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STRONG, SILENT TYPE
HUMBLE COURTNEY MATTINGLY IS BONA'S QUIET SENIOR STAR WHO LEADS BY EXAMPLE

She walks onto the court with her stoic expression, hair tightly pulled back and eyes looking toward the sideline.

Who does coach Jim Crowley want her to be today?

Ask her to settle the team down as the point guard, and she's calmly orchestrating a backdoor play. Need her to score, and she's draining a three-pointer.

Put her at forward and she's grinding for rebounds and skidding across the sideline to desperately keep a play alive.

Yes, Courtney Mattingly does everything for the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team except sweep the floor before the game.

"And she would if I asked her to," Crowley quips.

Mattingly may as well be the poster child for unselfish players. More often than not, the senior guard is all things to all people when it comes to basketball.

But she'd really rather not talk about herself.

Not even to her parents.

"It kills me because we found out that she made the (Atlantic 10) second team and the all-academic team from somebody else," said her father, Tim. "We talk to her, but she won't tell us. She never, ever talks about herself. . . . Even if she has a fantastic game she won't tell us. She just won't. I don't know if she gets embarrassed by it or what, but she's just a very humble, sincere team player. She just always has been. It's never been about her own stats, never been about herself, and I'm proud of her for that."

Yes, humility is Mattingly's most obvious virtue.

She ranked in the top 15 in the A-10 last season in scoring (13.4), rebounding (6.4) and assists (94). She's started every game the past two years, averaging 31.6 minutes of playing time in her career. She's 78 points shy of becoming the 12th Bona woman to join the 1,000-point club and ranks third on the school's all-time three-pointer chart with 154.

On top of that, the psychology major with the 3.5 grade-point average is a two-time member of the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll.

But ask her about growing comfortable with her role as the star player, the ball-handler in the clutch, and she stumbles through her response as if she just ran into a low-post screen.

"I've never felt a lot of pressure on me as far as skillwise or talent-wise because I know I don't have it," Mattingly said. "I'm not that go-to person, that skilled person or whatever. But the pressure to get the job done, to just go out there and give it all and play hard and get a win, I think that's there still."

It's classic Courtney.

"She knows she's an important part of this team and feels as though she contributes," said assistant coach Marti Whitmore, Mattingly's first head coach at Bona. "But I don't think she understands what an integral part she is and how much other people really count on her. She does whatever you need her to do without question. That's just her personality."

Her personality on the court also has a twinge of desperation to it.

In Bona's exhibition game against Syracuse AAU, Mattingly dove after a loose ball, falling between another player's legs to get a steal or, at the very least, a jump ball. This was in an exhibition game when Bona had a 23-point second-half lead.

"The team, basically, it doesn't revolve around her, but if Courtney gets excited about something we're all going to feed off that," sophomore Lyndsey Maurer said. "I think she's just the spirit of our team. . . . She never stops. She works hard in the weight room and I think the freshmen see that and they want to work hard, too. But she's also a vocal leader. She'll get excited on the court and start yelling and cheering, and everyone responds to that pretty positively."

Her confidence has matured from a shy, freshman into a player who willingly trades criticisms with her head coach. Her skills have become finer. Her strength has become more pronounced. And her focus remains unmatched.

The Mattingly anecdotes seem endless.

There's the time she played peewee football while growing up in Bainbridge, northeast of Binghamton. She broke her pinkie on the first play but refused to come out of the game. She finished the game before having the finger reset and put in a cast.

There was the routine preseason fitness test this fall, when she lifted 300 pounds on the leg press. She was upset when the coaching staff stopped her at 100 reps. She easily could have done more.

There was the trip to Europe this summer, when she looked forward to running the team's new offenses more than anything else - including "The Sound of Music" tour, during which the guide ruined one of Mattingly's favorite movies with nasty, negative comments.

Mattingly doesn't have time for negative thoughts. She's dealt with enough during her four years at Bona, including a torturous sophomore season when the Bonnies went 7-21 overall, 3-13 in the A-10.

"She's called. She's been upset. She's cried," her father said. "She gets sick of losing, especially two years ago when they were 7-21. That was a very difficult year. Obviously, with losing, there's fingers being pointed and everything, but she always handled everything with grace. She does not like to lose, so she never quits. She never stops working."

How did she get through the lean years?

"Honestly, I found it very easy for me because first of all, we leaned on each other as teammates and as competitors," she said.

If there is a bit of a selfish streak in her, it resides in that ultracompetitive part of her personality. The part that wants to win, whether she scores two points or 20, is the part that sets her agenda for her senior season.

"I don't want to put a single title or name to it, but honestly, 18 or over wins (is what I want)," Mattingly said. "I'm tired of saying, "Oh, you know we do good, or we have a good time.' Right now, it's 18 or more wins . . . winning the A-10 Tournament and being up there second or first throughout the league the entire season. Obviously, making NCAAs (is on the agenda)."

Along the way, she'll take her place among the leaders in St. Bonaventure's record book. She'll probably be an all-academic selection again and make a strong case for first team A-10 honors.

Just don't expect her to bring that up.

Mattingly's numbers
Year Min. Pts. Reb.

Freshman 29.3 7.9 4.2

Sophomore 31.4 11.3 4.8

Junior 34.2 13.4 6.4< Career 31.6 10.8 5.1< e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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