TERRE HAUTE —
Nicole Anderson isn’t afraid to think outside the box, and that could prove to be a good thing for coach Mike Allen and the Terre Haute North girls high school basketball season.
A typical senior who has already started for three seasons in one of the toughest conferences in the state might enter her senior year looking for a scholarship, polishing her legacy and hoping for an Indiana All-Star spot.
Instead, Anderson — who, in the interest of full disclosure, already has her college future lined up — is re-inventing her game, or at least her position, and happy to do so.
The 6-foot-1 Patriot will be signing a letter of intent shortly to go to Miami of Ohio on a basketball scholarship, and the Redhawks recruited a multi-talented player who was one of the best forwards in the state.
This year Anderson might be Indiana’s biggest female point guard.
“It was kind of by default,” Allen said this week when asked about the decision to move his best player. “Two point guards we thought were coming back are not here, so I approached Nicole about playing there. Just like everything else in her four years here, she accepted it willingly … like a challenge.”
“I kind of knew it was going to happen,” Anderson said. “I was ready to take on the challenge.”
The position switch will mean a lot of changes in her game, Anderson realizes, but she thinks they’ll be changes for the better.
“I won’t be down in the post as much as I was,” she said, “and I’ll be passing the ball a lot more. Morgan [Seeley, last year’s Patriot point guard] had the most assists last year, so I’m going to have to do more [passing].
“It’s going to help me in the long run,” continued Anderson, who averaged nearly a double-double last season (15.4 points, 9.4 rebounds per game, with more than two assists and two steals per contest too). “It will improve my ball handling a lot. I’m kind of excited for it really.”
“She’s done a great job. She stays after practice about every day to work on her ball handling on her own,” Allen said, “and it turns out she’s a very good passer. She sees the floor well.”
It’s all good, Anderson feels.
“If a guard is guarding me, I can get down in the post against her somehow,” she predicted, “and if someone big is guarding me, they’ll probably be slow and I’ll be able to go by them. Either way it’ll be a mismatch.”
On the other end of the court, Anderson will still be inside defensively and be able to help on the boards.
“She’ll probably have to guard somebody in the post,” Allen agreed. “Layne Curley will step in [and guard the other team’s point guard].”
The Patriots, 2-0 after opening with wins over Turkey Run and North Central, are one of the state’s tallest and longest teams with this lineup.
Anderson hasn’t needed to score much so far for the Patriots, who play Owen Valley at noon Saturday in a semifinal game of the Terre Haute Savings Bank Tip-Off Tournament, but is contributing in every way possible. Her averages so far are 8 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 5.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
“I think our starting five is really good,” Anderson said. “We have the potential to do a lot of good things.
“[Switching to point guard] was the best thing for our team, and I’m just trying to help the program out. It’s not for me, it’s for us as a whole.”
“That’s just the way Nicole is,” Allen said. “She’ll do whatever the team needs to be successful.”
Allen can only see one possible down side to Anderson being at point.
“If she starts passing too much,” the coach said with a smile, “we’ll have to inform her that she’ll have to be more selfish and look for her shot.”