Posted Oct 25, 2007 15:37:53
Dowdell Readies for New Role
RUSTON – As a true freshman last year at Louisiana Tech, former Calera High School prep star Shanavia Dowdell spent the majority of her rookie campaign watching from the Lady Techster bench.
After averaging almost 25 points a game as a senior at Calera and earning 2006 Miss Basketball in the state of Alabama honors, Dowdell experienced what most true freshman do in their first year of college athletics – growing pains.
Dowdell was forced to sit for much of the year behind two three-year senior starters in Ty Moore and Tamika Kursh. However, when she did play, she showed signs of what head coach Chris Long hopes are things to come.
“She made the most of the minutes she played last year,” Long said. “Since last year was over, we’ve talked about how this year will be completely different for her. I think she understand her role will change, but I don’t know if she fully understands it yet. I think she’ll figure that out in the first couple of games.”
With the loss of all five seniors off last year’s Louisiana Tech team that posted a 17-13 mark and shared the Western Athletic Conference title, Long will be looking for a number of new players to step in to starting roles. Dowdell leads that list.
“I’m looking forward to (playing more this year),” Dowdell said. “I was used to playing a lot in high school. Last year I (didn’t play as much), and I got down a little.”
However, as tough as last season was for the 6-foot-2-inch forward, she knows it was probably what was best for her development.
“It helped,” Dowdell said of watching from the bench. “It allowed me to watch Tamika and Ty and see what they did on the floor. Now I know what I have to do to be successful.”
Despite her limited playing time, Dowdell’s talents were noticed by Long and the rest of the Western Athletic Conference coaches last year.
After averaging 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 29 games and shooting a team best 52 percent from the field in 2006-07, Dowdell was one of five players named to the WAC All-Freshman team. She was named preseason second team all-WAC just a few weeks ago, quite an honor for someone who has never started a college game.
“It was a big honor,” Long said. “However, it doesn’t surprise me. I think she is very capable of being on that same team at the end of the year. She will have to step up. There will be nights that she will be asked to do a lot for us. I think she can handle it.”
Dowdell, who is one of five former high school state players of the year on Louisiana Tech’s roster this season, knows that she has plenty to work on before the Nov. 20 opener at Western Kentucky.
“I’ve got to get myself in shape to play 30 minutes,” Dowdell said. “I know I have to get in better shape. My defense has to get better too. I’m making it way too easy for the other player to catch and score. I have to be a lot more aggressive on defense and stop them.”
Her head coach agrees with Dowdell’s critique of herself.
“Without question, Shanavia will be playing a lot more minutes,” Long said. “She has to be more active on defense and get herself in the right position. She’s got to constantly move on defense. You might be in good position when the ball is say on wing but as the ball moves, you have to explode around and get in position.”
One area Long is not concerned about is Dowdell’s ability to score, something she showed almost every time she stepped on the court as a freshman. Dowdell scored in 25 of the 29 games she saw action in last year, including a career-high 12 points in a win over Idaho on Feb. 17.
“She’s progressed offensively,” Long said. “She was already good offensively, but she has gotten better. She has a great ability to shoot the ball from 18, 19 feet and in, and yet she can put it on the floor and score as well. She has nice footwork on the block. She has a way of getting her shot off and she doesn’t miss very often. Shanavia can score in a lot of ways.”
When asked if she was setting goals for this season, Dowdell was quick to reply.
“I just want to win,” Dowdell said. “I’m not setting personal goals. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win.”