Dec. 8, 2003
Freshmen aren't supposed to play. But don't tell that to the Old Dominion's Tish Lyons, Sherida Triggs, Shantel Wilson, and Angela Brown. The freshmen foursome is not only playing big minutes for the Lady Monarchs this season, they are also playing well.
During the Lady Monarchs' Colorado tour, Brown and Wilson started their first ever game against Colorado at the WBCA Classic. Brown, a center, recorded 4 points on 2 of 4 shooting and grabbed three boards in 21 minutes. Wilson, a redshirt guard, also had a solid outing, scoring 7 points and dishing out 4 assists in 17 minutes. Triggs came off the bench to grab a team-high 9 rebounds in 28 minutes.
The trio responded well in the next game against Auburn. Triggs earned the first start of her career and grabbed eight more boards in 28 minutes. Wilson and Brown also added 11 minutes and 14 minutes respectively.
Against William and Mary, Triggs, a forward, earned her second start and played 24 minutes, helping ODU to it's first win of the season, a 75-58 victory over the Colonial Athletic Association foe in Williamsburg.
However, the freshman who is arguably making the biggest impact is Tish Lyons.
The 5-10 forward from Newport News has stepped up big in big games for the Lady Monarchs this season. After sitting out the first three games with a hand injury, Lyons showed why good things come to those who wait.
Lyons, recorded 5 points and 5 rebounds in 28 minutes en route to being named Player of the Game in the Lady Monarchs' 75-68 upset over no. 8 Penn State. The next game, Lyons added 8 points and 5 rebounds in a 75-61 win over a tough Charlotte squad.
Sunday, Lyons scored eight points, including a clutch jumper to seal the victory over no. 12 North Carolina.
With Lyons, the Lady Monarchs are 3-1, with the only loss coming to undefeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. They are holding opponents to an average of 68 points per contest, while scoring an average of 74 points.
Without Lyons, ODU is 1-2, averaging 63 points per game while giving up an average of 75 points.
After four solid performances, Lyons feels comfortable with her role on the team.
"I think I'm valuable, but I don't know if I'm that valuable," she said.
"I bring intensity and a defensive presence," she continued. "Every team needs a spark off the bench, and that's me right now. I'm enjoying my role."
Lyons is enjoying her role while making the transition from high school to college. While attending Woodside High School in Newport News, the freshman forward helped lead her team to three consecutive East Regional Semi Finals. Lyons was also the only male or female basketball player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
In her first game against Penn State, Lyons was surprised that she played 28 minutes and a big role in the win.
"I really wasn't expecting to play that much, especially since it was the first game back from my injury," she said. "But I had to wear off that surprise feeling because I had to go out there and play."
"I just wanted to gradually work myself into the rotation," Lyons continued. "I really wanted to play, especially at a school with so much tradition and history, in Old Dominion. I guess it's good that I'm playing."
Playing your first ever game against a team like Penn State could be intimidating for a freshman, but not for Lyons. Lyons gives credit to her coaching staff and natural ability to compete with the much more challenging college players.
"Our coaches do a great job putting together scouting reports," she said. "We know what every player tendencies are, how we can stop them, and how we can control the game."
"Penn State is a pretty good team," she continued. "I was expecting it to be pretty physical. I'm a very strong person myself, so it was shocking to me that they weren't as strong as I'd thought."
Lyons goal is to win CAA Rookie of the Year, but she won't let her individual goal interfere with the team's quest for a 13th consecutive CAA title.
"I want us to win the CAA again and advance to the NCAA Tournament," she said. "I was here at the (NCAA Tournament) last season when we lost to Boston College in the first round, and it was a heart breaker. I wasn't even playing and I felt for the girls."
Although a freshman, Lyons knows that hard work and preparation are keys for the Lady Monarchs' success."
"We have a good team and we've beaten some great teams. If we listen to our coaches and play hard, we will be tough to beat. The sky's the limit for us."