COLUMBIA — Sophomore Toy Richbow is quietly doing a solid job in her first season as the starting point guard for the Missouri women’s basketball team.
“I think she’s done a nice job,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “She’s picked up her scoring a little, she’s gotten smarter on seeing situations and making good reads.”
Richbow is ninth in the Big 12 Conference in assists at 3.7 a game, but more important to the Tigers is that she is 19th in the league and third on the team in minutes with 30.8 per game. She has provided a consistent presence on the court that has helped a young team, with four new starters, build chemistry.
“I love playing with Toy,” junior guard Alyssa Hollins said. “She knows exactly what I want to do. She knows where I want the ball. She can read me pretty well, she knows when I’m going to fade or something like that.”
Richbow has started all but three games this season, and has had no trouble adjusting to the greater workload physically. Richbow said she hasn’t hit a wall even though she’s played almost twice as many minutes as she did last season.
“She’s not someone you ever worry about not being in good shape, she can do it,” Stein said. “That’s helped her to maintain good play that long.”
While Richbow has done a solid job as the starting point guard, she has been turnover prone at times. She averages just under three turnovers per game and had a particularly brutal four-game stretch over 10 days, beginning with Missouri’s loss to Kansas on Jan. 19 and ending with the Tigers’ loss to Texas A&M. She averaged 6.3 turnovers per game during that stretch and turned the ball over a career-high nine times against the Jayhawks. She had her worst game of the season against Texas when she had eight turnovers and no assists.
“I think I started off all right, and then I kind of started slacking off and getting a little inconsistent,” Richbow said. “but I think I gained my rhythm back these last two or three games.”
Stein said even though Richbow has some “growing pains” at times, those numbers are more of a reflection of the team’s poor play in that stretch than any mistakes she may have made.
“A lot of times she’s been put in bad situations where we didn’t give her a lot of help, and I think that caused her to turn the ball over a little bit more,” Stein said.
While Stein said she is happy with Richbow overall, she wants her point guard to be more assertive offensively. Throughout the season, Stein has searched for a steady source of offense from someone other than Hollins, sophomore forward Jessra Johnson or freshman forward Shakara Jones.
“She’s very unselfish, she’s willing to distribute,” Stein said of Richbow. “She understands that her getting some scoring and getting some points will help us in the long run by not letting people sag off of her and things like that.”
Richbow might need to improve on her scoring, but she’s done a good job learning how to manage the game and make sure she keeps her teammates involved. While she runs the offense, Richbow thinks about who she hasn’t passed the ball to in a while to make sure to keep everyone in the game.
“I kind of keep track of who’s hot, who’s getting overplayed and who to look to throw it to,” Richbow said.
Hollins said Richbow has done a good job adjusting to her new role and has played well this season.
“She was ready for that challenge and she’s buckled down, and had her ball-handling skills together,” Hollins said. “She’s taking care of the ball and making good decisions out there.”