January 16, 2019

Alumnae in Europe - Jillian Player of Week in Italy; Karlie interview from Belgium

Experienced New Zealand Jillian Harmon (185-PF-87, agency: LBM Management) had an amazing evening in the last round for Ragusa and that's her to receive a Interperformances Player of the Week award for round 11.
The 31-year old power forward had a double-double of 28 points and eleven rebounds, while her team crushed Battipaglia (#10, 2-9) with 16-point margin 79-63. Ragusa maintains the 3rd position in Italian Serie A1. They would have been even better if they hadn't lost a few games earlier this season. Ragusa will need more victories to improve their 8-3 record. Harmon turned to be Ragusa's top player in her first season with the team. Stanford University graduate has very impressive stats this year. Harmon is in league's top in rebounds (8th best: 9.0rpg) and averages solid 54.2% FGP.

Ragusa is currently 9 - 4 and in 4th place.

Mithra Castors Braine made a great deal when they signed WNBA player Karlie Samuelson for this season. A California girl found her way to Belgium. Two weeks ago Samuelson joined the team and she immediately made a big impression. With Samuelson, Braine wants to make a big run in the Euroleague this season. And so far, Braine and Samuelson are a perfect match.   You finally played your first games for Braine. How was that? They were fun. It takes time to get used to playing with new people and new coaches. I like how we are getting to know each other.

Your debut in the Euroleague was impressive. 18 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, one steal in 28 minutes. How good did that make you feel? Thank you! It felt really good! I know I put in work in the off season and so it feels good to do well in my first Euroleague game. There will always be ups and downs in a season but it definitely boosted confidence for me and the win most importantly boosted confidence of the team.

You already committed to Braine in April? What convinced you half a year ago Belgium was the place to be? I really wanted to play for a Euroleague team and I heard good things about this club and decided to give it a go! Also, I had heard really good things about the country and so far, I am really liking living here.

You are known as a shooter playing for Stanford as a college player. You were one of college basketball’s top three-point shooters: 47.7 percent. The third best in the country. Where did you learn to shoot like that? My dad taught my sisters and I how to shoot. We spent a lot of time in the gym working on shooting, so I’m thankful to have my dad and my mom be so supportive and invested in me and my growth as a basketball player.

Your older sister Bonnie played for Stanford as well, your younger sister Katie-Lou plays for Connecticut. How was that? Three competitive sisters growing up together? Growing up together and playing the same sport allowed us to spend so much time together as a family. It is the reason we are so close. Yes, it was very competitive and definitely made us all better basketball players. I learned how to hold my own and be physical against my sisters, as they both ended up a good few inches taller than me.

As sisters, you evaluated each other after games. That will be difficult now. How do you keep contact nowadays? I talk to my sisters all the time on FaceTime. My whole family watched that first Euroleague game live on YouTube and they were all very excited for me. My little sister’s season is starting in a week and I always talk with her about how she is playing and feeling. Unfortunately, I have to wait a day or two to stream her games because I am over here in Europe, but I have watched every single one of her college games and I plan on continuing that this year.

Your father was a professional basketball player in England, your mother a netball player. Who gave all three of you their talents? Both my parents taught all of us how to shoot and play basketball. It was always a family affair, growing up going to practices and games together. Every year I think both of them taught each of us something new to add to our games.

Your father is American, your mother is from England. Bonnie chose to play for Great Britain’s national team, Katie-Lou is playing for the United States. This summer you played for the national team of Great Britain for the first time. It was an incredible experience playing for the Great Britain National team for the first time this year. The girls are so nice and we won two big games together.

Was your mother proud? My mom was definitely proud of me. Last year my mom and I visited her sister in England. That was the first time I had ever been there and the first time she had been back in 23 years. She is coming again this November with me. I am proud to represent the country that my mom is from.

