2 top freshmen leading NU women
My 6-year-old dryer is on the fritz. And, as luck would have it, I'm also having an issue with my 6-year-old microwave.
I had an appliance repairman at my house on Friday. He told me that you can count on getting only about six to eight years out of a dryer and a microwave. Even with some of the best brands.
He said, "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But, you know, they just don't make appliances like they used to."
No, apparently they don't. I'm pretty sure the washer and dryer my parents had when I was a kid lasted well beyond when I left for college.
That got me thinking… they sure don't make freshmen college athletes like they used to either. But unlike my appliance headache, that's a good thing for coaches and fans everywhere.
These days, everything from park district sports programs to AAU and club teams start kids playing and learning earlier and earlier. The end result is that high-level athletes are better-schooled, savvier and more skilled at a younger age than ever before.
That being the case, I guess we really shouldn't be surprised at what's going on with the Northwestern women's basketball team. But we can still be impressed.
The 5-1 Wildcats, who upset nationally ranked LSU in Baton Rouge before Thanksgiving and also won their Big Ten/ACC Challenge against North Carolina State Wednesday, are led by two freshmen guards who play nothing like the freshmen of the long-lasting appliance era.
Morgan Jones and Karly Roser didn't need a red-shirt year to get bigger, stronger and faster. They aren't riding the bench learning, transitioning and paying their dues.
That's what freshmen of 10, 20 and 30 years ago did.
Instead, Jones and Roser are playing 30-plus minutes a game for the Wildcats. And they are putting up numbers that would thrill most juniors and seniors.
Roser leads the team in assists and Jones is among the top scorers on the team.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised because I think both of us came in knowing what would be expected of us," Roser said. "I think we prepared well."
Roser, who grew up in Canada and made a national team in high school that competed in France, is a play-making machine. The point guard is averaging a whopping 8 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the nation and ties for the top mark in the Big Ten. She notched her second double-double against North Carolina State with 10 points and 10 assists and she piled up a season-high 13 assists in a victory over Illinois State last month.
Jones, a versatile 6-foot-2 shooting guard whose parents owned and coached an elite travel team in Florida during her formative years, is averaging nearly 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. She is coming off a 27-point outburst against N.C. State in which she drained 5 three-pointers. Against LSU, Jones calmly knocked down two free throws with 11 seconds left to ice a 44-43 win.
"Honestly, it's felt completely natural for us to be in this position," Jones said. "We both led our teams in high school, we were used to doing a lot and that just kind of transitioned over to Northwestern.
"One thing that has helped is that we have a coach who really believes in us. Coach (Joe McKeown) is always encouraging us, telling us he believes in us and giving us the green light. If you feel like your coach is putting reins on you, or if you feel like you can't make a mistake, you're not going to play very well and you're going to second-guess yourself, especially as a freshman."
Sometimes that still happens.
As good as they are, as savvy as they are, Roser and Jones admit they aren't completely void of freshman-isms.
"We have our moments," Roser laughed. "From turnovers to not always making the right decisions. Those are things I need to work on."
"For me, it's defense," Jones said. "In high school, you didn't really need to try very hard to make plays on defense. Every now and then, I find myself out of position or something like that. I'm working on my defense."
Scary thought: With time, Roser and Jones will be even better than they are now.
Wish I could say the same about my appliances.
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