It’s in the DNA of coaches to demand more of their players. An extra rebound, better communication, a smoother defensive switch, sharper cuts, smarter passes.
Ohio University’s Bob Boldon has pretty much maxed out on Quiera Lampkins. He still coaches the Bobcats’ senior wing as hard as anyone else, but her productivity and value speak for themselves.
“She’s doing everything,” Boldon said. “I don’t know what else we could ask Quiera to do at this point. She’s scoring the ball for us, she’s passing it, she’s doing a tremendous job of distributing it. She’s guarding. And she’s rebounding for us and making plays defensively. I’m not sure what else she could do to help us win basketball games at this point.”
Lampkins leads the Bobcats (16-4, 7-2 MAC) into February atop the East Division riding a four-game win streak as they travel to Central Michigan (14-6, 6-2) for a game Wednesday on ASN.
“We’re playing well,” Lampkins said. “Of course, we still have some minor mistakes that we can fix, and on defense we still have to do a better job. We’re known to be a good defensive team, holding teams below their scoring average. Right now, we’re just trying to progress and be better at that. We haven’t been as (effective) as that as we have in the past, but we’re still working on it.”
Lampkins sets the tone at both ends of the floor. Already one of the best players in the program’s history, she further elevated her game this season. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year last season, she assumed a greater scoring burden for this group.
The 5-9 senior from Gahanna, Ohio is second in the conference in scoring (19.4 ppg), nearly a five-point jump from last season. She is Ohio’s No. 2 rebounder (6.9 rpg) and 11th in the league. She is second in the MAC in steals (2.5), 14th in assists (3.2) and ninth in free throw shooting (.798), while playing almost 35 minutes per game.
“I think (opponents are) giving her a lot of attention and rightfully so,” Boldon said. “That’s where I would start if I was trying to guard us, is figure out how to slow her down. But she’s such an unselfish player and such a willing passer. A lot of people send different defenders at her and she’s willing to make the pass, and get her teammates involved. I think she’s a pretty tough player to prepare for.”
Lampkins and guard Kiyanna Black were a superior tandem last season, as Black finished her career as the No. 2 scorer in school history. But with Black’s graduation, Lampkins is the Bobcats’ only double-figure scorer this season.
“My scoring role has changed,” Lampkins said. “I don’t feel like I can have a bad game, because I don’t have (Black) to rely on. We do have players that have been willing to step up and have done a great job of that this year.”
Indeed, seven players average between six and 10 points per game, though the team dynamic changed with the absence of senior center Jasmine Weatherspoon. Ohio’s leading rebounder, shot blocker and defensive anchor inside has missed the past two games with a lower leg injury. But Boldon believes she could return this weekend and certainly for the Bobcats’ stretch run that begins a week from Saturday.
The Bobcats must collectively make up for Weatherspoon’s absence, and naturally, Lampkins assumes a share of the responsibility.
“I have to rebound more, I have to box out more,” she said. “Making sure that we’re not giving up offensive rebounds because we rely on her so much to get rebounds.”
Lampkins is closing out a remarkable career herself. A double-figure scorer all four years, in addition to her defensive work, she has 1,578 career points and is 13 points away from becoming the No. 3 scorer in school history. She is 197 points from passing Black as the No. 2 scorer, with at least 10 games remaining.
“I didn’t plan or expect all of this to happen,” Lampkins said, “but I knew that I was capable of doing it. It just took the time and effort.”
Lampkins committed to the Bobcats under the previous staff. Boldon, who came to OU four years ago, was well aware of her as head coach at Youngstown State and re-recruited her when he got to Athens.
“I don’t know that you could envision this kind of career out of anybody,” Boldon said. “I think you can hope for it. We certainly thought that she fit what we did. If she finishes as the second- or third-leading scorer in the history of the school, that’s an amazing feat. I think you’d be pretty egotistical to say that I expected that out of anybody we recruited. That’s really phenomenal.”
Lampkins still comes to practice every day aiming to improve, whether it’s shooting a higher percentage of mid-range jump shots, finishing around the basket or defending smarter.
“She’s constantly trying to get better,” Boldon said, “and she’s a lot of fun to coach for that reason.”
Dave Fairbank is a freelance writer based in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Follow him on Twitter at @FairbankOBX.