RedStorm hoopsters among the NAIA's top players
Rio Grande --- Two members of the University of Rio Grande RedStorm women's basketball team are among the NAIA leaders in a number of statistical categories at this stage of the season. The two players, seniors Jenna Smith and Bre Davis have been key components to the early season success of the program.
Smith, a 5'8" sharpshooting guard from Bellefontaine, OH, is tops in the Mid-South Conference and the NAIA in made 3-pointers (66), made 3-pointers per game (4.1) and free-throw percentage (.909). Rio Grande is no stranger to having the top free-throw shooter in the nation as both men's and women's programs held that distinction last year with P.J. Rase leading the men and Leah Kendro the women.
"Jenna Smith is one of the best players overall that I've ever had in this program," said Rio Grande head coach David Smalley. "She has really come into her senior season on a mission and it shows every day in a game situation."
"She's logging a lot of minutes, but has the ability and the stamina to do that," Smalley added. "As a result of her intense efforts on the court, she's leading the NAIA and the Mid-South in made three-pointers, made three-pointers per game also and is first in free-throw percentage in the country."
Smalley points out that Smith is the player with the target on her back as the one the opposition tries to key on. "Jen is the type of player, most teams are going to key on and have been successful in the first half of some games, where they've held Jen in check to where she hasn't scored, but then she'll come out in the second half of that same game and knock down 18 or 20 points," Smalley said. "That's a credit to her and her focus and her ability to stay on task and not get frustrated."
"She is a pure shooter, can get on a roll and hit four or five in a row, she can take it to the glass, she's not physical, but she takes a lot of pounding," Smalley added. "When teams run her off the three-point line, she has the ability to get to the free-throw line as her records indicate. She's just been a tremendous asset to this program, a senior, a captain, a tremendous student and we're extremely proud of Jen for the statistical categories that she's leading and we certainly expect and hope that will continue the second half of the season."
Smith is having a banner senior campaign, having already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career. She earned MSC Player of the Week honors during the first week of the season, the first-ever for Rio Grande women's basketball in the MSC. She currently leads the Rio squad in scoring at 19.6 points per game. Her scoring average currently places her third in the MSC while the 314 points she has accumulated this season ranks 2nd in the conference and fifth nationally.
Davis, a 5'2" point guard, is ranked in the top five nationally in assists at No. 4 with 88. She is currently second in the MSC in assists per game at 5.5. Davis came into the 2010-11 campaign off her best season as a collegian last year and has picked up where she left off in 2009-10.
"Bre is one of the hardest people to guard, I've had other coaches tell me that their concern about Bre is, you can't contain her in the open court," Smalley said. "She has the innate ability to see and get the ball to the open player which allows her to collect those assists."
"She does that extremely well, sees the floor, gets the ball to the open player and that's why the Jenna Smith's and the Leah Kendro's and the Kaylee Helton's are able to do what they do really well, because of Bre Davis," Smalley added. "Bre's speed and quickness is really hard for the opposition to counter and when Bre is on and having a great game, there's nobody that can stop her and there's nobody in our conference that's any better than her."
"We're excited and proud and happy for Bre."
Smith, Davis and Co. will be back on the court attempting to stop a two-game losing skid on Thursday at Pikeville College. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Be sure to follow the game on Stretch Internet and iHigh.com beginning at 5:55 p.m.
Rio Grande is currently 11-5 overall and 2-3 in the MSC. The RedStorm received one vote in the most recent NAIA Top 25 rating.