By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
ELNORA — The hope of most basketball teams is that the point guard can be an extra coach on the floor, and that practice is no more evident than for the North Daviess Lady Cougars, and senior point guard Larynda Keith.
Keith has saved her best season for last while leading the Cougars to a 14-4 record, and a tie atop the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference in her final season in Elnora. Along the way, she has shattered single season and career marks for assists this season.
Keith has 99 assists through 17 games this season, the previous record was 80 for the entire season. For her career, Keith has 240 assists, 35 more than the previous record.
A third record Keith has her eye on is the single game assist record of 11. She has two different games this year with 10, but time is running out.
"I was excited when he (Knepp) told me when I was getting close, so I just keep pushing forward," Keith said. "I broke those two and he (Knepp) told me of one I haven't gotten yet. I joke around with my teammates, I say, 'Hey, help me get these assists'."
Knepp instilled the responsibility of running the team with Keith as a freshman in his first days as the North Daviess coach, and along the way he's seen a sometimes timid freshman turn into an outstanding point guard capable of leading this team. This season, Keith is averaging 5.8 assists per game, and she's posted a 3:1 assist:to turnover ratio.
"When you have a freshman point guard it is very difficult, because that person is out there just trying to survive," Knepp said. "Now that person is out there evaluating the situation, they aren't just surviving anymore. Larynda (Keith) is a lot stronger now as a senior than she was as a freshman. That gives her the ability to handle the basketball while being closely guarded."
It's that experience that Knepp speaks about that has allowed the Cougars to jump from a combined nine wins in his first two years to nine wins last season to 14 wins in 18 games this season. Keith's progression has also helped the development of North Daviess' top two scorers, junior forward's Meghan Knepp and Sabra Smith.
"This is their third year together, so that chemistry allows her to know what kind of passes the prefer to receive," Knepp said. "She (Keith) knows where they like to catch the basketball. She knows what passes to get them and where to get them to shoot a higher percentage. She knows the difference between the two players, and she puts them in good situations. That chemistry has been huge for them this year."
Knepp insists that Keith has the green light to shoot the ball whenever she sees an opportunity, but often times Keith appears to be hesitant to shoot the ball. Whether it is a good shot from Keith or anyone else, the senior is constantly looking for the right shot on every possession.
"When I was younger, I wasn't the best shooter," Keith said. "I just got used to passing since I wasn't shooting very much. Now that I'm grown up, I've been shooting a little bit more this season. It's easier for me to pass than shoot, because when I was younger I got blocked a lot, because I was shorter. Right now it's easier to pass than shoot, because I know that they're open, and they will hit shots more than I will. I have a trust thing with them."
No matter who takes the shots for the Cougars, Keith will make sure the right player gets the ball in the right spot. After all, she knows best, just like another coach on the floor.