BAYONNE, NJ - Much has been chronicled regarding the jump from high school to college basketball. Often the discussion is centered over making that huge transition to Division I. What about Divisions II and III? Division II especially, is a big step up from the 32 minute realm of prep basketball. The demands and effort are rarely discussed.
Tara Flynn made that jump. A graduate of Bayonne (NJ) High School in 2012, Flynn had a few Division I possibilities but settled on a solid D II program in Adelphi.
Since the age of seven she ventured into Jersey City and the Hamilton Park courts in search of the best competition. Progressing through the ranks, Flynn was selected All-county three times during her Bayonne High School career. She was well aware college presented a serious challenge. Being cognizant and experiencing it are two different things. Her advice to an aspiring college player is simple.
"The Summer before you go to school (college) make sure you run, run and run some more," she said. "Conditioning is so important as you are looking at 5 a.m. practices and sometimes three-a-day sessions."
Flynn knew the demands, was conditioned, but never experienced anything like this.
Her high school program at Bayonne was very strong and demanding, but nothing like this.
"Every Friday during pre-season after practice I would call my father crying," she said. "I wanted to quit. Practice and conditioning were so demanding. You have to be in top shape."
Flynn was, so the short term option of quitting was eliminated in favor of perseverance.
Flynn not only had to face the rigors of the college game. She had to adapt to a new position: a point guard in high school, she was asked to shift to the off guard position. On the surface a big change, not so in Flynn's estimation.
"Once you learn and can play the point, the other positions are not as difficult," she said. "As a two guard you can think about what your point guard is doing initiating the offense. You can adjust off that. I really think learning the point is much more difficult."
Flynn, at 5-6 admits limitations in the quickness and sheer speed department The equalizer is an outstanding basketball IQ. She thinks the game every minute and thinks it extremely well. The shift, as she said, to the off guard was rather easy.
The physicality of the college game was another thing. Told her that Lauren Mincy of Maryland (whom Flynn played against in AAU a few years back) commented on how physical the screens and fight through them was. Flynn agreed wholeheartedly with a recent memory.
"Merrimack was a team we played that screens you to death," she said. "You have to be ready physically. If you can't get through a screen and/or blow an assignment you are letting your entire team down on defense."
As we spoke teams of 10- to 12-year-old girls were competing at the Hunterdon AAU Tournament. Flynn elaborated on every question yet never missed a dead ball opportunity to stop the clock as official time keeper. The quintessential basketball multi-tasker.
On recruiting, she said that a few Division I schools pursed her. Albany was one. A strong connection was due to Cassandra Calloway. Another Bayonne product, Calloway led Albany to the 2012 NCAA tournament, knew what Flynn could contribute and advised her coaches. Siena also went after her hard. Flynn took a long look and decided Adelphi was a good fit.
Adelphi is a strong program, close to home (Garden City, Long Island) and a good level. Pace recruited her very aggressively, to the point they kept recruiting after she verballed to Adelphi. Flynn did not look upon Pace's aggressiveness with annoyance - in fact she enjoyed the recruiting process.
"The phone calls, the emails, I enjoyed getting them," she said. "In fact they motivated me as a player."
Adelphi finished 15-13 this past season. Flynn averaged 11.7 minutes per game this season but was closer to twenty minutes per down the stretch which bodes well for the upcoming campaign. She averaged 3.3 points per game with a game high of 15 points in a win over St. Anselm.
In her estimation, the level of Division II is not far below the low majors of D I. The demands are virtually the same.
"You are getting paid," she said in reference to a scholarship providing a college education. "So much is expected of you. The three a days, conditioning, the expectations are high but that is something you accept."
A sports management major, Flynn will play in the Montclair State League this Summer. There is also the individual workout as prescribed for each team member by the Adelphi staff. A part time Summer job is also part of her 'off season'.
In essence there is no 'off season'. The recognition for programs on the Division II level is less than that allotted the D I schools. Still, players and teams who strive to improve the commitment is the same. Tara Flynn knew that fact before. The experience of the past season simply reinforced it.