Bronagh Power-Cassidy might be far from her home in Ireland, but the Holy Cross junior receives frequent reminders that she’s part of a tight-knit basketball world.
They often come from older sister Saoirse, a former UMass Lowell player who still lives in Lowell and frequently attends Holy Cross games sporting an Irish flag. Other times, they come by crossing paths with an opponent who Power-Cassidy first met while competing on Ireland national teams.
“For you to run into them and get to know them when you’re in those countries playing against them in a completely different world, and move across to the US — it’s funny to run into them,” she said.
The younger Power-Cassidy is one example of basketball’s global influence reaching the local collegiate stage. Eight of the nine Division 1 programs in Massachusetts have at least one player who grew up in another country.
The list includes Boston College’s T’Yana Todd (Canada); Boston University’s Anastasiia Semenova (Russia); Harvard’s Elena Rodriguez (Spain); Merrimack’s Lydia Melaschenko (Canada); Northeastern’s Derin Erdogan (Turkey), Anna Boruta (Austria), and Gemima Motema (Congo); Stonehill’s Sharn Hayward (Australia); and UMass Lowell’s Ella Ner (Israel) and Mili Carrera (Peru). UMass’s Angelique Ngalakulondi moved from Congo at age 4.
“There’s a lot of talent out there — not just in the States,” Holy Cross coach Maureen Magarity said.
Power-Cassidy grew up in Dublin and spent one year in Connecticut at Marianapolis Prep before arriving at Holy Cross. But she honed her toughness playing for her country’s youth national teams and joined the senior women’s roster this past summer. The Crusaders will travel to Ireland next year to play local teams.
The 5-foot-10-inch guard has to make slight adjustments between US and international play. The shot clock lasts 30 seconds in college but 24 seconds abroad, and the European game has a faster pace with more physicality. Magarity sees Power-Cassidy’s versatility stand out; she is second on the team in scoring with 12 points per game.
“She’s super versatile, and I think a lot of [international] players do that,” Magarity said. “They’re just very versatile players.”
Northeastern coach Bridgette Mitchell played professionally in France and Poland, and has guided several international players in her two seasons with the Huskies.
Erdogan, from Istanbul, is a point guard averaging 14.8 points and 2.8 assists after transferring from Arizona. She has dazzled with her 3-point shooting and creative passing — a product of her own ingenuity and experience with Turkish national teams.
“When you’re a great passer and you can score in all three of those ways, it makes you really challenging to guard,” Mitchell said.
When players come to Northeastern from abroad, Mitchell often starts with fine-tuning their footwork since different regions teach different techniques.
“It’s just that the game is changing, and that’s the thing that you observe most frequently, is footwork and reminders,” she said. “Pivot development, jab-step development, things like that.”
The internet, social media, and basketball’s globalization have made international recruiting more accessible. Like Power-Cassidy many players come to the United States for high school, giving coaches another way to reach talent. According to coaches, the draw of a city like Boston and having a large travel hub in Logan Airport, plus each school’s individual appeal, make the region an attractive destination.
Boston College recently signed NeNe Ndiaye (Senegal) and Lili Krasovec (Hungary) as part of its 2023 recruiting class. Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee believes it’s getting harder to find hidden gems abroad, but the worldwide scope means it’s still possible.
“They’re rare, but there’s an opportunity,” she said.
Power-Cassidy often chats with her Crusader teammates, including Canadian Callie Wright, a forward swho transferred from Memphis, about the differences in their basketball journeys. There’s no AAU scene in Ireland. The club basketball landscape is much different in the United States. Yet roads from countries around the world have led players to Massachusetts.
“It’s interesting for me to even just see [that] there’s so many different ways we’ve all gotten to the same place,” Power-Cassidy said.
BC took close wins against Northeastern and Providence this past week. Sophomore Maria Gakdeng racked up double-digit rebounds in both contests along with five total blocks. Bernabei-McNamee also praised the center’s passing prowess. “[Gakdeng’s] down in there battling, and every time they have to send two people to stop her, somebody on the perimeter is wide open,” she said … BU forward Caitlin Weimar was named Patriot League Player of the Week … UConn faces Duke Friday (6 p.m.) in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament. The matchup pits two of the top Massachusetts high school recruits in recent years against each other in former Bridgewater-Raynham star Shay Bollin (Duke) and Nobles standout Caroline Ducharme (UConn).