It is possible you might have to go against Katie-Lou in the future playing on different national teams. That must be strange? It has always been a dream of mine to play against my sister. I never got the chance to in college, so playing against her and the USA team while on the Great Britain team would be a crazy and really fun experience. And playing with my sister in the future is a dream of mine as well.

This year you played in the WNBA for the LA Sparks. How was that experience? My first WNBA season was quite an experience. I had a lot of fun and learned so much about the game and about myself. And to be part of the LA Sparks was an absolute dream. I learned so much from playing with incredible players like Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, Nneka Ogwumike and Alana Beard. Being able to play at Staples Center in front of my family and friends is something I am extremely proud of.

In 2017 you played strong in training camp for the Sparks but due to a fractured foot you were not able to complete camp so you didn’t make the team. Was it an extra motivation to make the team this year? I would say that fracturing my foot after playing well in camp definitely motivated me to work as hard as possible and improve my game to try to make the team the next year. I actually kept a WNBA logo that fell off of one of my shorts in my wallet the entire year to remind myself what I was working for.

Katie-Lou will be one of the top picks in the WNBA in 2019. What can you tell her about life as a professional player? I talk to my sister all the time about how to improve her game and how physical professional basketball can be. She has improved so much over her first three years in college and I am proud of how versatile she has become and the kind of leader she is on her team. I tend to learn a thing or two from her nowadays as well. The most important thing though is to be healthy, strong, and feeling good. We love to workout together in the small amount of time we get in the off season.

On Instagram I found a picture of you with Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and your sister. Are you a Hollywood celebrity or where you at the right spot at the right time? Haha definitely not a celebrity. That was right after I fractured my foot. Penny Toler got me tickets for my family and myself for the season opener at Staples Center. Kobe’s daughter’s favorite player is Katie Lou and so we all got to say hi to her and talk with Kobe and Magic. It’s nice having a superstar little sister.

You played for the Sparks this year, played for the GB national team and you played in Italy. And now you have a full season ahead. That’s a heavy workload. How do you keep fresh? Life as a professional basketball player is definitely a lot of work because it is almost a year-round season. I make sure to keep my body feeling healthy with proper workouts and recovery but most importantly I keep my mind right by talking with my family and friends. I try to keep a positive mindset and remind myself to really enjoy these experiences that basketball has given me because playing basketball as my job is not something I can do forever. So I do not want to take it for granted.

Last question. After growing up in California and a full year in Italy. How do you like rainy Belgium? I have been spoiled growing up in the California weather! I am cold! But I just put on three jackets, a rain coat, scarf and a hat and I am good to go.

Castors Braine is 12 -1 and in 1st place. Karlie is averaging 16.1 ppg averaging approximately 26 minutes per game. She is shooting 55% on 3 pointers.








January 7, 2019

Bonnie Shares Her Top 7 Moments From First Year

My Top 7 Moments From First Year

Peer Advisers are upperclassmen who are trained to assist incoming students make the transition into professional grad school. One of the way they assist is through the Peer Advisor Blog. Here is an example of such a blog article that may even be helpful to you as a pre-optometry student as you go forward…

By Peer Adviser, Bonnie Samuelson, SCCO Class of 2020

Everyone goes into grad school expecting it to be a grind and worrying about how to survive the coursework while maintaining good grades.  We worry about how stressful it’s going to be and whether we’ve made the right choice.  Well I’m here to tell you that, while this past year was stressful and challenging at times, the good moment far outweighed the bad.  I met so many wonderful people and had a ton of fun and new experiences.  With that being said, here are my top 7 moments from first year:
Vision Expo: During the first couple months of school everyone in the class is getting to know each other and making new friends so what better way to do that than with a road trip to this awesome optometry conference in Vegas?!  Vision Expo was such an eye-opening experience (pun intended) and showed me just how many different career paths there are in optometry.  The sheer amount of vendors, exhibits, and fellow optometrists and students there was overwhelming.  It was a great opportunity to network as well.  The whole experience was a blast and I got to bond and have fun with my classmates in a non-school setting.
White Coat Ceremony: At MBKU we (optometry) are fortunate to have our White Coat Ceremony early in our first year in October.  Needless to say, once I put on my white coat, I truly felt like a doctor, and in the midst of my first quarter and exams as an optometry student, it helped me realize the ends justify the means.  It was great to see our entire class go through this occasion together and we all looked pretty good in our white coats if I do say so myself. 
Passing Any Proficiency: As any SCCO student will tell you, proficiencies are pretty nerve-wrecking going in, but there’s no greater feeling of triumph than completing a new clinical skill and successfully performing it on a patient.  This is the reason we are all here and, I’ll tell you right now, nobody will complete every proficiency perfect the first time.  All you can do is continue to practice and try again.  The best part is that everyone in your class is going through the same thing and are willing to help.  The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be when it comes time to perform.

