December 24, 2012 10:26:17 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenn Schmidt recognized the possibilities.
But the veteran Starkville Academy girls basketball coach wanted to talk to rising seniors Tiffany Huddleston and Anna Lea Little to find out what they thought the addition of Maggie Proffitt could mean to the team.
Schmidt realized Huddleston and Little knew Proffitt, but she wasn't sure how two of the leaders from a team that won three titles last season would respond to a new player and to the adjustments everyone would have to make.
"Seniors are very important in what we try to do. We try to allow some leadership from seniors," Schmidt said. "I told the girls we had somebody who wanted to come play with us. They both looked at me and said, 'Coach, if it is Maggie Proffitt, she can play and we need her.' "
That mentality fits perfectly with a quote President Harry Truman and UCLA men's basketball coach John Wooden made famous: "It's amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit."
This past week, Proffitt showed she is fitting in just fine with her new teammates. The senior guard has 26 points in victories against Noxubee County and Provine on Friday and Saturday to help push Starkville Academy to 17-0.
For her accomplishments, Proffitt is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"Maggie loves to play," Schmidt said. "Maggie can score, she plays a good floor game, she wants to win. She is just a smooth, non-affected player."
Schmidt said the maturity of Huddleston, Little, and Proffitt and juniors Sallie Kate Richardson and Nora Kathryn Carroll, two other members of Starkville Academy's 2011-12 team that won district, Class AAA, and overall state championships, is a key reason why the Lady Volunteers are undefeated. She said the players know the only way they can win is to play unselfish basketball and to make one more pass or to set one more screen to help the team succeed.
The statistics from Starkville Academy's victories reflect that approach. While Proffitt paced the team in scoring in the past two games, Carroll (14 points), Richardson (13), and Huddleston (12) also scored in double figures, while Little added nine points and 10 rebounds against Provine. Little (14) and Carroll (13) also scored in double figures against Noxubee County.
The Lady Volunteers also combined for 37 assists and 29 steals in the two games.
Huddleston, a point guard, said Proffitt has helped fill the void left by the graduation of five seniors from the championship season. The versatility of the Lady Volunteers' core players allows them to spread the floor and to beat teams from 3-point range, inside, or with a motion offense predicated on sharing the basketball. That mentality carries over to the defensive end and allows Starkville Academy to anticipate passes and to disrupt an opponent's rhythm.
"Everybody feeds off everyone," Huddleston said. "That is a good thing."
Proffitt, a transfer from Columbus High, has enjoyed building chemistry with her new teammates. She started to get a feel for her new teammates in the summer in between trips with her Amateur Athletic Union team, the Kenner (La.) Angels. Schmidt said those first games gave everyone an idea of how the team could become the sum of its parts.
So far, Proffitt feels things are going very smoothly.
"It has been very easy," Proffitt said. "Everyone has been very accepting. I don't feel like there is any tension on the court, and that really makes a difference in how we're playing."
Proffitt said everyone on the team has a desire to win that supersedes individual concerns about who will lead the team in scoring or who will take the most shots. Proffitt said another concern is not messing up the team's perfect start to the season. She said she will continue to do anything she can to help the team pull a three-peat.
"I was really tired of being told all I could do was shoot the ball, so I wanted to try to expand my game and work on my defense and hustle all game and expand all aspects of my game," Proffitt said. "I have definitely improved on all my areas, but I still have a lot of work to do."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.