Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022 |
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I’m going to be politically incorrect for a moment. Not in some Donald Trump-esque “the big problem this country has is being politically correct” sort of principled stance, just an honest critique.
I haven’t always been a big fan of women’s basketball. I’ve certainly always been in favor of its existence, but just in comparison to the men’s game, I’ve felt like it was an inferior product. Just as I’m a bigger fan of the NBA and NFL than men’s college basketball and football. I gravitate towards what I think is the best on-court or on-field product.
When I first started watching women’s hoops at the start of the WNBA, I didn’t find it as appealing because it wasn’t as electric. The game was played below the rim and there seemed to be more sloppiness. Lots of turnovers and loose balls and little finesse.
But a lot of that has changed over the years as more professional women’s teams and leagues have emerged. It has allowed younger girls to be more familiar with the game and to begin developing those basketball instincts earlier. That has made for a better product at the higher levels.
During my time on Kauai, the girls high school basketball games have been some of the most entertaining sporting events I’ve been to, thanks to the increasing skill level and the boisterous fan support. One of the on-court standouts during those seasons is now continuing to develop her game and having a great impact at the higher levels.
Chaminade University junior Kristle Henry is the savviest player that I’ve watched in the KIF. Henry captained the Kauai High School Red Raider wahine and earned KIF Player of the Year honors with her all-around game. Being a good player doesn’t always necessitate an elite feel for the game, but you know it when you see it. Sometimes a boy or girl is a great athlete and that translates into an effective player. Henry is not only a great athlete, but a great basketball player.
This season, Henry’s role has expanded with the Silverswords. Though the team entered Saturday night’s game against Dixie State with a 4-9 record, they had won their first three Pac West contests before dropping five of their past six.
On the season, Henry has started 12 games and is averaging 31 minutes a night. She’s third on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per contest and leads the club in both assists and steals while also notching its third-highest rebounding rate. That’s a full contribution across the stat sheet. Coaches love those players who aren’t simply specialists, but all-around players.
Henry set the tone in game one of the season, compiling 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in a losing effort against Alaska. She’s sixth in the conference in steals per game, 11th in rebounding and 14th in minutes.
None of this is new for Henry, who was the conference leader in steals last season and also led the Silverswords in assists. While the wins have been tough to come by during her Chaminade tenure, she’s been a key contributor on both ends since day one.
The women’s game has become more and more compelling with its increased exposure and more structure at the lower levels. We saw that firsthand with Henry in the KIF, and she’s now showing that same feel and savvy constantly at the college level.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.
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