Croup’s Corner – Adapting without a Forse


Photo by Sam Robinson | Point Park Athletics

Senior forward Carly Forse looks to pass the ball against Alderson Broaddus on Dec. 6. Forse is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Pioneers are now 2-5 in games without her this season.

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

The story of the Point Park women’s basketball team in recent years has been its ability to overcome injuries.

Each of the past three seasons, the Pioneers have had a star player or two suffer season-ending injuries. They can never catch a break, but they always seem to at least battle through the injuries to pull out some tough victories.

The beginning of the 2016-17 season was no different.

This roster had so much potential. It had a mix of star veterans combined with new recruits that made for an impressive and deep bench.

Sam Weir was an all-conference player her freshman year in 2013-14 and helped the Pioneers to a Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Tournament championship and an appearance at the national tournament.

Weir played only five games the next season, suffering a season-ending knee injury. She transferred out of the program, but returned to Point Park for the 2016-17 season.

She picked up where she left off to start the 2016 campaign, averaging almost 15 points per game with five rebounds per game.

But Weir played only five games this year, breaking her foot in the fifth game of the season, sidelining her for the rest of the year once again.

The Pioneers did what they had in the past years when they lost Weir and other star players: adapt and advance.

Senior Carly Forse emerged from a successful junior season that resulted in an All-KIAC First Team nod. She stepped up after the Weir injury to help lead the team to a 12-1 record to start the season and led the Pioneers’ offense with 11.1 points per game.

The Bishop Canevin graduate helped the Point Park defense with a team-high 32 steals and contributed five rebounds per game entering the Dec. 12 contest against Carlow.

Everything was going right for Forse. She and teammate Celina DiPietro both led their high school to Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics League (WPIAL) and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association titles in 2013 and cliqued together on the court in college.

She became the 13th player in the Point Park women’s basketball program’s 39-year history to notch 1,000 career points on Nov. 29, padding her Point Park resume. Forse never missed a game in her three-plus seasons as a Pioneer, starting every game.

She caught the eye of Pittsburgh’s Trib Total Media, which published a story noting her durability and the team’s ability to overcome injury.

The article was published days before that Dec. 12 contest against Carlow – the day the Pioneers’ fortunes turned.

It seemed like it was only a matter of time. When everything was going right for Point Park, when it looked like the Pioneers finally were going to have a deep roster heading down the stretch of the season, life decided to throw another wrench in the Pioneers’ plans.

Forse went down hard in the first quarter and grabbed her shoulder in visible pain. She walked off the court with trainer Kristin Baker and got her shoulder wrapped on the training table behind the Point Park bench.

She may not have known it at the time, but that was the last game Forse would play on the 2016-17 season. Her return is dependent on the NAIA’s decision to grant her another year of eligibility next year, but that’s if she returns to Point Park. She may have played her final game in a Point Park uniform.

Point Park did hold on to defeat Carlow that night 67-53, but the road ahead was by no means going to be easy.

In fact, it’s probably been the toughest road bump the Pioneers have had to overcome in my three years at the university.

Point Park improved to 13-1 and 3-0 in River States Conference (RSC) play after the Carlow victory. Since then, Point Park has gone 2-5 with a 2-3 record in RSC competition.

The Pioneers did manage to receive votes in the NAIA Top-25 Coaches Poll in that time, but will most likely fall out of the rankings this week.

Point Park dropped both games last weekend on the road with a pair of RSC road games on tap for this weekend.

The absence of Forse has been hard to ignore. In the 14 games that Forse started, Point Park averaged 74.4 points per game and allowed 51.9 points per game.

In the seven games since, Point Park has averaged just 69.7 points per game and has allowed 71.3 points per game, nearly a 20-point increase.

The Pioneers have lost five of their last seven games and have a tough stretch of RSC games ahead of them. Point Park is 8-1 at home this year, where it will play four of its remaining nine games.

Those nine games won’t be easy, but the Pioneers have to do what they always have done when faced with adversity: adapt and advance.