Most college basketball coaches don't create high expectations for freshmen coming into their programs.
That's because freshmen have a lot of things to learn -- about college as well as about a higher level of competition.
But Defiance College women's basketball coach, Dic Doumanian, is comfortable setting high goals for one of the freshmen on his team, Pettisville native Erica King.
"I think Erica can be as good as she wants to be," Doumanian said. "She is starting as a freshman, and she can start for four years here. She can become an all-conference player.
"She has the ability, the physical talent, and the intangibles -- the basketball IQ and mental demeanor -- to be as good as she wants to be."
That's high praise for King, who last season was named First Team All-Ohio in Division IV after averaging 19.0 points a game in leading the Pettisville Blackbirds to the regionals for the first time in school history.
Although King finished 1,224 career points, it was more than her scoring that made her attractive to the Yellow Jacket coaching staff.
Erica King drives up the court during a game at Defiance. She averages 8.7 points a game, third-best on the team and less than a point a game behind the team's scoring leader. She has started in all 12 of the Yellow Jackets' games this season.
"Her scoring ability was obvious -- she could knock down shots, and she could get to the basket and score," Doumanian said. "But I also liked her demeanor. Late in games, she was really cool under pressure.
"And I like the little things she did. For example, she was good at passing the ball into the post, and she was setting a lot of good screens. And her understanding of the game was good. She obviously had a high basketball IQ -- she knew what she was doing."
So Defiance began recruiting King, and she decided to join the Yellow Jacket program.
"Coach Doumanian and his assistants saw a lot of my games my senior year," King said. "They were nice, and they were upbeat about the program at Defiance. And they were sure I would fit in with the way I played.
"They didn't promise me playing time, or anything like that. But they were positive I could contribute right away."
King acknowledged that, when practices began this season, she was a little nervous. "There were 20 girls, and I was one of seven or eight freshmen," King said. "Once I started getting into a groove -- and that was a couple of weeks in -- I started to score.
"That's when I started to feel I fit in."
King has started all 12 of the Yellow Jackets' games this season, the only freshman to do so.
She averages 8.7 points a game, third-best on the team and less than a point a game behind the team leader, and also contributes 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest for Defiance.
"We were hoping Erica would do what she has done," Doumanian said. "We weren't sure how she would adjust defensively, or how long it would take her to adjust, because there are a lot of good players at this level who are all as big and talented as she is."
But the only numbers that concern King are the team's record: Defiance began the season with a 4-8 mark and was 2-3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
"The team record is not the greatest, but I'm trying to do my part," King said. "I've been the leading scorer in a couple of games, but I need to work on my defense.
"The team has struggled there, so I need to do my part so that we can get better."
For now, King has simple goals for her career at Defiance.
"I just want to contribute," she said. "I just want to create things for myself and for others.
"I just want to help the team improve our record -- and I know we can do it."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.
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