By Josh Svetz
The transition from freshman year to sophomore year, otherwise known as “the jump,” is crucial to a player’s development. Sophomore guard Mariah Ruff knows the expectations being set on her in year two with the Bonnies.
“After the one year of being a player here in the A-10, I know what to expect,” said Ruff.
Last year, the 5-foot-9 Ruff appeared in all 30 games, averaging seven points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game. Ruff began the season coming off the bench with limited minutes. However, she started her first official game against UNC Greensboro December 17 and started at guard for the rest of the season.
Women’s basketball head coach Jim Crowley is expecting Ruff to take the leap this season.
“There should be a jump anytime (between) freshman (year) and sophomore (year),” said Crowley. “You kind of know what’s going on, so we need her to make a jump. She’s capable of that, and by a ‘jump’, I mean she needs to be consistent.”
Ruff had a roller coaster season that included two games with over 20 points and multiple games with under five points.
Despite the ups and downs of freshman year, Ruff has been working hard in the offseason to improve, and Crowley has taken notice.
“The thing we’ve seen more recently is her willingness to play downhill, to attack the basket, to be ready on the catch, to get in the paint and to play at a consistent high level,” said Crowley. “If that stays, she’ll become a pretty damn good player.”
Ruff also mentioned that she has been working on her pull-up jumper, which could help her scoring output.
Of course, Ruff’s most important trait as a point guard is her passing, and she’ll have to work well with backcourt mate and Nyla Reuter, who has been the top shooter on the team.
“I think we just have that connection on the court,” said Ruff. “I think that my passing compliments her shooting.”
While Crowley has not announced starting lineups yet, Ruff is expected to be a top contributor this year for the Bonnies. As Crowley pointed out, however, Ruff’s role is up to her.
“What she’s able to do, she’s going to control,” said Crowley. “Mariah has to play hard on both ends all the time. If she does that, then she’s going to really help us out and help her teammates out, and she’ll be able to do a lot of good things this year.”