Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Langley stepping up for St. John's

It's a pretty safe assumption that Keylantra Langley never drove into the lane during her time at Lauralton Hall and encountered anything like Baylor's 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. Yet here she was in her second year at St. John's showing the willingness to venture into the paint during the first game of the Maggie Dixon Classic on Sunday.

Langley got an early call when Eugeneia McPherson picked up two quick fouls and less than 30 seconds after coming into the game she headed towards the basket, drew Griner towards her and delivered a perfect pass to teammate Amber Thompson for a layup. Langley played 25 minutes and had four points, one rebound, one assist and two steals in the Red Storm's 73-59 loss to Baylor.

"When you are playing against her, you can't really back off," Langley said. "You still have to go through your game plan. You know she is there but you have to try to attack the basket the best you can.

"We are trying to go out there and play St. John's basketball and do the best we can. We came into the locker room with a lead (at halftime). I think we played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart today."

While Langley put up some modest stats, there is no questioning the impact she is making in her sophomore season or the rapid development she has shown since last season.

"She has been playing much better for us and her confidence has been getting a lot better," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "She really brings a lot to our team. I don't know what's going to happen with Nadirah but if she is (out), she will have to give us more. She is having a significant impact for us right now. She is aggressive on the offensive end, she can handle the ball, she rebounds like crazy and can defend. She is playing with a lot more confidence and has grown since her freshman year."

Barnes Arico was referred to the knee injury suffered by starting point guard Nadirah McKenith in the second half. The fear is that it is an ACL which would cost St. John's its unquestioned floor leader. If McKenith is out for an extended time, Langley could find herself as the starting point guard.

Is Langley ready for this challenge.

"Of course, if coach has confidence in me then I have to have confidence in myself," Langley said.

Speaking of injuries, St. John's senior forward and former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens is close to playing for the first time this season. Stevens suffered a knee injury in the offseason and was cleared to practice on Dec. 2.

"I think she is close, maybe this weekend," Barnes Arico said. "She has to go see the doctor again. She has been practicing and has been getting banged around a bit.

"She is not doing all the contact but she is running up and down and doing all the (non-contact)  drills  but she is not doing offensive/defensive stuff."

"It is tough and our schedule we went to the Bahamas and played in the Maggie Dixon Classic, we did all this stuff for her senior year and it has to be tough. We try to keep her upbeat at times but it really has to wear on her, it has to be devastating. She has done so much for our program, as been the face of our program for so long that you really wanted her to enjoy this season. She has been positive and hopefully she finishes strong."


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