Care Harbor: This is a huge Los Angeles volunteer event that many different health care professionals attend from all over the area.  Our school sends students every year to which to participate and provide free eye exams to anyone who wishes to attend.  After learning some clinical skills in fall and winter quarter, it was very exciting to go and use these on real patients in a real-world setting.  It was a very rewarding experience and all of our patients were very kind and appreciative.  In the middle of a year full of lectures and labs, this was a good reminder of why it’s all worth it.
Optometry’s Meeting in DC: Technically this occurred the month after first year finished but it was so much fun it had to make the list!  Similar to Vision Expo, Optometry’s Meeting had so many great opportunities to network and learn about advocating for our profession on both a state and national level.  At this conference I was able to meet a ton of students from different schools and spend time with them.  There were so many events geared specifically for students and I felt like I really learned a lot.  Also, there are so many fun things to see and do while in DC.  I highly suggest doing the rent-a-bike service and biking around the monuments and along the Potomac River.
Tijuana SVOSH Trip: Near the end of the year, I decided to go on one of our school’s SVOSH day trips to Tijuana with five other students from our school (and Dr. Van de Pol).  We volunteered at a local church to give free eye exams and provide free glasses.  Similar to Care Harbor, this was a very rewarding experience and a great opportunity to practice and hone the clinical skills I’d learned throughout the past year.  We got to work with and help young kids as well as some adults who had been struggling to see.  The whole day was a ton of fun and we also stopped for some tacos before we crossed the border on the way back.
Any and All Fun Random Moments with My Classmates: My absolute favorite parts of this year we’re making new friends with the people in my class.  There are so many hilarious moments we’ve had together, whether it’s late-night delirious studying sessions, going out to try ramen and boba for the first time, or having last-minute bonfires and s’mores at the pool.  We always have fun together and have all bonded through certain tough exams or proficiencies we’ve had.  My last piece of advice is to put yourself out there when you get here this fall.  Go to the class mixers, run for class board, go on hikes and explore the area, or form a workout squad!  I guarantee you’ll meet some pretty great people in the process and truly thrive as a student. 

    December 30, 2018

    Lynx star Brittany McPhee shares sunny Christmas with twin Jordan

      Lynx star Brittany McPhee shares sunny Christmas with twin Jordan

      Athletic twins, basketballer Brittany McPhee with her sister Jordan, who is a track and field champion.Picture: Sharon Smith The West Australian

