Size doesn’t matter
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011 23:02
She may not even come up to the shoulders of most Division I women's basketball players, but CAA opponents have found that handling UNCW freshman point guard Alisha Andrews is one tall task.
Andrews has started all 20 games this season for the Seahawks and has created havoc for opposing teams on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, despite being the smallest player in the CAA at 4 foot 11 inches tall, according to her and first-year UNCW head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Andrews' perimeter shooting ability, along with her quickness and deceptiveness on the court have helped lead the Seahawks to a 16-4 (8-1 CAA) record and a three-way tie for first place in the conference.
"Alisha is just a ball of dynamite," said Cooper-Dyke. "She gets that ball and she is gone; she's off to the races. She runs the offense in the half-court, she runs our fast break and she commands our defense. She pretty much does it all."
Andrews, an Atlanta native, came out of Redan High School as the 31st ranked point guard prospect in the nation and second-best point guard in the state of Georgia according to ESPN.com. She led the Lady Raiders to 58 straight wins between her junior and senior seasons, including a state championship at the conclusion of her junior year. They lost in the state championship game the following year after a second consecutive undefeated season. Andrews also played softball for Redan.
Cooper-Dyke originally recruited Andrews to play for her at Prairie View A&M. However, once she made the move to UNCW in May, Andrews made the decision to get a release from Prairie View and follow her to Wilmington.
UNCW's media guide has Andrews listed as 5 foot 4 inches tall, a generous offering to say the least. However, Andrews' lack of size doesn't bother her. In fact, she finds it to be an advantage at times.
"I'm quicker, and I can get around people easier. I can see the whole floor and get it to the open player," said Andrews. "On defense, I'm able to take the ball from people that are taller than me."
Andrews is averaging 9.1 points per game and leads the team with 4.8 assists per game. She is dangerous from outside, shooting 41 percent on the year from the three-point line. She also leads the team in steals by a wide margin, totaling 61 so far this season.
"She passes the ball well, she can knock down the three-pointer and at the same time she's so small it's almost like she's sneaking around, stealing the ball from other opponents and they don't even know she's there," said Cooper-Dyke. "Alisha is everything. She is essential to everything we do."
Andrews had her first career double-double on Jan. 23 at Northeastern with 11 points and 10 assists. It was the first double-double by way of points and assists achieved by a UNCW women's player since 1990.
"When someone has a double-double, that means not only are they good, but they're making the players around them better," said Cooper-Dyke. "And that's what I love about Alisha. Not only can she score, but she makes the players around her better."
Andrews has been awarded CAA Rookie-of-the-Week honors three times this season, an accomplishment she is proud of, but is in no way satisfied with. The freshman has lofty goals for herself and the team during the rest of her Seahawk career.
"I want to break the assists record [at UNCW] and get Rookie-of-the-Year this year," said Andrews. "I want my team to win the CAA and go to the national championship. We have the potential."
Andrews has had limited incidents involving heckling by opposing fans. However, she did recall one memorable jab at her height in a game earlier this year against VCU, where someone shouted from the stands that she was a "middle-school person on a college team." But, in all fairness, Andrews did stop growing in the eighth grade.
Learning to deal with adversity and how to rise to a challenge is something Andrews has been used to doing her entire life. Her size often dictates the way she plays, but it has never hindered her success and has only aided her confidence. Even given the opportunity to gain a couple more inches, Andrews strongly opposed the idea of trading in who she is for anything.
"I'm perfect," said Andrews. "I love my height."