Longhorns spotlight: Kathleen Nash
Feb. 18, 2009
Rafiq el Arculli, Texas Media Relations
Growing pains are commonly seen in the wide world of sports, and so often that the term "sophomore slump" has been aptly coined for any second-year player who is underachieving in comparison to their freshman season.
Make sure you don't tell that to sophomore guard Kathleen Nash.
After spending the majority of her freshman year coming off the bench for the Longhorns, Nash has since emerged as one of the primary scoring and rebounding threats for the team.
"Being a freshman, it was okay being a role player, but as I get older, I want to improve my game," Nash said. "I'm happy with the progress I've made so far."
Last year, Nash led all the freshmen on the team by averaging 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest, while also connecting on 84 percent of her free throws. So far this season, she has already surpassed herself on all three of those totals. With six regular-season games remaining, Nash is averaging 13.4 points and leads the team in rebounding by pulling down 6.6 boards per game. She has also connected on 38 percent of her three-pointers and 86 percent of her free throws.
"I think I'm a lot more confident this year," said a smiling Nash. "Last year, I was the role player and I would just go in there and shoot threes. But this year, I actually feel like I have to make more of an impact for our team. I had to step up, especially in rebounding."
Some may wonder how a 6-foot-2 sophomore playing the guard position can possibly lead the team in rebounding. For Nash, it was all about having a dedicated and strong work ethic that she instilled in herself throughout the summer and preseason workouts.
"This summer, we didn't play as much on the court," Nash explained. "I think we actually ran less and lifted more in the weight room, and that made me stronger. We worked a lot in the weight room."
"I focused on getting stronger this summer so I wouldn't get pushed around as much. I think the strength I've added has definitely helped my rebounding."
However, Nash was not alone in trying to improve her rebounding ability. Punishments from Coach Goestenkors during practice also helped.
"We have to box out while we scrimmage or else we have to run, and that really teaches you to crash the boards hard," commented Nash. "We work on rebounding so much in practice that it's really not anything I do alone."
Having a knack for rebounding came early for the younger Nash sister. During her high school years, she would spend hours after school shooting and practicing in the gym with her older sister and fellow Longhorn teammate, Kristen. The countless hours spent after dark was extra time and effort put forth by the sisters, as their high school squad used the morning hours to hold practice.
"Kristen and I would go to the gym every night to shoot and I'd rebound for her," Nash said. "We probably shot over 200 attempts each night, so just being able to see where the ball goes is a big part of learning how to rebound well."
At the beginning of the season, Nash had flown under the radar for most opposing squads, as other teams have mainly focused their attention on stopping leading scorer Brittainey Raven and fellow sharp-shooter Erika Arriaran. Nevertheless, being somewhat unnoticed has only worked in the favor of Nash.
"Coming into this year, I don't think anybody expected me to be a huge scorer," stated Nash. "They might have expected me to play the same role as I did last year. When they are putting their attention on Brittainey and those other players, it leaves me open a lot more."
However, as a consequence of adopting a larger role, players are expected to perform more leader-like actions on the court, whether it is during practice or during a game. Leaders are expected to carry a team in times of need and be more vocal on the court, and for Nash, the latter was the more difficult aspect to transition into.
"Coach G told me that I needed to talk more," explained Nash. "She was saying that I know the right things to say, so I needed to speak my mind more. It's kind of outside myself because I'm usually pretty quiet off the court. It's something that I had to think about, but the coaches were always telling me to talk more. So I just started catching on."
For Nash, having another year under her belt to get acquainted with her teammates definitely helped with the vocal aspect.
"I think as a freshman, it's kind of hard to be vocal because you don't know the players as well, but now, I'm comfortable with everybody, so I don't mind," said Nash.
If you had told the sophomore guard at the beginning of the year that she would be playing such an important role at this point in the season, she probably wouldn't have believed you.
"I was definitely not expecting to be in this role," said a humble Nash. "I think if other teams are putting so much pressure on Brittainey, then I have to step up and play this role. In high school, I was never a big basketball player at all, so I think coming into college, I didn't really know what to expect. It surprised me even last year that I had the role I did."
But even after it is all said and done, what matters most for Nash is just to enjoy the moment and to let things happen naturally.
"This year, it wasn't tough to step into a bigger role," stated Nash. "I would say that it just kind of happened and you have to deal with it."
"But the main thing is -- you have to enjoy it."