November 28, 2010 1:24:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- Katia May always thought she was patient and a good communicator.
But sometimes even the best talkers need time to make the adjustment from high school to college basketball.
Consider, too, May has had to learn a new group of teammates, a new offense, and is dealing with longer and leaner defenders and it''s easy to see why the Mississippi State point guard feels she needs to settle down and be more patient.
"It is a huge adjustment," May said. "I did think I was vocal in high school, but coming here it seems like I am quiet or not loud enough."
May will continue her maturation at 2 p.m. today when the MSU women''s basketball team (2-1) plays host to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (0-3) at Humphrey Coliseum.
May, a 5-foot-2 freshman, was an All-State performer out of Sumter County High School in York, Ala. She led her team to a Class 3A state title while averaging 19.8 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 rebounds.
Through three games at MSU, May is averaging 5.7 points in 17 minutes. She has four assists, seven turnovers, and two steals, and figures to remain a key ingredient in a backcourt mix that includes senior Mary Kathryn Govero, juniors Diamber Johnson and Porsha Porter and freshman Brittany Young. Sophomore guard Darriel Gaynor isn''t 100 percent and has yet to play in a game.
May said she has been surprised to get so much playing time, but she is the only other healthy true point guard on the roster. Her time at point guard has allowed Johnson, one of the team''s most experienced returning players, to move to the wing, which could free her up to create more offense.
May said she doesn''t mind where she plays or what role she will play. Her biggest concern is adjusting to the speed of the game and understanding how to communicate better -- and louder -- and to read defenses and to make sure all of her teammates are in the right positions.
May said juggling all of those things quickly is a change because she really didn''t run plays in high school. Now, though, MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis expects her to be a "general" who is in charge and directing traffic efficiently when she has the basketball.
"Katia is learning," Fanning-Otis said. "Two things other than time and experience with Katia is her first step defensively and containing people better and not allowing them to go to the rim. The other thing is knowing what to run and communicating with the team so she puts people in the right place at the right time. She has to get them when they need to be."
Fanning-Otis said May is improving every day and becoming more and more confident. She has shown an ability to penetrate and get to the rim, a la former All-Southeastern Conference performer Alexis Rack. But she is quick to point out she has a lot to learn, and that it will come with being more patient.
Against South Alabama, May had the ball at the top of the key and made a quick delivery to forward Ashley Brown on the low block. Brown, though, wasn''t anticipating the pass and it went for a turnover.
"It is pretty much me," May said. "I just have to talk louder in what I do and give as many signals for the plays we''re running."
Fanning-Otis said May will continue to see key minutes because she makes the team quicker. She said May will need to improve her left hand because she anticipates opponents will try to trap her as much as possible to use her height against her.
In time, though, Fanning-Otis knows May will mature into an even bigger role.
"She will get it," Fanning-Otis said. "She is tough. She is working hard and listening. I expect a tremendous amount of progress. I think she will be able to help us a lot and help us find ways to win ballgames."
May hopes that is the case, too. She said she feels like she is rushing but believes she will find her comfort zone as she sees more playing time and adjusts to the speed of the game.
"I am still trying to adjust to what I can do and what I can''t do," May said. "My goal this year is to make better decisions and let the game come to me and let me play off what I have and being more patient."
NOTES: Senior forward Jasmine Abrams, of Columbus, leads Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Abrams is scoring 16.3 points a game. ... MSU defeated UAPB 106-48 last season in its opener.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.