By Tom Robinson
Long before she was done as a four-year player at Dunmore High School, Victoria Toomey could run through each Lady Bucks play without having to think about it.
As a freshman preparing for her first game at Rider University, it may be a while before Toomey, a long-time JB Hoops AAU player, can find that level of comfort.
“Coming from Dunmore, I knew every single play like the back of my hand and then, coming here, it’s like a whole new playbook,” Toomey said. “That’s been an adjustment for me.”
It is one of many for Toomey, who is now in the final week of preparation for the official beginning of her National College Athletic Association Division I basketball career.
It is also one of many examples Toomey gives on how helpful it has been for Rider’s freshman to have six senior teammates, including, in her case, two, Tracy Goodman and Aubre Johnson, who play the same position.
“They’ve been amazing with helping me and just not getting frustrated with me,” said Toomey, a two-time NEPABasketball.com District 2 Player of the Year and a Class 3A all-state selection at Dunmore. “They’re very patient and have really helped with me learning plays.”
The playbook is just one of the on-court changes Toomey is getting used to as the 6-foot-2 freshman, the only player listed as strictly a center on the Rider roster, gets ready for the speed of the major college game and the physicality of playing in the post on that level.
Toomey is glad she reported to the Lawrenceville, N.J. school in early July. It gave her time to get started academically with two A’s in summer courses and put her in position to be part of an August training trip to Puerto Rico with the team.
Rider played three exhibition games on the Puerto Rico tour, dropping two- and three-point decisions to finish 1-2, and had a scrimmage with Loyola of Maryland last week. It has an exhibition scheduled tonight against the College of New Jersey before opening the regular season Tuesday at Princeton. The second game is Nov. 10 at Penn State.
“Adjustment” is the term to which Toomey often returns.
“Being here in the summer definitely has helped,” she said.
Associate head coach Pam Durkin had the same outlook following a 56-44 win over Cangregjeras to begin the trip.
“It was great to put the uniforms on and play,” Durkin said, according to a story on the school website. “Mixing seven upperclassmen with four freshmen and two sophomores was the biggest reason we wanted to take this trip.”
Toomey offered her observations in the same story.
“I was nervous with this being my first game,” she said at the time, “but we have great team leaders that talk us through everything and the experience was really fun.”
Toomey’s last official game was the state championship in Hershey where Dunmore suffered its only loss in a season that produced Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 titles.
Rider has high hopes entering the season.
After a third straight trip to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) semifinals and the program’s second appearance ever in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, the Broncs are picked third in the conference’s preseasons poll. That is the highest they have been projected since joining the MAAC.
Rider was 14-4 in the conference and 19-13 overall last season.