Lombardino adjusts to college life
Cassie Lombardino stood in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 1 and waited to get into the game.
She couldn’t remember ever being this nervous.
Kansas State University was pulling away from Washburn University during an exhibition game, and Lombardino was about to get in the game for Washburn.
“It was pretty crazy,” Lombardino said. “I was caught up in the fact that it was my first game and all. I really don’t remember when I was that nervous.”
Lombardino entered the contest, playing three minutes in Washburn’s 66-47 loss to K-State.
The game mirrored her season. Lombardino played sparingly off the bench for a total of 39 minutes in 14 games. She scored 12 points and said the college game was a major adjustment.
“It was different in that it was a more up-tempo, fast pace, more physical, more demanding game,” she said. “That was a big transition that I had to get used to.”
Lombardino graduated from Basehor-Linwood High School in 2008. She led BLHS to the Class 4A state tournament as a senior. Last summer, she played in numerous all-star games.
Since leaving for Washburn in the summer, she adjusted to a new system of play, a new position and a reduced role. She played sparingly as a reserve for the Lady Blues who concluded the season with a loss to Central Oklahoma in the second round of regional competition and were ranked in the top 25.
Lombardino said she entered the season not expecting it to be easy, and that made her transition easier.
“If I came in expecting a lot of playing time, and then had not played a lot, that would not have been good,” she said. “I did have a lot of fun. It was rough at times, but you expect it to be.”
The first practices were battles for her as 17 standout players from high schools and junior colleges took the practice court, vying for playing time and the chance to play for Washburn.
“It requires commitment and the playing is at a faster pace,” she said. “This year was a transition year. It is good to be around the team and see what it is about. Nothing is given to you. It doesn’t matter who you are. It is definitely a gut check to see what you are made of.”
Lombardino said she enjoyed her first season.
“I felt like it flew by, but it did last a long time,” she said. “I enjoyed it and I feel like I learned a lot. It didn’t creep by. People said it would get old and I would be ready for it to be over, but really it wasn’t bad at all.”
Lombardino is focused on next season and earning more playing time. Washburn loses six seniors, and Lombardino could play more next season. She plans to meet with Washburn’s coach to determine how to prepare for next season.
“I just have got to see where he wants me to play,” she said. “They are talking about trying me as a post instead of a four. A four is like a guard in this offense. That was weird. I never played guard before. I have to see where he is going to try me next year, to know what to work on. I need to get stronger.”