Saturday, January 25, 2014

Valiuskyte, Booth Have Breakout Game Efforts Friday

Coaches can study film and watch their own players every day in practice and game settings.

But, even they can't ever be sure when one of their own will suddenly have the proverbial light switched on, when a player makes a breakthrough.

Two such occurrences were on display at Rider Friday evening when the Broncs' women nipped Siena, 73-70, in a MAAC contest.

Let's start with Rider's junior guard Kornelija Valiuskyte. The 5-foot-8 player, a native of Lithuania, seemed to have that breakout game at the end of the 2011-12 season when, due to an injury, she was thrust into her team's starting lineup for a MAAC tournament first-round game against Iona.

Valiuskyte performed valiantly in defeat that day, scoring 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting (3-of-5 from three-point range). Until then she had just 14 total points in the regular season, with a career high of four.

It helped earn her a starting spot in in 11 games last season, but her performances were not good enough to continue to earn key minutes. Her single-game scoring high in 2012-13 was eight points, and she only scored 43 points the entire year.

This season hadn't been going much better for Valiuskyte, who had only scored 22 total points prior to Friday's game and had yet to earn a spot in the starting lineup.

That changed, though, Friday when she got her first start of the season, a move that gave the Broncs an extra ball handler against an opponent adept at forcing turnovers.

Valiuskyte responded with the best game of her career since that MAAC tournament performance of two seasons ago. On Friday, she matched her career high of 13 points (5-of-7 shooting, 3-of-5 from three-point territory) in 35 minutes of court time.

But, she wasn't even the prime "breakout" performer in the game Friday. That designation had to go to Siena's 6-foot-1 junior forward Kelsey Booth, albeit in defeat.

Entering Friday's contest Booth had mostly been a lightly used specialist, an occasionally effective long-range shooter. Still, she only scored 52 points as a freshman and just 33 total points in all of 2012-13, while shooting 20.8 percent from the floor.

She had been playing better of late with efforts of five points/six rebounds in 24 minutes and nine/eight in 23 minutes in her previous two contests.

But her first career start came on Friday at Rider, and only because the team's second-leading scorer, senior guard Kanika Cummings, was kept out of the contest with a minor injury.

Booth responded with the best game, by far, of her career: 25 points (9-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-3 from three-point range) and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Clearly, it was a night for "breakout" performances.


speedboy said...

2498936Dear Hoops Scribe could you talk about the players who START for teams men and women who produce the most But average the least minutes. The glue players ! What do the stats say.

Steve Amedio said...

I'm always trying to find those players ...
Good suggestion. Maybe, at some point, I'll just come up with an "All Glue Players'" team. As you said, players who start and contribute in ways beyond their stats.
Keep an eye out for that.