Season of change
Michael Bauer | sports reporter
For Drew Roberts, it has been a season of change, on and off the court.
She’s had to endure the death of her father, her transition to a point guard role in the wake of team injuries and now she is a new member of what the Pitt State coaches call “The Club.”
“The Club” is the unofficial name for PSU players who score 1,000 career points. As the newest person to achieve that milestone, Roberts joins 15 players in the history of Gorilla women’s basketball. She is the first person to accomplish the feat since assistant coach and former PSU player Amanda Davied did 10 years ago.
Roberts scored her momentous basket on Saturday, Feb. 23, in the Gorillas’ 79-68 win over Central Oklahoma.
“It’s a great feeling because I’m the 16th player at this school to achieve it,” Roberts said. “I definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve this if it weren’t for my coaches and teammates to help me get it.”
Roberts, a senior from Blue Springs, Mo., has had a career with ample playing time all four years, All-Conference honors in her sophomore and junior seasons and has helped the Gorillas to a five-game winning streak in hopes of getting back to the NCAA division II tournament.
It’s no surprise that Roberts has been able to switch from forward to guard position. It also should come as no surprise that the move has been smooth. After all, Roberts is no stranger to playing point guard.
“She’s done this before as a freshman and a little bit as a sophomore,” head coach Lane Lord said. “We trust her in those situations.”
Lord says there’s no doubt of Roberts’ ball-handling skills and that her mid-range game has constructed a comfortable transaction in positions.
“She’s a great basketball player and she has shown that she can play anywhere,” Lord said.
When she does play point guard, she manages to beat the post and get a lot of assists.
“I really like it,” Roberts said. “I know I’m just trying to help out any way I can. We’ve been winning five straight now, so I think it’s a better fit for me this season.”
That’s especially true considering the obstacles her team has faced in its 2012-13 campaign.
So far this season, she has averaged 7.3 points a game. She has 48 assists total, but Roberts hasn’t been playing point guard the whole season.
While Alexa Bordewick has been the go-to person for playing point guard, she is one of a laundry list of players who got hurt. Bordewick has still seen playing time at guard, but Roberts has been sent in to share some of the burden.
“We’re down to nine players,” Lord said. “Bordewick has been injured. She’s a great point guard but she’s been hurt for most of the year, so we’ve been moving her to the two spot and free her up.”
Roberts has responded with 15 out of her last 25 shots for three-pointers.
It has become a win-win situation for Bordewick and Roberts. When Roberts is required to go inside, Bordewick has responded with shots from the outside, hitting the most three-pointers on the team in the last four games.
“I mean Alexis is a junior this year and she’s been at the point guard before,” Roberts said. “I think there are no hard feelings between me and her and she’s been hitting the three’s so it’s been a good transition for us.”
But it hasn’t been a permanent transition. Every now and then, Lord will put Roberts and Bordewick in their original positions.
“(Roberts) still plays the two spot, but when we need someone to handle the ball, we let her do that,” Lord said.
Roberts faced another tough transition: the death of her dad, David Roberts, last year.
“With him not being here, it’s definitely been different,” Roberts said. “Just thinking about him not being in the stands is crazy but I’ve had so much support, especially with my mom. I’ve been closer to her and my sisters and my grandma.”
She says her teammates have been supportive and she owes a lot to them for her 1,000-point achievement.
A recreation major, Roberts doesn’t know what she’ll be doing upon graduation.
“I won’t be a GA (graduate assistant) because I graduate next year, but I’ll be around the team next year,” Roberts said.
She cannot officially be a coach next season, but will she look into it in the future?
“That’s a possibility. But I know coach Lord wants me to help out next season,” Roberts said.
One thing is certain: When Roberts concludes her career, she and Lauren Brown will have the most wins in PSU recent history.
Going through adversity and having to transition her game in the face of injuries has said a lot about Roberts as a player. Lord says this is also true because of her height disadvantage. Roberts is only 5 feet, 6 six inches tall.
“She’s just a hard-nosed tough competitor,” Lord said. “She loves the game of basketball. She’s just an unbelievable competitor and teammate. One of the smallest players in the league, but she plays with a big heart.”
Gorillas send five to Nationals
Tim Spears | reporter
A top-five finish for the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams at the MIAA Indoor Championships on Feb. 24 included five Gorillas qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships.
At the conference championships in Warrensburg, Mo., the men’s team fell just 16 points shy of breaking the University of Central Missouri’s six-year streak of MIAA wins. Individual championships from senior Colbie Snyder in the pole vault (16 feet, 7.25 inches) and junior Keenan Soles in the long jump (24-01.75) had the Gorillas tied with the Mules after 14 events. Even so, UCM competitors were able to separate themselves in the standing over the final two races, winning their 18th MIAA title in 21 years. This was the second year in a row both Snyder and Soles have won their individual events.
Placing fifth with 54 team points, the Gorilla women accounted for the second and third best distances in the shot put by way of second-place senior Larissa Richards (45-4.5) and third-place sophomore Charissa Wall (44-9.75). Missouri Southern State University senior Kylie Cornman won the shot put with a 47-02.50 mark. The Lincoln Lady Blues captured the MIAA crown with 190.5 points as a team.
Senior Emily Ballock will be the only woman representing Pitt State at nationals. Ballock, a transfer from Wichita State University, was runner-up in the 600-yard run Sunday, with a time of one minute, 23.81 seconds, but will compete in the 800 meters at the indoor championships.
Snyder and Soles will join Ballock at nationals, which take place March 7-9 in Birmingham, Ala., and streamed live on NCAA.com. Additionally, sophomore Jeff Piepenbrink, who placed third in the pole vault (15 feet, 11.25 inches), and sophomore Jordan Riffel, runner-up in the 200 meter race (21.42 seconds), will compete in Alabama. Snyder, the former Missouri 4A state champion from Joplin High School, will be the highest seeded Gorilla having the second-best vault in Division II earlier this season at 16 feet, 9.5 inches.
Other men’s performances of note from Warrensburg include long jumper Steve Mann. The sophomore was runner-up in the event with a 23-05.25 mark. Junior Josh Phillips placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing 15 feet, 7.75 inches while senior Adam Volkert was third in the 3000 meter, finishing in eight minutes, 33.84 seconds. Volkert also placed second in the 5,000-meter race behind UCM’s Laban Sialo.
For the women, sophomore Bridgette McCormick, who competed in the mile run, finished fourth with a time of five minutes, 12.71seconds, less than five seconds slower than first-place Twishana Williams of Lincoln.
While competing in the 4×400 meter relay, Ballock, along with senior Hillary Dickey, freshman Lauren Ouderkirk and sophomore Ramie Grayson, had a time of three minutes, 55.89 seconds, 10.96 seconds behind first-place Lincoln.