By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — One player was responsible for more than 30 percent of the 3-pointers that the UVa women’s basketball team made in 2009-10.
That player — Monica Wright — is now in the WNBA, which means other perimeter shooters must emerge if the Cavaliers are to keep opponents from clogging the lane this season.
Candidates include sophomore point guard China Crosby. She made only 4 of 28 attempts from beyond the arc before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2009-10, but Crosby believes she’s a better shooter than her numbers suggest.
Overall, she averaged 5.9 points, 2.3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1.2 steals as a freshman.
“It seemed like a lot of 3-point shots I took last year, I wasn’t set and I was rushing,” Crosby said last week. “I was pretty good, decent, in high school and AAU, so I know that I can get back into that flow if I take my time and keep working hard at it.”
Coach Debbie Ryan said: “I’ve seen China hit seven 3s in a game. Granted it was an AAU game, but it was for a championship. I think that she’s a player that we have to get back in the fold in terms of her confidence and in terms of her ability to do some things. But she will be able to put the 3 down, and she was really getting to that point [in 2009-10].”
The 5-6 Crosby, a McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior, started Virginia’s first 13 games last season. In the 14th game, Jan. 2 at Colorado, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, an injury that ended her season.
“When she got hurt in Colorado, she had really started to turn the corner in terms of her understanding of what we needed and what we wanted,” Ryan said. “In my opinion, that was really the toughest part of our season last year, because if we had had her down the stretch, it could have been the difference in four games.”
Virginia finished 21-10 after losing in the NCAA tournament’s first round.
Crosby, who had reconstructive surgery Jan. 28, has been practicing with the team. She’s expected to be cleared for full participation by the Nov. 12 opener at Hofstra.
“They’re saying I should be good to go,” said Crosby, a graduate of Manhattan Center High School for Science and Mathematics in New York City.
“I feel like I should be good to go. We play in my hometown, so I better be good to go.”
Crosby said she expects to be more of a team leader this season.
“When I first came in, I was not vocal at all,” she said. “But Coach Ryan said, ‘You’re a New York City girl. How can you not be vocal?’
“Coming in I was a little shy, because I was a first-year starting. So I was a little overwhelmed. But then, probably a couple games before my injury, I started getting more vocal on the court. Started telling people what to do, started telling people where to go, and that [practice] before we played Colorado, I was actually feeling like a true leader on the floor.
“And then I got hurt. And it felt like everything I worked hard for went down the drain. But like I said before, everything happens for a reason, so now I feel like I’m even more mentally prepared.”
Of UVa’s returning players, junior guard Whitny Edwards made by far the most 3-pointers in 2009-10. Edwards hit 27 treys last season, second only to Wright’s 31.
As a team, the Wahoos were 102 for 406 from beyond the arc.