Johnson's switch to post has fueled NDSU's strong start
North Dakota State forward Lacey Johnson not only switched positions this year. She had to brace herself for basketball war. A 6-foot forward last year who played mostly on the perimeter, she moved inside where most of the residents are in the 6-...
North Dakota State forward Lacey Johnson not only switched positions this year. She had to brace herself for basketball war.
A 6-foot forward last year who played mostly on the perimeter, she moved inside where most of the residents are in the 6-2 to 6-4 range. It's been a battle.
"There have been plenty of practices where I came away with bruises and achy bones," Johnson said.
After four games, Johnson has come away with impressive numbers: 10.2 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, 13 blocked shots and 9 steals. She didn't do it against patsy competition either; three of NDSU's opponents were nationally ranked.
"It's been a great start," Johnson said. "The one loss wasn't fun but it was a learning experience and a wakeup call."
NDSU, 3-1, beat No. 13 Bentley College (Mass.) and
No. 10 Western Washington. They were beaten by
No. 15 Seattle Pacific.
The Bison have their home opener tonight in the Valley Imports Classic. Western Oregon plays Northern State (S.D.) at 5:30 and NDSU hosts Chadron State (Neb.) at 7:30. The losers play at 5:30 Saturday and the winners at 7:30.
Johnson will start at one post spot, along with 6-4 sophomore Leah Klabo. The Bison can also bring in 6-2 senior Angela Mayo, 6-2 junior Michelle Fricke or 6-2 sophomore Jacklynn Oliver.
"We push each other around in practice," Mayo said. "It makes us better come game time."
Mayo said Johnson's quickness inside has been contagious.
"It's forced us to pick up our footwork and those kinds of skills," Mayo said.
The decision to move Johnson inside was made in the offseason. Johnson, a center in high school at Wessington Springs, S.D., said she approached Bison head coach Amy Ruley with the idea.
Ruley has had success with a versatile post in the mode of former
All-American Jayne Even.
The coach is still looking for consistency from Johnson, but the early returns are promising.
Johnson is also the team's unofficial emotional leader. One of her preseason goals, she said, was to get everybody involved in the game.
"She can't be flat on any given night," Ruley said.
Or in any given practice. That could be dangerous to her health.
"It helps me be more physical," Johnson said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546