      Twins Brittany and Jordan McPhee have lived in each other’s pockets for most of their lives.
      But tomorrow will be one of the rare times when Jordan has watched Brittany playing basketball from the grandstand.
      Raised in Seattle, the McPhees were inseparable as children.
      They shared a bedroom, went to girl scouts and played basketball, tennis and soccer while growing up. 
      But after graduating from Mount Ranier High School, the pair went to college almost 1400km apart.
      Brittany’s outstanding basketball performances at Stanford University led to her being recruited by the Perth Lynx. 
      Jordan switched colleges and sports this year, focusing on athletics while studying for her masters in business administration at Gonzaga University. 
      A 1500m runner, Jordan flew to Australia last week and will spend the next month in Perth.
      “It’s exciting to just be hanging out again,” Brittany said.
      “We only saw each other for a couple of weeks per year at college. We’re used to being apart now and we still talk a lot but it will be good to get a solid month together. It’s super nice. 
      “I haven’t been lumped in as a twin for a while. I’d like to get back to that. I miss it.”
      Having come from America’s winter, Jordan is relishing Perth’s sunshine. 
      The Lynx play and practise just 500m from the WA Athletics Stadium, which provides Jordan with the opportunity to watch her sister while still training. The 22-year-olds are eagerly anticipating their first summer Christmas and intend to soak up the beach while their family are shivering in America.
      But Christmas pales in comparison to Jordan’s excitement at finally getting to see Brittany playing for Perth. She said tomorrow’s match against the Sydney Uni Flames would be a special moment.
      “Watching her play is one of my favourite things,” she said.
      “I haven’t played with her since high school and that was so much fun. Watching her play is the next best thing. I could never beat her at basketball. I was always better at running.”

    December 21, 2018

    Christina Bastastini (2000) returns to High School coaching



      WOONSOCKET – The two newest additions to the Mount Saint Charles Academy coaching staff don’t have much in common, but one thing’s for certain:

      They have a strong admiration for the school that they will serve as head coaches.
      For Christina Batastini, who will take over this winter as the girls’ basketball coach, her admiration began last winter, when during her daughter Ryanne’s Catholic Athletic League game in the Mounties’ gymnasium, she took a good look at the facility and the rest of the campus and was impressed with what she encountered.
      For Drew Brissette, who will take the field next spring as the softball coach, he admired the school from afar, when as a teenager in North Smithfield, he privately “envied” the school and his friends who attended it. He wore the Northmen’s Green & Gold as a baseball player during his freshman and sophomore years, but now he’s anxious to don the Mounties’ Red, White, & Blue.
      When it comes to high school girls’ basketball in Rhode Island, Batastini is one of the all-time legends. One of the greatest players to take the court in this state, the 1996 graduate of Classical High, who was a Parade Magazine and a Nike All-American) continued her hoop career at Stanford University, where she starred on three Pac-10 championship teams, and played professionally for four seasons in Europe (in Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland).
      After finishing her career as a practice player for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, she turned her attention to coaching. She started out as an assistant coach at Brown University, before spending seven seasons as the head coach of the Lincoln School. Under her guidance, the Lynx went from a winless team to a four-time Southeastern New England champion. She stepped down after the 2012 season and focused on coaching her daughter’s hoop teams, which ranged from ages 5-9, as well as operating her Batastini School of Basketball, which offers state-wide camps, team clinic, and individual instruction.
      She didn’t think she’d be coaching on the high school level again, but when she visited the campus again, as well as met with the school’s president, Alan Tenreiro, and athletic director Ray Leveille, who was last season’s head coach before stepping down to take over as Mount’s full-time A.D., she knew she really wanted the job.
      “It really sounded like they had a sustainable plan for the future of their students,” she recalled. “It was exciting and it was something I wanted to be a part of. And my daughter is in fourth grade, so the timing was really important to me that I coach at a school that she could possibly attend someday.
      “She visited the school and loved it, and it really felt like a good fit, not only for our family, but in terms of their vision for what they want their athletic programs to look like.”
      “Christina has succeeded as a player and coach at every level: professional, college, high school, and scholastic,” Tenreiro said in a press release. “Between her athletic and academic accomplishments, she embodies the student-athlete ideal we encourage at Mount Saint Charles. Our girls team has a strong winning tradition, and we’re confident they’ll have even more success under Christina’s leadership.”
      Bastastini, who also works for the state’s Department of Health, inherits a team that went 7-11 and returned to the Division II playoffs last season, and with some of the top players from that squad expected to return to the team this season, the new head coach hopes to be competitive.
      “I took a brief look at our schedule and most of those teams that we’ll be playing, at least when I played and was involved coaching high school basketball, were once Division I programs,” Bastastini added, “so it seems like there’s a really strong group of teams in this division.”
      As for her long-term goals?
      “Each year, I’d like to grow on the past year’s success,” she noted, “potentially move up to the top level if it’s feasible, and then ultimately grow the program to where it becomes an absolute ‘have-to’ – in terms of if you are a middle school kid or a student-athlete and you want to play college basketball, that you feel compelled to look at Mount Saint Charles because of the program that we built in the course of time that I’ll be there.”
      While Bastastini was officially named the head coach last Thursday, it wasn’t long before Brissette got the nod to lead the Mounties’ softball program, which will be returning to the Division I ranks after spending the past two seasons in D-II and reaching the finals in 2017.
      Note: Mount Saint Charles is off to a 3-0 start


