KSU Seniors let their play do the talking

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Julie Studer and Carrie Nance are not your stereotypical sassy senior leaders.

You won't notice either of the Kent State women's basketball team's All-Mid-American Conference performers yelling at their younger teammates at practice or giving pep talks during battle. You'll never see either star jawing with foes, pleading with referees or talking back to coaches.

In fact, chances are you'll never see either player speak, period.

"They won't say two words in an entire day if they don't have to," said Golden Flashes coach Bob Lindsay.

Action not words, that's Studer and Nance.

Both players prefer to let their play speak for itself, and nothing they actually say could deliver a more meaningful message.

Studer, the conference's most feared presence in the paint, ranks second in the MAC in scoring (18.5) and rebounding (8.5) heading into tonight's MAC Tournament quarterfinal clash with Ohio. Nance (14.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.6 steals) uses her unmatched quickness to terrorize opponents on both ends of the floor like no other guard in the league.

Together, along with fellow seniors Liz Beggs and Lisa Wube, Nance and Studer led the Golden Flashes to their fourth consecutive MAC East Division title this winter by anchoring a rotation that included three true freshmen.

They did so by saying little, but producing a lot.

"We're not as vocal as the coaches would like us to be, but I think we're both more of the lead by example type," said the soft-spoken Studer, who has slowly learned to tolerate interviews over the past four years. "We knew we had to step it up as seniors this year and be more consistent."

"I've gotten better (at being vocal)," Nance added, with her distinctive shy smile. "The coaches can't complain too much. I think if something needs to be said, we say it."

Former Flashes like Amy Sherry, Ashley Bland, Anne Chicorelli and Dawn Zerman were blessed with a natural ability to lead, but that's simply not the case with Studer and Nance according to Lindsay.

"For them, leading is an ongoing challenge," said Lindsay. "But in our program, the seniors are always captains and they're expected to lead. I think they accepted that role and responded to it pretty well in their own way."

Leadership requires toughness, a trait Lindsay wasn't sure either Studer or Nance possessed when they arrived on campus in 1997. But they've passed the ongoing toughness test administered by their ever-demanding mentor with flying colors.

Studer has played 103 games over the past four seasons despite suffering through nagging foot injuries, which inflict much more pain than she cares to admit.

"I don't think much about it," said Studer. "I don't want anything to hold me back from playing. I can take care of my injuries after the year's over."

Studer's ability to play through her foot pain symbolizes her development as a player, from a soft 6-foot-4 freshman recruit to a hardened veteran widely considered the MAC's most physical post player.

"Studer had three things going for her when she came here. She was tall, she had a good shooting touch and she played in a good high school program (Lexington)," said Lindsay. "But a lot of people questioned how thick-skinned she'd be. That's one thing I'll give her credit for. We've demanded a lot out of her, and she's proved to be much more thick-skinned than people ever believed.

"Nance was in the same boat. She'd never heard her (Fremont High School) coaches say anything but that she was the best player in America before she came here. We demanded far more of her than ever before, and she struggled with that as a freshman. It's a tough adjustment, but that's what she had to overcome to be a better player."

Studer and Nance have developed as players and people while serving important roles on Kent State's last three teams, two of which advanced to the NCAA Tournament. But they've played their best basketball as seniors this winter, when the relatively youthful Flashes needed them most.

Studer has been a model of consistency for Kent State, producing double-figure points in 30 straight games. She's increased her scoring average over four points from last year (18.5) and, even more importantly to Studer herself, added three rebounds per game to her yearly average (8.5).

"That's the one thing I really focused on this year," said Studer, "rebounding."

Studer's numbers are even more impressive considering the fact that she plays just 25 minutes per game due mostly to her aching foot.

"No one in the MAC even comes close to matching Studer's production per minute," said Lindsay. "We'll never know what kind of numbers she would have put up without injuries. She's played through some tough times."

Nance had difficulty earning respect while playing beside Dawn Zerman, the best guard in Kent State's storied history, for the past three seasons. But Zerman's collegiate career came to a close last winter, giving Nance a chance to shine as a senior in 2000-01.

"Yeah, I've always sort of been in Dawn's shadow," said Nance. "I looked forward playing with new people this year, developing a new chemistry."

Nance has handled the spotlight well, posting career highs in nearly every statistical category despite playing alongside a promising yet unproven freshman point guard in Lori Krezeczowski.

"Nance always wanted to be someone we rely on to be a good player," said Lindsay. "This was her chance to step up, and she's done it for the most part."

Studer and Nance are quiet leaders off the court as well.

Studer, who became just the fifth Kent State player to earn Academic All-District IV honors this season, plans to attend massotherapy school after exploring potential pro basketball options. She's on pace to graduate in August.

Nance, a Kent State Athletic-Academic All-Star along with Studer, plans to work in a rehabilitation center for the mentally challenged after graduating in the spring of 2002.

But before their respective collegiate basketball careers come to a close, Studer and Nance hope to prove on the court that quiet leaders are capable leaders one last time by carrying Kent State to the MAC Tournament title.

"We're the seniors, so this is our team," said Nance. "We want to be remembered as seniors that played in the NCAA Tournament. That's our goal."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.