ALBRIGHT: George Washington’s Kalissa Lacy going to be more dangerous in 2021
George Washington’s reigning Mary Ostrowski Award winner Kalissa Lacy’s competitive juices are always flowing.
At least start with the obvious.
Lacy improved her game against highly talented teams with the AAU West Virginia Thunder. She pushed herself to the breaking point against other Division I talents, giving her additional upgrades to an already well-rounded game over the summer.
How much better did she get?
Enough to where it was noticeable.
And while her improvements unfolded in an impressive display of drives to the basket, step back 3s, and tough defense, it all reveals a frightening proposition for many teams in Class AAAA to deal with. Lacy’s about to be a lot more dangerous on the W.Va. hardwood.
When the games start to matter, the Patriots turn to a nuclear option. Basically, everything opposing coaches thought they knew about Lacy is going out the door. Her additions are that significant.
On the surface, it seems unfathomable. Lacy is already unquestionably the Patriots’ top player. She scores over 20 points per game and the offense generally runs through her.
Although her job is primarily as a scorer and her stats are tabulated like anyone else’s, her responsibilities will be much broader. “She’s going to have to show versatility in her game. Score at the rim, off the bounce, defend the ball and draw the opposing teams best offensive player,” said GW head man Jamie LeMaster.
Lacy’s other priorities? To make sure her teammates see everything and not just the offensive production.
On top of her scoring, this is her chance to impart all her basketball knowledge on a young team. Five of the Patriots’ new top eight players spent a little time on the varsity hardwood or they come from the middle school ranks.
“There are times you are going to see three freshmen, if they don’t start, playing big minutes,” GW head coach LeMaster said.
Does this mean spectators should expect to hear Lacy barking at teammates after every little slip up?
To carry that burden is a significant undertaking. She’s not just expected to share the tools that helped her get to Morehead State.
Teammate Vivian Ho and her also are charged with rallying the same group of relative strangers, who had been tight in fall ball and the first four practices before the COVID-19 shutdown, into a motivated unit, eager to outwork their opponents over the length of whatever season they get.
And in crunch time circumstances, LeMaster won’t just task Lacy with creating offense. He’ll look for her to create shots for other players and act as a decoy. “She has to find that balance on when it is time to take over a game. Don’t force things and do just do what she does,” he said.
Lacy’s already staked her claim. She sounds extremely confident in her abilities. And that’s good for everyone involved with the team, it’s put them all on high alert.
“I think the biggest thing is just being a leader off the court. Texting a teammate and getting some work and doing the things that other people don’t,” she said. “I definitely need to make sure our team chemistry is up and where it should be. Teammates see me as more of a role model and a leader and I can’t let it get to me.”
Thankfully, she’s not being asked to do all of this as a sophomore coming off a killer season. It is one thing to be a leader when you aren’t older than many of the other girls on successful teams. It’s another to walk into a team whose young and somewhat bright-eyed, and lay down a level of expectation and authority.
But, much of the Patriots’ plans center around her ability to handle those leadership reigns from Day 1.
Because LeMaster and Lacy made it clear this year’s Patriots are about something unfamiliar. The first buzzwords this time around weren’t predicated on veteran experience, or getting back to the MSAC Night of Champions.
No, this group wants to go to the state tournament. A goal that relies on team synergy, where most wins are generated beyond individual achievement.
Given what Lacy brings to the floor, the Patriots are off to a good start.
“This year she can be a complete player and not just a scorer,” LeMaster said.
Someone call Kenny Loggins.
Lacy’s on her way to the Danger Zone.
Contact Joe Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.