Leader Blues

Monday, December 14, 2009

SPORTS >> Slash, dash suit Sitzmann

UALR senior and Cabot graduate Kim Sitzmann is over her scoring slump with a rejuvenated inside shooting game.

Leader sports editor

Even a four-year starter and a prolific scorer can get complacent.

But not anymore, UALR senior guard Kim Sitzmann said.

Sitzmann, of Cabot, has apparently shaken out of her recent slump and has returned to what got her so many of her 1,255 career points.

Rather than wait around on the perimeter for a three-point attempt, Sitzmann is back to slashing and driving toward the basket and proved it with 18 points in Tuesday’s 82-54 victories over Austin Pay at the Jack Stephens Center.

“I’m a senior, I’m the leader,” Sitzmann said. “I’m supposed to be helping lead this team to victory. We lost three in a row and my performance was terrible. It had a lot to do with it. I’ve played well the last two games and we’ve come up with some big wins.”

Sitzmann had been in a 0-for-13 three-point shooting slump that led Trojans coach Joe Foley to bench her briefly, in favor of fellow Cabot product and freshman Shelby Ashcraft, in the 70-51 loss to Ole Miss three games ago.

Foley chuckled when asked if there was a message for Sitzmann in his choice of personnel. His primary goal was making sure Sitzmann got back to what has worked for her, he said.

“Kim’s a good kid and you even have to discipline good kids as far as the way they play the game. She got a little complacent with taking too many easy shots. Sometimes the easy shot’s not the best shot. Kids forget that sometimes and you’ve got to be aggressive and I think she’s been as aggressive now as much as she was when she was a freshman trying to prove herself.”

Sitzmann could laugh, too, when asked about Ashcraft.

“She had a great game against Drake,” Sitzmann said. “She came out and scored nine I think against them early in the first half and showed that she was capable of doing some stuff for us. I don’t know if he meant that on purpose or not but it’s done a little. I’m not going to lie.”

Sitzmann got the message loud and clear. Only three of her 18 points came from beyond the three-point line on Tuesday — on her only attempt — and Sitzmann added six rebounds and three assists with a 5-for-6 night from the free-throw line.

“I feel like I need to make smart decisions,” she said. “I sometimes settled for shots that aren’t necessarily the best shots to take. I may think I’m capable of taking it but it’s not good for the team in the flow of the game. The more we work the ball on offense the better shots we’re going to get.”

With her big night, Sitzmann moved into third place on UALR’s all-time scoring chart, surpassing former teammate Anshel Cooper, who scored 1,244 points from 2006-09.

“I think the main thing with Kim is just getting aggressive with the basketball,” Foley said.

Sitzmann survived three first-half fouls Tuesday and went into halftime with 13 points and UALR leading 45-18 on its way to a second-straight victory.

She converted a three-point play in the second half to give the Trojans their largest lead to that point, 52-24, and padded that second later when she drove the baseline and scored her final basket to make it 54-24 with 16:40 left in the game.

Sitzmann finally took a seat with 1:56 to go.

“I just feel like the games that I didn’t play well I just didn’t have my head in the game,” Sitzmann said. “And I wasn’t as focused as I needed to be and I took stuff for granted. The year is going to go by too fast for me to let any more games slip away.”

UALR has reached the late rounds of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and played in the postseason women’s National Invitational Tournament. But Sitzmann is only too aware this year marks her last chance to help the Trojans reach the big prize: the NCAA Tournament.

“That’ the ultimate goal,” she said.