NU senior Heckuva role player
Molly Heck’s steals per game average would be the envy of any guard.
And yet, she is a post player.
The Nevada Union senior is not a flashy player, nor a prodigious scorer, but for people who understand the game of basketball, she is the type of player that often does the little things that make a big difference with a game on the line.
She is the Lady Miners’ secret weapon.
And yet, she almost didn’t go out for basketball this season.
“Basketball purists can watch us play, and over a period of time, they’ll discover how valuable she is,” NU coach Craig Strohm said. “But to a coaching staff in pursuit of a championship, she doesn’t get overlooked. She is a great kid to have on your team.”
After starting both her freshman and sophomore years, Heck, like many of this year’s teammates, saw a drastic reduction in playing time last year on a team loaded with seniors. While Heck understood and accepted her place on the bench, she felt her skills were eroding, especially in the latter part of the season.
She was not sure if basketball was in her future.
“I lost some confidence,” Heck said. “I talked to coach Strohm (in April) and told him I didn’t think I would be playing next season. He said if I changed my mind, I could come back, even if I didn’t play summer league.”
Heck did change her mind, just two weeks later. And she did play in summer league, going to tournaments in Chico and South Lake Tahoe. It was the relaxed atmosphere of those tournaments that coaxed Heck to stay with a sport she loves.
She is glad she did, and so are the Miners. This year, Heck is averaging better than eight points and three steals per contest. She was named all-tournament earlier this season in the Golden Valley Classic and the West Coast Jamboree.
Heck has a knack for playing her best basketball late in contests, with games on the line. And she always finds away to get her hands on the ball as part of NU’s pressure defense.
“Defense is my favorite thing in the entire world,” Heck said. “It is kind of a rush. It is exciting to be able to steal the ball or create a turnover.”
Heck gives much of the credit to the front line players of NU’s trapping press, who often force opponents into bad passes as they frantically try to get the ball upcourt.
“She just reads the ball in the passing lanes so well,” Strohm said after Saturday’s win against Sacramento, in which Heck had a handful of steals. “She is so fast to rotate. She is so unselfish. She primarily comes off the bench, and really gives us a jump start with the second group I use.”
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