    December 11, 2018

    Sarah, Kayla and Brittany down under

    Stanford alumnae Sarah Boothe, Kayla Pedersen, and Brittany McPhee  are playing in the WNBL in Australia. Brittany's Perth team leads the league with a record of 9 and 3. She is averaging 16pts and 7 rebounds per game. Sarah's Melbourne team is 2nd with a 9-5 record; she is averaging 5pts and 3 rbs per game in 14 minutes per game. Kayla's team Dadenong  has a 5-6 record, but in their last game upset Brittany's team and Kayla received some props for her performance. https://twitter.com/JaycoRangers/status/1072356994185617411 Kayla, last years defensive player of the year, averages 10.7 pts and 7.5 rbs per game.


    Sarah was interviewed at the start of the season about her expectations for the year.  http://wnbl.com.au/melbourne/news/boomers-courtside-chat-sarah-boothe/

    Roger Pelletier, aka mb.red, FBC Feature Writer

    November 24, 2018

    Karlie Samuelson completed a EuroBasket Qualifier

    Karlie just completed play in the EuroBasket Qualifier with the British Women's Team during a break in play in the European Leagues. Karlie was a major contributor as the team went 5-1 and successfully qualified  for the 2019 EuroBasket event.

    EuroBasket Women is a bi-annual international basketball competition held between the nations of Europe (including Israel) for women's national basketball team. Eurobasket Women is also used as a qualifying tournament for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and also for Olympic Games.

    Attached is link to video of Karlie highlights in game versus Greece.

