Givens Sees Senior Year as a Dream SeasonJune 2, 2006 · Denise Gideon, MT Media Relations
It would seem the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year would have very little left to accomplish at Middle Tennessee. She achieved her ultimate goal, graduating in three years with a degree in Criminal Justice just last month, which serves to prove Givens is true to her word about putting academics first in her collegiate career.
Coupled with her academic achievements, including being named ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-America, she concluded her junior year by reaching heights not even she could have imagined on the basketball court.
She kept the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award at Middle Tennessee, as she was the fourth consecutive Blue Raider to win it. Not to mention her Sun Belt First Team selection and being named Sun Belt Tournament MVP.
Givens also broke the tournament record for most points scored in a game with 36 against Louisiana-Lafayette in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Championships. Oh, by the way, she also finished ranked eighth in the nation in scoring averaging 21.5 points per game. Givens became the 19th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau and she scored the second-most points in a single season at Middle Tennessee with 667.
Givens also doesn't know what it is like to lose in the Sun Belt Championships. As a freshman, she helped the upper-classmen avenge their loss to Western Kentucky in the finals the previous year for her first Sun Belt title. Her sophomore year, Givens helped send off former standout Patrice Holmes with her second Sun Belt Championship. Givens' junior year was all about respect and defending the home court as the Blue Raiders hosted the Sun Belt Championships and made one of the best comebacks in Middle Tennessee history, climbing back from a 13-point deficit to defeat Western Kentucky 84-73 for its third-straight Sun Belt title.
So, what does Givens have left to prove? What does she want to achieve? Givens is coming back because she sees the bigger picture and she wants to help lead Middle Tennessee into the national spotlight.
"Even though I have achieved all of these accolades I know there is another plateau this team can reach," Givens admits. "Everything I did this past year I felt there was still so much more I could improve on. So, going into this year, I feel like now is the time for me to perfect my game."
She is embracing her role as a leader. It is not a title given to her because of her years on the team, she is a leader because she accepts the role and all that it entails.
"Now is the time Coach [Rick] Insell comes to me when something is wrong," Givens said. "I know I am a leader now and I know what I have to do. It is not just guessing anymore."
What Givens will have to do is prepare her team for one of the biggest challenges the Blue Raiders will have in recent years. On November 10, Middle Tennessee will host defending National Champion Maryland in the Murphy Center. That is right, the Blue Raiders kick off the season with the Terps, who will be brandishing their national championship rings as they stroll the hallways of the arena before playing Middle Tennessee.
"I see this as my dream year," Givens said. "I came to Middle Tennessee because I felt it was a program on the move and now to know I am part of pushing this program to the next level is a great feeling. I dreamed of playing for schools like Tennessee and now I am going to get to play against them. It is truly amazing."
Givens knows she just can't step back onto the court and pick up where she left off. She knows it will be a lot of hard work and she is starting the climb to the next level. She will spend the summer months in the weight room and in the gym preparing her body and perfecting her shot so that when it is time to live the dream she will reach beyond the stars to a place she only dreamt of. Could her dream take her to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships? Only time will tell, but don't doubt a young woman with the drive and the heart to make all her dreams come true.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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