Not only was freshman center Kiah Stokes not bringing enough energy and effort to practice earlier this season, she lacked toughness in the lane too. She said that she would shy away from contact instead of initiating it.
That seems to be no longer the case judging by her performance last week in wins over No. 5 Duke and No. 17 Rutgers. Stokes generated four points and season-highs of 12 rebounds, five blocks and 28 minutes in outplaying Duke’s 6-foot-3 star freshman center Elizabeth Williams Jan. 30. Stokes followed with 10 points, five rebounds and one block in 15 minutes in battling Rutgers’ 6-2 post player Monique Oliver Saturday.
“The coaches have really impressed on me to make contact first,’’ Stokes said. “And I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of that and I know that my teammates have noticed it. They come up to me after the games and I appreciate that. And I love what they do for me as well.’’
Adding a toughness factor to her game has further fueled what has been a remarkable turnaround for Stokes. She is averaging 6.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 16.9 minutes in seven games since being benched for the second time at Villanova Jan. 14.