Longhorns spotlight: Kristen Nash
Feb. 27, 2009
Candice Eng, Texas Media Relations
Kristen Nash didn’t sign up to be a football player, but sometimes that’s what she feels like.
The Texas women’s basketball team prides itself on heart and hustle, and, to emphasize that point, the Longhorns often use blocking dummies and football padding to bump around the post players when they’re leaping for rebounds in practice.
The bumps and bruises are paying off for Nash. Even though this season isn’t even over, she has already surpassed her total offensive and defensive rebounds from last season. Nash credits her improvement to the physicality she endures every day on her own practice court.
“Mainly, it comes down to the coaches helping me with my defense, where to be and when to be there,” said Nash, a junior.
Assistant coach Mickie DeMoss, who works with the post players, explains that the Longhorns use football equipment in practice to help the players “get tougher,” and that’s one area where Nash has always shined.
“You have to have great effort to pursue the ball, and I think Kristen does that,” DeMoss said. “That’s what defense and rebounding is -- it’s a lot of heart and a lot of effort.”
Nash is coming off the bench to average 3.2 rebounds a game. Every time her name is called, she’s thinking of just two things.
“When I go in, it’s to play hard and defend well,” Nash said. “I want to make sure and box out my player because if you don’t someone else can get your rebound.”
That effort has made an impression on the coaches, and has made Nash a go-to player in certain situations this season. In the final six minutes of UT’s critical 58-55 road upset victory against Baylor on Feb. 1, Nash secured back-to-back rebounds, which Erika Arriaran and Carla Cortijo then converted into baskets on UT’s ensuing possessions.
And Nash also scored in the paint to give UT a four-point lead with just more than a minute to play.
“If we’re not rebounding well, she can usually go in and grab some rebounds for us,” DeMoss said. “If we’re not playing with a lot of energy, she’s that high-energy kind of player we need.”
Nash, a 6-foot-3 forward, knows that rebounds are as critical to head coach Gail Goestenkors as victories. Win or lose, Goestenkors always wants the Longhorns to out-rebound their opponent.
“We’re seeing down the road,” DeMoss said. “If you’re going to beat really good teams, you have to be consistent on the boards.”
Which is exactly what Nash is, and that’s a welcome change from last season -- her first active one with the Longhorns after sitting out in 2007 with a foot injury. Nash said she felt like she was making up for lost time all of last year.
“My main thing was I struggled with the plays,” Nash said. “But it was something I had to do if I wanted to play, so my main focus was just to work.”
And that’s also the focus for all the Longhorns right now, as they finish up conference play and look forward to appearances in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
“We’re focusing on every game, one game at a time,” Nash said. “Personally, I’m just focused on when I go in that I rebound and play defense, because that’s my role this year.”