyden with a laugh.
Rivier University forward Tom Poitras was a beast in the low post. He'd draw triple team defensive attention when in possession of the ball down low. Still, the Bow native averaged double-digit scoring figures.
But Raiders coach Dave Morissette believed Poitras possessed more scoring potential. The club needed it when point guard Jake Nelson of Nashua (Nashua South) went down with a knee injury.
"We challenged Tom to get out of the box and extend his game," said Morissette.
The 6-foot-5 junior forward moved away from the basket and started shooting. This season he knocked down more treys (14) than the previous two combined (9). When defenders began shadowing him around the three-point arc, Poitras put the ball to the floor, banking drives and swishing pull-up jumpers.
Poitras netted his 1,000th career point last Tuesday. He's scored 20 or more points six times in the past eight games for the 10-12 Raiders.
"He's really taken up the bulk of our scoring load and he has really rounded out his overall game. He's also a good leader, challenging his teammates in a positive way," said Morisette of Poitras, who is averaging 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season.
Deanna Purcell can flat out shoot.
The Rivier sophomore from Hudson (Alvirne) scored her 1,000th career point during the 48th game of her collegiate career. Seventy five other women have reached the scoring milestone in their Great Northeast Athletic Conference careers. No one accomplished the feat faster than this 5-foot-10 scorer.
As a freshman, Purcell hit 54 percent of her field goals, totaling 582 points while averaging 20.8 a game and was named the conference Rookie of the Year. She averaged 4.5 boards and 1.5 assists.
With defenses paying closer attention, Purcell has become even more productive as a sophomore.
A 1,000-point scorer at Alvirne, she has started 20 games, averaging 22.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists. She's shooting 50 percent from the field, but has knocked down 33 percent of her trey attempts.
Her 1,000th career point occurred in the first quarter Tuesday night. Rivier (13-7, 7-2 GNAC) suffered its second conference loss while Purcell tallied 35 points while hitting 13-of-25 shots and swishing 7-of-8 free throws.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Poitras and Purcell were freshmen when watching older siblings tally their 1,000th career point at Rivier University. Amanda Purcell achieved the feat before graduating last spring. Don (DJ) Poitras reached the milestone in 2011, his senior season.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Mike Richard, Pinkerton of Derry's all-time leading scorer, recently recorded his third career hat trick for the St. Anselm College hockey team. The senior forward has scored 45 goals and assisted on 28 others so far this season.
Colby-Sawyer College freshman Wol Majong of Manchester (Trinity, New Hope Academy) had a hot hand, hitting 7-of-10 field goals for 19 points in a game last week. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 5.7 points a game.
Melissa Robbins of Nashua (North) was the second-leading scorer for the Sacred Heart University soccer team. The 5-foot-7 forward has tallied 12 goals and made 14 assists.
Eric Emmerling's New Hampshire College Notebook appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.