      November 12, 2018

      By:  Kelly D. Evans
      When Candice Wiggins scored 41 points in an NCAA tournament game during her 
      senior year at Stanford University, she called it a miracle.
      “It was like divine intervention,” Wiggins said. “People don’t understand there’s miracles that happen every day.”
      The game on March 31, 2008, was a regional final pitting No. 2 seed Stanford against the No. 1-seeded University of Maryland. The winner would go to the Final Four. But before the game, Wiggins was struggling to stay confident.
      “My WNBA status was going to be determined by the way I performed, and I was going to be remembered by the way this game went, which I thought was kind of unfair,” recalled Wiggins, 31.
      Before the game, she’d read an article that compared her to her late father, MLB player Alan Wiggins, who died of AIDS when she was just 4 years old.
      “I thought, Wow. It doesn’t even matter what I’m doing. All people care about is my father. They’re going to judge me by my father. No one’s going to ever judge me by me.”
      She sought help from her grandmother, who in 1984 had prayed for Alan Wiggins when he was with the San Jose Padres and they were facing the Chicago Cubs in the postseason.
      “The words she offered me were so comforting,” Wiggins said. “He was kind of in a similar moment where he was freaking out at the height of his moment. My grandmother, she prayed over him in the stadium. That was what she was doing during the Maryland game.”
      Wiggins also offered up her own prayer: “Help. Be with me. If nothing else, God, I know you’re with me.”
      She went 10-of-22 from the field, including 5-of-11 on 3-pointers. And she was 16-for-19 from the free throw line. She called the game an out-of-body moment.
      “In a lot of ways, my whole four years at Stanford was a miracle,” she said. “It was like every day there was something intervening, and just with this great power. I attribute it to my belief.”
      Her reliance on God started after her father’s death.
      “There was always the biggest gaping hole with my father’s story,” Wiggins said. “He went on to just do all these amazing things, and as a baseball player he led the Padres to a World Series and was almost MVP of Major League Baseball [in 1984]. But when I started learning about his life, he struggled with his belief. He was just not sure that he knew if he had the faith. His lack of faith and his lack of belief was something that really swallowed him.”
      Alan Wiggins struggled with drug abuse for many years. Wiggins was born in Baltimore when Alan Wiggins was playing for the Baltimore Orioles. He soon moved the family to Southern California. His funeral was held at Calvary CME Church in Pasadena, where her grandmother has been a member for 62 years. Wiggins still attends that church but also spends time at two others: The Promise Church in Escondido and The Rock Church in San Diego with Pastor Miles McPherson.
      “I think that a lot of times your spiritual journey is seen as a private thing, and I think for a long time for me it’s been like that,” Wiggins said. “I think once I got to that public place, especially being a professional athlete, I realized a lot of my story is tied to my dad’s story in a lot of ways and ways that I wasn’t even aware of. My faith came natural for me. I think he found a lot of distress or he didn’t find solutions and answers. I actually found the answers that I was looking for.”
      Wiggins earned a full ride to Stanford after leading her high school basketball team to two state titles. A guard, she was selected in the first round of the 2008 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx, winning the Sixth Woman of the Year award as a rookie. She played in Minnesota for five seasons, including a championship in 2011, and then spent a year apiece playing for the Tulsa Shock, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty. She also spent time overseas in Spain and Greece. During her WNBA career, she averaged 8.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. When she retired in 2016, she created controversy when she called the WNBA “toxic” and said she was treated poorly because she was outspoken about being heterosexual.
      “When I got to New York, my faith was very intense,” Wiggins said. “I’d have index cards of Scriptures. My confidence was something I struggled with. It’s like once you realize the power comes from the word inside the Bible, that’s when you really open up a whole world of tools that you just can’t find anywhere else.”
      Attending chapel became her rock in the WNBA.
      “We’d always meet and you have a little lesson, and then you’d say a prayer,” Wiggins said. “Sometimes it’s led by players, and it was my sanctuary. It was the one place that I would always go to no matter what was going on.”
      During her time with the Lynx, teammate Maya Moore introduced her to gospel music.
      “That year was the year we won our championship, and so I really felt like God was answering a lot of prayers for me,” Wiggins said. “Maya was like a sent package from God. When Maya was 12 years old, she was listening to Christian gospel artists Mary Mary. When I was 12 years old I had the entire Slim Shady LP memorized.
      “There’s so many miracles that we pass by. We can see it and we just ignore them, and for me, I think I just believed in miracles.”

        October 12, 2018

        Chiney is taking it easy

        Chiney won't be playing professional basketball abroad in the 2018-19 season

        She's taking a break from having two full-time jobs and concentrating on her ESPN duties where she’s an NBA analyst.

        September 13, 2018

        Britt heading way down under

        Brittany McPhee will begin her professional basketball career with the Perth Lynx on the west coast of Australia.

        Craig O'Donoghue (The West Australian) reports how this came to be: Sami Whitcomb’s endorsement leads to Perth Lynx signing import Brittany McPhee.

        Stanford Athletics chronicles Britt's collegiate accomplishments: McPhee signs in Australia.

        September 12, 2018

        Nneka is finalist for USA Basketball World Cup team

        Nneka has spent the past couple of weeks at the USA Basketball Womens's World Cup training camp, and has been selected as one of the 16 finalists for the team.

        The team has departed for France, where they will play in a four-team, international tournament against Canada, France and Senegal. The final 12-member USA World Cup Team will be selected prior to the start of the World Cup.

        More information: