The best college basketball players are often the ones who get through a thicket of arms and legs and claim the loose balls. They pick up more rebounds that hit the floor than many players get when jumping alone for a missed shot.
The most effective players deflect opponent’s passes and cause turnovers when hustling to prevent an easy basket.
They buzz around causing furrowed brows on the faces of coaches who don’t have players of their own doing the same.
Opposition coaches would like to call pest control. But it wouldn’t do them any good.
When a player whose non-stop hustle and team-first attitude is also the leading scorer and top rebounder, then a coach has a pillar of purpose and strength to call on each night the team plays.
Over at Shepherd, senior forward Emily Daniel recently whizzed past the 1,000-point scoring mark and lifted her career rebounding total on past 725.
Daniel probably will end her four-year stay at Shepherd as the school’s seventh all-time scorer and fourth all-time rebounder.
Who could have seen that type of career production coming from a 5-foot-9 forward from Shady Spring High in Raleigh County?
Shady Spring has been forever in the long shadow cast by Beckley Woodrow Wilson High in the same county. When Daniel was a first-team all-state selection at Shady Spring, it was a Class AA team. Woodrow Wilson was the much-acclaimed Flying Eagles with boys state championships presided over by legendary coaches and icons Jerome Van Meter and “Preach” Wiseman as well as mercurial Dave Barksdale.
Shady Spring had won a Class AA girls regional championship while Daniel was playing there. She had averaged 21 points a game while getting 10 rebounds, making four steals, and being credited with six assists a game during her senior year in Raleigh County.
During her four-year high school career, Daniel scored 1,809 points, secured 880 rebounds, doled out 502 assists, and made 409 steals. But too many times high school numbers and high school ways don’t translate into being a quality college player.
But they don’t have statistical categories that measure toughness and “heart”. There aren’t any instruments that measure the value of hustling leadership and quiet determination.
When Daniel was a freshman during the 2010 season, she started only one time and her high games showed 15 points and 11 rebounds. Daniel totaled 139 points and 144 rebounds as Shepherd had a 17-12 overall record.
As a sophomore in 2011, she started 24 games and the team went 15-13. Her averages rose to 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, those numbers coming from 255 points and 216 rebounds.
Last year as a junior, Daniel started all 31 games as the Lady Rams finished with a 20-11 record and reached the semifinal round of the WVIAC tournament in Charleston.
She was once the conference’s player of the week.
Improvement was shown in field goal accuracy when she finished the season making 142-of-274 attempts or a 51.8 percent accuracy norm. Her free throw percentage was 76.2 (77-for-101).
Daniel had led the team in scoring in eight games and in rebounds in 13 games. She logged a team-high 921 minutes while averaging 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.
The WVIAC named her a second-team all-conference player.
This season, Shepherd has struggled with consistency and had a 9-11 record after losing on Monday at Davis & Elkins. The team’s 8-8 conference record had it tied for eighth with West Virginia State.
Already this season, Daniel has led the team in scoring some six times and has been the leading rebounder in 10 games. Before Monday’s loss at Davis & Elkins, she led the Lady Rams in scoring with a 13.7 points a game average.
Daniel neared the 1,000-point milestone with a 29-point showing at home against Pitt-Johnstown. She breezed past that figure the next time out with a 27-point performance against Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi.
Going to Elkins to face the Senators, she had 1,025 points on her way (barring injury or misfortune) to surpassing Ann Giaquinto, who now stands in seventh place with her 1,097 career points.
Jenny Hawbaker ended her Shepherd stay with 804 rebounds, good for fourth place all-time in the Shepherd annals. Daniel should surpass that rebounding number as well.
A fitness and exercise science major, Daniel has only three more home games left during the regular season. If Shepherd can finish in the top eight teams in the regular season standings, it will get to host a game in the last WVIAC women’s tournament.
Numbers and statistics crowded into Daniel’s corner make her one of the league’s most valuable players.
Hustle, “heart”, and a keep-to-it drive and attitude make her more valuable than any of the players on the other 14 conference teams.
Daniel has outshone any women’s player recently sent off to college by Beckley Woodrow Wilson High. And down south in Raleigh County, that measure of success hasn’t been seen by a Shady Spring graduate.