[Alaina Walker drives to the basket against Indiana last season and has to do more of the same this year as one of the team leaders – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]
After an injury to senior Chelsea Bowker, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team is down to one four-year player—Alaina Walker.
Walker, having started every game her sophomore and junior seasons, will lead this young Bona team and she relishes the chance.
“(Chelsea and I) came in together and even though we can’t leave together, we’re both experienced,” said Walker. “With having six new freshmen on the team, that’s what you need.”
The Bonnies will look to Walker, a guard, for her leadership but also for her rebounding and defense. She was named to the 2012-13 Preseason Second-Team All-Big Four.
As a junior, Walker averaged career-high totals of 6.3 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. She had double-digit rebounds three times last season.
“Hopefully that’ll be her legacy going forward,” said assistant coach Ryan Gensler. “She’ll be able to continue doing that during the year and be real aggressive on both ends of the court.”
In the Atlantic 10’s preseason predictions, the Bonnies were picked to finish seventh in the 16-team league. Walker admits that the team’s biggest obstacle this year shouldn’t be talent.
“It’s just getting out there and not worrying about the little things and distractions,” Walker said. “Just tune that out and go out every day and play hard, play with consistency and I think the results will take care of themselves.”
Last year, the Pomona, N.Y. native was one of two players to start every game. The other, Jessica Jenkins, is playing professionally in Iceland after many regarded her as a potential WNBA prospect.
Walker’s defense has continued to pace the Bonnies. The A-10 coaches picked her for the Preseason All-Defensive Team, an honor that she takes pride in.
“My expectations are even higher than they were last year,” she said.
Gensler seems to agree with Walker. He believes that one of the best defensive players in the A-10 is a great leader for the younger girls.
“If she is making it tough for the freshmen to bring up the ball then they are learning against one of the best defenders in the league,” said Gensler. “Staying consistent with that effort everyday sends a powerful message that should ripple down to the underclassmen that hey, I have to bring it just as strong everyday with that consistent effort.”
Walker believes that having six freshmen and three new starters on the team can have a big impact on the season. The atmosphere will definitely be different than last year’s.
“I’m taking more of a leadership role and trying to get back to the point we were at last year,” she said. “And that’s either being shown through my effort, my defensive play or just being more vocal. That’s what I have to do.”
And if Walker can continue to lead by example, the freshmen will pick up the system faster and the learning curve becomes shorter for the young but talented Bona squad.