When it comes to basketball, bigger is better. So it’s no surprise that the women’s basketball team is having the success it’s having right now.
The Owls (17-11, 10-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) have won 10 of their last 11 games, and three 6-footers have helped make this run possible.
Senior have worked on and off the court to enhance their team’s performance. Each has a different style of play, but come together for a domineering assault. Practice sessions have been vital in creating a formula that works for the trio.
“We practice a lot – trying high-low passes or just defense, knowing that the other [player] has your back if you’re going out to trap or something like that. So we talk to each other,” Comfort said. “We’re just playing well with each other in practice, trying to carry it on to the game.”
Comfort has had her share of struggles early in the season, but through patience she has regained her form and set an example for her successors. She is second on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game, and first in collecting rebounds with 8.2 per game.
“Lady is Lady,” coach Dawn Staley said. “We’re very comfortable with Lady out there on the floor. She opens the floor up for us. She’s happy she’s playing her best basketball right now.”
Cotton has been a work in progress this season.
It has taken time for the junior college transfer from Gulf Coast Community College to familiarize herself with Division I basketball. However, she has been peaking as of late, averaging 9.8 points in her last five games. She is third on the team in rebounds with 5.3 per game. Recently, her strength has been securing offensive rebounds, but she’s still struggling on the defensive side.
“With Shanea, offensively I think she gives us a threat on the floor,” Staley said. “Defensively, I think she needs a little bit more time to get acclimated to being aware of the types of things that we look for on the defensive end. She’s working at it, it’s just I think sometimes she loses vision.”
One thing that has kept Cotton focused has been her peers. Communication has been essential among the three players. New lessons are learned everyday.
“Being that I’m a newcomer, Shenita and Lady know I need a lot of help,” Cotton said. “Just them being there to support me makes me work just as hard because I know I have big shoes to fill.”
Landry has seen her role shift throughout the season. She started in 17 games, but soon found herself slumping. From the bench, her optimism gave her the ability to adjust.
“It’s just another place to play,” Landry said. “It’s not really much of a difference, it’s just coming in the game at a different time.”
It didn’t take long for Landry to rekindle her touch offensively and spark the defense with rebounds and blocks again. She is currently second on the team in rebounds at 5.7 per game. She is tied for first on the team with 25 blocks.
“Shenita is going to be a coach,” Staley explained. “I think Shenita understands the game a little bit more, she knows where to pick and chooses her spots. She knows how we like to change defenses up, sometimes in the middle of a play.”
Being able to rotate in a fresh forward from the bench has given the Owls enormous flexibility on the court.
Opponents rarely have an opportunity to attack the rim with the Owls’ height advantage in the low post. Offensively, if any of the big three draw a double team, they can simply dish it out to the perimeter for an open look.
All three players have endured bouts of inefficiency, and all three have spent time on the bench during the course of the year.
It has been a frustrating ride at times, but the growing pains appear to be over, and consistency has been reached. Whether the Owls can take advantage of this and land an A-10 title will be a question soon answered in the upcoming weeks.
For now though, it is certain that most opponents will be looking up to the versatile trio of Comfort, Cotton and Landry for the remainder of the season.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.