Givens Among Nation's Best in Scoring and StealsDecember 16, 2005 · Denise Gideon, MT Media Relations
Givens smiles proudly about the defensive statistics. After all it is her forte, what she is used to. In fact her goal for this season is to break the steals record of 112 and to keep the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award at Middle Tennessee where it has gone for the past three years. In fact, former Blue Raider player and Assistant Coach Keisha McClinic informed Givens she had to break the record set by herself and fellow former player Patrice Holmes.
"I want to break the steals record, it is one of my goals of the season," Givens said. "Keisha told me I had to keep the Defensive Player of the Year award in the family."
For the first two years of her Blue Raider career, Givens was willing to do the dirty work. A defensive minded player, Givens didn't mind to dive on the floor for a ball or rip down a rebound. Scoring, however, was a different matter.
Givens was content to play hard ball behind former Middle Tennessee standout Holmes. When Holmes left and new Head Coach Rick Insell took over, Givens found her role on the team shifting.
For years she was told by her father, Tillman, she could shoot the ball that Givens could be a scorer for whatever team she was on. When Insell stepped on the court, he told her the same thing, but this time he had a bit more leverage.
"Coach [Rick] Insell said he wanted me to shoot the ball more and I didn't know if that was the role for me," Givens said. "He told me either I accepted that I could and would be a scorer for this team or I would be watching from the bench."
A consummate competitor, it was just enough incentive for Givens to test her skills as a shooter. Givens' began her journey to shooting prowess in the gym with Assistant Coach Kevin McMillan. Extra practice and evaluations of her shot were all par for the course in the preseason to hone not only her short-range shot but the three-point shot as well.
"Coach [Kevin] McMillan took me aside and spent extra time with me on my shooting," Givens said. "He has got to be one of the smartest people in basketball because he took my shot and evaluated it and helped me perfect it. People around me told me how much the look of my shot had changed and that right there gave me the confidence to shoot the ball."
Givens' confidence in her shot suffered a tough blow in the opening game of the season. Against Chattanooga Givens was 7-of-27 from the field and 1-of-11 from the 3-point line. It was a striking blow to Givens and her confidence but Insell wouldn't let her get down.
"He told me to just continue to shoot the ball," Givens said. "It was hard for me but I did it."
Against Houston, Givens had her lowest scoring output of the young season. She scored just eight points and it looked like the confidence in her scoring ability was waning.
Givens proved her mettle and her heart as she bounced back and scored 23 points against Georgia Southern. Her 20 plus points against Georgia Southern has begun an impressive string of scoring for the Monroe, Louisiana native. Givens came back the next day and put up 30 points against Eastern Kentucky, her first 30-point performance of her career.
Currently, Givens has scored 20 or more points in her last six games. In that span, she has scored 147 points and averaged 24.5 points per game. She is shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from the three-point line and 68 percent from the charity stripe.
Givens understands a streak like the one she is on is hard to maintain. However, she isn't worried so much about the streak as she is the means to them.
"I scored 20 or more points, yet I am still 10-of-18," Givens said. "I see that I scored 20 points and I am still mad at myself because I missed so many shots. I don't like seeing that. It is something I am working on."
The next test for Givens and the Blue Raider is Sunday December 18 at 6 p.m. when Middle Tennessee faces Penn State at the UAB Blazer Tournament. It will be the sixth time in school history Middle Tennessee will face a team from the Big 10 and the first time the Blue Raiders will face the Lady Lions.
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