Tennessee sophomore leads series of clinics after a busy summer with Team USA
Take one look at Nicky Anosike's resume these days and you couldn't blame her if she wanted to take some down time in the month of August.
When you're a member of perennial powerhouse University of Tennessee women's basketball team and recently completed a trip to Tunis, Tunisia after competing for gold medal-winning Team USA at the under-19 World Championships, a break would appear necessary.
Except Anosike wouldn't hear of it. Instead, the former St. Peter's star has decided to spend time sharing her experiences and teaching the game she loves to youngsters at the PAL Beacon Center-sponsored clinic at Staten Island Tech in New Dorp.
The 6-foot-4 Anosike held the second of her five sessions, dubbed Nicky's Project, yesterday, first for girls 13-and-under and later 16-and-under. Now 19, Anosike demonstrated drills, then observed from midcourt with a stopwatch in hand.
"A lot of people on Staten Island helped me get to where I am today," said Anosike, who averaged 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in eight games at the World Championships. "I figured I'd come back and help out as much as I can.
"The PAL Diamonds were the first (team) I ever played competitive ball for and I just thought there was no better way to give back."
PAL borough director Joseph Loughran and Beacon director Tom Marshall couldn't be happier to have the two-time Jaques Award winner on their staff.
"Role model is an over used term, but Nicky fits under that category in its true meaning," said Loughran. "Not only does she have a great work ethic, but she's in high standing academically and she shares it with the children of the Beacon Center."
"The girls are very much into listening to Nicky," added Marshall. "She walks around focusing on each kid and she takes the time to teach them when they make mistakes.
"She's doing a terrific job."
Anosike, who will be a sophomore at Tennessee in the fall, said her experience with the Lady Vols has had a direct impact on the clinic.
"Every drill we do here we do at Tennessee," said Anosike, who currently resides in East Orange, N.J., when she's not at school. "(Tennessee assistant coach) Dean Lockwood gave me a lot of ideas and we've been using drills that I do.
"These kids are young and we want them to be alert and involved."
As successful as Anosike was at St. Peter's, the four-time Advance All Star had to do some learning herself upon joining the Lady Vols last fall. But not only did she wind up averaging 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Final Four participants, she started the final 21 games.
"By the middle of last season, the (coaching staff) considered me a sophomore, which is great," Anosike said. "But last year, my role was more of being a defensive stopper.
"Now I'm looking to be in more of a scoring-type role this season. I had a meeting with coach (Pat Summitt) and I told her I wanted more of a responsibility.
"She said she trusted me."
Anosike said her experience with Team USA, which was like a college all-star team, will help her prepare herself for next season.
"It was a great experience," she said. "I was motivated because I got cut when I tried out the year before.
"I think the biggest thing was I had more confidence, especially after playing one season of collegiate ball. Playing in the Final Four definitely helped me get ready to play (for Team USA)."
Speaking of the Final Four, Anosike said she's planning on using last year's disappointing finish (a loss to upstart Michigan St. in the semifinals) as a springboard to a strong 2005-05 campaign. In addition to Anosike, the Lady Vols are returning several other key players and will likely make another run for Summitt's seventh national title.
"We've got to finish what we started last season," said the former Parade All-American and Southeast Conference All-Freshmen team member last year. "We let it slip away by looking past Michigan St.
"But no doubt about it. Our goal this season is a national championship and I think we have the team to do it."