Newly arrived freshman Juan Fernandez isn’t the only first-year point guard gracing the Liacouras Center court these days, though he gets the most hype.
Junior LaKeisha Eaddy has had to make the move to the same position for the women’s basketball team, taking over for the departed Ashley Morris.
All Morris did last season was lead the team in scoring and dish 147 assists, good for fourth in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment taking over for Ashley, but I know that I have a lot of support and a lot of people that depend on me, so they’re helping me out through this transition,” Eaddy said. “I’m just trying to lead them and be a point guard.”
Though she’d never played a minute at the position prior to this season, Eaddy did have some experience on her side. Two years ago, she contributed a team-high 116 assists, the highest total for a freshman in school history. Last season, she finished second in the category with 94.
Through 17 games so far this year, Eaddy has dished a team-high 88 assists, third in the A-10, and ranks fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.6 points per game. Her first career double-double – 12 points and 12 assists – came versus Rhode Island in a 95-48 victory on Jan. 14.
“Knowing that I’m able to pass the ball and distribute it at any time really helps me, and it opens up the floor for me to score as well,” Eaddy said. “My teammates help me out a lot [with balancing scoring and passing]. They always keep me focused. If I’m open, they tell me to take the shot, go to the basket.”
But despite posting those balanced numbers, coach Tonya Cardoza still sees room for improvement.
A point guard is supposed to be the team’s leader out on the court, calling and running the offensive sets, directing teammates and finding the open shot. Fading into the background is not an option.
“Some days, she does an excellent job of leading our team. Sometimes she forgets that she’s the point guard and wants to be a two-guard, and that’s when we struggle,” Cardoza said. “It’s not the assists part that she struggles with. It’s the ‘this is my team and whatever happens to the team is my responsibility.’ But that’s just a work in progress because we know that’s not her natural position, but it’s a position that in order for us to be successful that she has to buy into.”
While she works on her point guard presence on the court, Eaddy’s zeroed in on one aspect of her game and the position that she’s already comfortable with – and one that she just happens to be pretty good at.
“I definitely want to break the assists record, especially the 15 assists in one game,” Eaddy said. “I think that’s my main goal. But I just want to get better at all areas of the point guard. It’s hard having to take the responsibility for everything because at times you don’t feel like things are your fault, but you just have to take it on the chin and say it’s your bad.”
Having watched Eaddy for three seasons now, senior forward Shenita Landry sees how much she’s matured and how much she’s still capable of accomplishing.
“I went to USA Basketball camp before I came here, and I saw Renee Montgomery,” Landry said. “She plays the one, but she really wasn’t. I talked to Coach about this, and when she got to UConn, she didn’t really want to play the one. However, they molded her, and she’s the best guard in the NCAA.”
And Landry sees the same types of things in Eaddy.
“I feel like Keisha has the potential to be one of the best guards in the NCAA,” Landry said. “She can see the floor like no other person. She’s fast, she can play defense, and she also knocks down shots. She has the potential to be a great point guard.”
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.