March 5, 2009

Success From The Start

March 5, 2009

By Michelle Bradley
Special to GoHolyCross.com

A member of the 2006-2007 Patriot League Championship team as a freshman, it was clear that junior guard Bethany O'Dell was on her way to being a successful player for the Holy Cross women's basketball program. This year, she has made school history and is leaving her mark on the Patriot League.

O'Dell has crushed the career record for three-pointers made at Holy Cross, a mark previously held by Jeanette Paukert (1998-2002) with 179 shots made from beyond the arc. She also has made it into the top five at Holy Cross for all-time career three-point field goals attempted.

"I've always known I like shooting a three-pointer. I think its fun to shoot from that far from the hoop," said O'Dell. "I don't really think about it, I just go out there and play. I know I can shoot a three-pointer pretty well, so if it was going to happen, then it was going to happen."

O'Dell has also etched her named into several single-season lists including three-pointers attempted (165) and three-pointers made (63) during the 2007-2008 season. During the 2006-2007 season, she finished sixth on the three-point field goal percentage (.422) and minutes played (1,095) lists. She was also the team leader in rebounding last season with 146 boards in 32 games, averaging 4.6 per game.

Greatly recognized by the league from the beginning of her career, O'Dell was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2007. She also is a three-time recipient of second team All-Patriot League honors and last season was named to the All-Patriot League Tournament team. As a freshman, she was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week six times, the most of any rookie during that season.

O'Dell quickly learned that she would have to take a starting role with little playing experience at the college level after the injuries to point guards Laura Aloisi and Jessica Pearson happened early in the 2006-2007 season. Being thrown into the fire, O'Dell found comfort in the upperclassmen as well as fellow classmate, Briana McFadden.

"Laura and Jessica weren't playing so they were helping Briana and I since neither of us had played pointguard," said O'Dell. "They were big supporters and I think that was the biggest thing that I learned from them - you need to keep your teammates up and keep them focused."

"You had to stay calm and not get frustrated because as a freshman, you're going to make mistakes and I made plenty of mistakes," said O'Dell. "It's all about how you handle it. I got better at handling it which made me play better in the end."

O'Dell wasn't sure what to expect from the college experience as a freshman, from the workouts, to wiping the slate clean from high school statistics, to starting over as a college student. Reaching what most freshmen yearn for when they become college athletes, the success of her team brought them to the NCAAs.

"It was an unbelievable experience. It was really cool, you watch it when you're young on TV. I liked watching the games because they were always so close - anyone could win any game. I remember when we first got off the bus to play Duke, they had the cameras right in your face while you're getting your pass to go in the N.C. State gymnasium. We had fun - this is where you want to be and what you've worked for."

With the experience and skills she has developed at the start of her career, O'Dell keeps her advice for the underclassmen simple: work your hardest.

"Whether you're not shooting well or if you turn the ball over, just keep working hard. They may not be getting the minutes, but they are a big part of the team no matter what," said O'Dell. "[As upperclassmen], you have to remind them that you appreciate what they're doing and how hard they work in practice. That's what your teammates notice."

With one year remaining, O'Dell's success at Holy Cross is far from over. Her lengthy list of accomplishments on the floor and positive leadership skills will uphold the tradition of success that the Holy Cross women's basketball team has always been known for.