Flashes of freshmen talent gives women’s hoops hope for future seasons
With post-season aspirations over for the NAU women’s basketball team, it is refreshing to see head coach Laurie Kelly attempting to get a head start on next season.
With a season-ending knee injury to senior point guard Caty Huntington and a strained foot ligament keeping sophomore forward Shay May out the past five games, a trio of freshman has seen steady playing time.
Each freshman has stood out in a game for clearly gaining effective experience, more than can be said for the middling men’s team with no direction and an uncertain future.
Freshman point guard Jasmine Sneed has played at least eight minutes in the past 10 games, averaging 13 minutes in the past five games since Huntington went down against Eastern Washington in Cheney, Wash. While averaging 2.6 points and an assist in those five games, Sneed played a role in the Lumberjacks’ road win this season. With Weber State inbounding under its own basket, leading 82–81, and only 15 seconds remaining in the game, Sneed tipped the pass into the hands of junior Amy Patton who put the ball right up for the go-ahead basket. Sneed then hit a pair of free throws to ice the game for the 85–82 win.
Additionally, Sneed dished out a career-high four assists and played a career-high 21 minutes in the Lumberjacks’ most recent game against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners.
Freshman center Raven Anderson averaged eight minutes in the past four games. Prior to the recent increase in playing time, Anderson had totaled 16 minutes in the previous 14 games. Against conference leading Idaho State, Anderson provided a spark when she scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in only six first half minutes.
Against Montana State, the freshman center scored a career-high nine points and tied a career-high with six rebounds. Of the six rebounds, five came on the offensive boards.
Lastly, freshman power forward Erikka Banks has stepped in to fill the void left by May. Since May’s injury against Eastern Washington, Banks has averaged 15 minutes in the last six games. By comparison, Banks had averaged eight minutes in the six before that.
Banks’ highlight of the recent stretch came against Weber State, when she recorded a career-high 12 points and eight rebounds in the Lumberjacks single road win.
Obviously, each remains raw in their abilities and has clear room for improvement. Kelly has said she feels all three are bound to make the basic mistakes you expect freshman to make but each has shown flashes of potential.
At times it even appears as if Sneed is trying to do too much on the court. Kelly said previously that Anderson possibly lacks the knowledge or maybe conditioning, but is beginning to hit her stride and already may be the team’s best offensive threat in the low post. And Banks flashed her athletic ability, causing Kelly to call her a “freak athlete” who should have a “phenomenal career.”
The three have been on the court all at the same time in the past few games, providing a glimpse of a lineup you could expect to see for years to come. Kelly said the three are the future of the program, whose potential provides the chance to be major contributors next season.
The future remains unknown. Results will need to be seen on the court going forward. Otherwise these flashes become just that, flashes, rather than sustained results. At the very least, it has given us something to enjoy late in this otherwise disappointing season.