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Young Jenkins shines among veterans

Published: Monday, January 14, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 23:01

 

With eight seniors and two juniors, the women’s basketball team isn’t short of veterans on the hardwood. But amid the experienced, one young player is making her presence known on the court — freshman forward Alisa Jenkins.

Coming from Statesboro High School from a small town in Georgia, Jenkins once referred to herself as a “scorer” — a dynamic of her game that has changed quite drastically since becoming a Bull.

“Where I came from I was a scorer, so I was the person that had to make the buckets, but now I don’t have to do that and I can focus on the little stuff,” she said.

But the little stuff has been what’s getting her noticed. 

Averaging 4.4 points per game, she is the fourth on team in rebounds with 5.1 per game and third in blocks with 12 on the season.

As her game slowly shifts from an offensive mindset to a defensive one, her transition from high school ball goes much deeper than her style of play on the court.

Becoming a part of the locker room as a young player is key to any sports team, and while Jenkins’ personality didn’t show at first, teammate and senior forward Tahira Johnson said once Jenkins broke out of her shell she became a key factor for the Bulls (11-4, 0-2) on and off the court.

“She has a great personality, she’s very vibrant.” Johnson said. “The first week she was quiet, but once we started getting into workouts she just livened up and I feel like her actions on the court helped her better in the locker room.”

Johnson said she would put Jenkins in the “Top 3” for goofiest players on the team. With her personality in the locker starting to show, Jenkins’ court presence started to show improvement.

“At first I felt like she didn’t think that she had a shot with this being a veteran team, but as practiced improved, she practiced harder, she defended better, and she rebounded better,” Johnson said. “She just opened up and realized she had nothing to lose so she played freely.” 

The experience for Jenkins as a freshman among seniors was overwhelming at first for the small town ball player
going to play in the Sun Dome.

“At first it was too much for me coming from a small town to this big school,” Jenkins said. “It was a big step for me, but over the week I
learned to get used to that and now I’m getting the hang of it as I go along.”  

Her teammates think she’s getting the hang of it quite nicely. 

Overall, including out-of-conference-play, USF stands as the No. 1
offensive rebounding team in the Big East, largely a testament to Jenkins’ presence, as she is the third best offensive rebounder for the Bulls, recording 30 on the season.

“My skills playing ball have improved a lot,” Jenkins said. “Instead of thinking so much on the court like I did in high school, making mistakes, I don’t have to think as much now and I can just act on
instinct.”

A benefit to having an abundance of upperclassmen is the advice passed down, which Jenkins said has undoubtedly had an effect on her season.

“The advice I’m getting is mostly on my defense,” Jenkins said “Each and every day I learn something new from them.”

With USF being one of six teams in the Big East without a win in the conference, after a close loss against Notre Dame and one at DePaul, the Bulls will look for a recovery in the conference. Jenkins said she feels the team has been preparing to work out the Bulls’ flaws, one being the defense.

Jenkins and the Bulls will get a chance to see if practice pays off as they get ready to tip off with Cincinnati (8-7, 0-2) tonight in the Sun Dome at 7 p.m. 

“I just need to come and do the little things and the little things to me is to box out and crash the boards,” Jenkins said.  “And that’s what I do.”

 

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