Leading By Example

Nietzsche once wrote, "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger". This line of reasoning could be applied to the past couple of years for Lady Raiders' senior forward Plenette Pierson. When the 2001-2002 season started it looked like Pierson was going to be one of the key contributors for the Lady Raiders, but just four games into the season Pierson was suspended from the team.

After being suspended, it would have been easy for Plenette to either quit the team or transfer to another school, but she chose the more difficult task of working her way back into the Lady Raiders' lineup.  This has proven to be a great decision.  Plenette took advantage of the time off to improve herself on and off the court.  Her improvements as a basketball player are the easiest to see.  Plenette says she used the time off to, "work on my game and better myself in some things that were my weaknesses.  I kind of tried to make them my strengths".  Plenette's improved game has allowed her to increase her scoring average by almost 3 points over her last full season.  Another reason for this increase is a change in offensive philosophy.  Assistant Coach Linden Weese says "She's such a great athlete.  She's not just quick, she's strong too, and a powerful player.  I think she's convinced herself that getting it to the rim is the best chance that she has to score."


Plenette's offensive performances have been well documented, but her defensive ability is sometimes overlooked.   The most impressive defensive statistic is Plenette's 26 steals, which is second on the team.  It's unusual to see such a high steal total for a post player, but not totally unexpected from Plenette.  "I think Plenette may be one of the best off the ball defensive post players in the country.  If she doesn't want you to have it, you're not going to get it.  She does a great job of dancing around and mixing it up.  She'll play behind sometimes, she'll front sometimes.  She's so quick, not just with her feet, but with her hands also.  She can really make it hard on wing girls trying to find a post player", said Assistant Coach Weese.  Plenette also recognizes how important her quickness is on the defensive end of the court.  "I try to rely on my quickness, being that most of the people I play against are bigger than me", said Plenette.  This size disadvantage hasn't stopped Plenette from getting 25 blocks this season, second only to Cisti Greenwalt.


The year off has also helped Plenette have a better understanding of her role as a Lady Raider.  Plenette said, "I think my role is to be a leader, and at the same time just be a scoring threat  on the inside and help get other teammates open and just help others".  Plenette's leadership has been an important asset for the Lady Raiders this season.  She plays with great intensity all the time, whether she's in a game or practicing.  "I try to lead by example.  When we go through drills and stuff I try to lead by example and every once in a while I may say a few things".  The entire Lady Raider team has followed her example.  There are plenty of smiles in practices and games, but make no mistake, these players are very serious about winning games.


Tomorrow night Plenette will play in her final game in Austin when the Lady Raiders face the Lady Longhorns.  Pierson has the chance to finish her career a perfect 3-0 in Austin.  Plenette said, "That would be great for me to win in Austin my senior year.  Texas is a great basketball team, we just know that we have to go in there and play our game and do everything we've been doing all year.  That way we'll hopefully come out with a W".


Plenette has faced a tough road over the past two seasons, but she's come out as an outstanding basketball player and person.  It's tough to say what the future holds.  She will probably be a candidate for the Big 12 player of the year, along with other awards.  The WNBA is certainly a possibility for a player like Plenette.  Whatever happens Plenette will probably do well for herself, in part because of everything she has learned in her time as a Lady Raider.

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