“It’s awesome because, especially when she gets a good one, it’s clean, it gets everyone going,” freshman forward Meghan Roxas said. “We get so hyped after that.”
Roxas is talking about senior center Victoria Macaulay’s uncanny ability to block everything she sees of late.
It’s almost laughable at this point. Macaulay, who stands at 6 feet, 4 inches, simply has to put her hands straight up in the air and wait for a driving opponent to throw up a shot.
No emphatic swat at the ball, just an impenetrable wall.
“It just comes natural,” Macaulay said. “I’m [tall] as it is. I should be blocking shots like that. It just took me up to now to really get more blocks and just really take my time.”
For three years there hasn’t been a shot-blocker like her on the roster. It’s a refreshing change.
Women’s basketball, unlike its masculine counterpart, is not known for its physical, imposing style of player. Blocks at Temple are more synonymous with sophomore center Anthony Lee or senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson on the men’s side than Macaulay.
Well, guys, take some notes.
Macaulay doesn’t take a leaping swing at a shot most of the time the way you might see at a men’s game. She doesn’t have to jump really. With a wingspan that reaches higher than opponents can jump and get a clear shot over, it’s simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
“I think the last couple of teams that we played against have been teams that penetrate a lot,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “So because they’re penetrating there’s more opportunities for her.”
“And I think that she’s grown in the sense that her first couple of years she tried to block everything, and a lot of times she was off-balance and ended up fouling,” Cardoza added. “I think she picks and chooses when to go after them and the timing is a lot better and her body control is a lot better, so it [has] made her a better shot blocker.”
Women’s basketball doesn’t get attention largely because of its lack of the thunderous dunks and game-changing blocks. About the only player who has that impact is Baylor’s senior center Brittney Griner. Every time she dunks in a game it’s a big deal.
I’m not saying I want to see the women’s game become more like the men’s game. As much as I love watching a LeBron James chase-down block and gawk at old video of Michael Jordan dunks, I have a fond appreciation for the way the women’s game is played, with more finesse.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing to watch a nine-block game like the one Macaulay had Feb. 10 against Saint Louis, two shy of the Temple record.
“I never know how many blocks I have until after the game, and just realizing that I had nine blocks was really awesome,” Macaulay said.
The past few games have seemed effortless. A player drives into the paint, has to kick out to the edge to try and beat Macaulay to the backboard, stops before they hit the baseline to pull up and shoot something between a shorter jumper and layup, only to see Macaulay just standing there with arms high and no need to do anything else. The ball doesn’t go sailing into the stands but the point has been made nonetheless.
That has been the theme in the past five games. Macaulay has 29 blocks in that span, including five or more in four of those games. She set a career high with seven against Massachusetts on Feb. 3, and reset it a week later with nine against Saint Louis.
And she’s catapulted to the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference with 72, and was 12th in the nation with 2.79 per game heading into the game against St. Joseph’s on Sunday. She now stands in fourth place in career blocks (192), sixth in blocks per game (1.68).
“I think every team now should be scared,” Roxas said. “They can look at the scouting report and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, she had nine blocks.’ They should be scared to go in the paint. It gives us a little bit of an advantage in the scare-factor I think.”
Roxas would certainly be scared if she saw that coming up.
“I got blocked in Georgetown,” she said. “The wind was in my hair, my headband went back, but you just have to not let it get to you I think…I don’t like getting blocked.”
Macaulay must have the same effect on her opponents.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jakeadams520.