Richardson sparks LHS girls
Keith Andrews knows you can't judge Monique Richardson's value to the Lansing High girls' basketball team based on her statistics alone.
Andrews, the first-year LHS coach, said his senior point guard was the little engine that made the Lions go.
One night Richardson might have eight assists and seven points. On another, such as during Friday's 53-43 win against Basehor, she'll have 10 rebounds.
"I guess I got lucky that they were coming to me," Richardson chuckled after her 10-board, six-point effort against the Bobcats.
No, Andrews argued. It had nothing to do with luck. It's about work ethic and heart.
"She's got a knack for the ball and got a little fire in her," he said. "She's not going to back down from anybody."
It's Richardson's attitude that seems to define the LHS girls. As the point guard, it's her job to be the floor general, and there's no question her personality has rubbed off on her teammates.
You see a little bit of Richardson in junior forward Amanda Radovich when she pumps her fists in the air after a basket late in the game. You see her in sophomore Riann Deere as she screams encouragement from the sideline or hugs a teammate after making a big defensive play. You see her in Katie Nietzke, Richardson's protege at point guard, when Nietzke smothers an opponent with her defense or flicks a pass that catches a teammate in stride for a layup.
"She's been such a good leader to our team," Nietzke said. "She's been a big part of it. I don't know what I'd do without her. I'd be lost out there without her."
Nietzke, a freshman on the varsity team, said Richardson made the effort to take her under her wing and helped her deal with the pressure of playing at the varsity level.
"She helps me to realize when to settle down and so I don't throw the ball away," Nietzke said. "She helps me settle myself down and not get so worked up because I'm a freshman. I'm going to miss her next year. She's been a lot of help."
Andrews has praised Richardson's leadership for a variety of things. Whether it was organizing pick-up games during winter break to make sure the team stayed sharp or starting a fast break after making a steal, Andrews said the Lions have been able to count on Richardson.
"Her biggest contributions are defense, running the offense and handling the ball, and she's doing that great," he said. "The shot will come and go, but the defense and handling the ball has got to always be there."
Although she distributes the ball effectively, Andrews said Richardson's stats are not an accurate measure of what she brings to the floor. Her primary role as Lansing's point guard is to break the opponent's press.
Richardson isn't always credited with the assists, but she often makes the pass that leads to the assist. It's that court vision that Andrews said has allowed the Lions to play an up-tempo style this year.
"She's in the open court so much that she's going to have a few more turnovers, but I don't really worry about that," he said. "She does a good job of picking out who to pass the ball to. She's getting past that first level of press and getting it to the open person. She's got to break the first level, so she's doing what she's supposed to be doing for us, and she's enjoying the heck out of it."
Lansing next plays at 6 p.m. Friday at Mill Valley, a team LHS defeated 53-41 on Dec. 17. Richardson scored a season-high 14 points that game.
"She had a good game shooting against Mill Valley, so she's been worried about (doing that again), but she'll be OK," Andrews said. "She's doing a great job for us and leading us. That's what we need from our seniors, and all of our seniors have been doing a good job for us."