COLUMBIA — A year ago, junior Toy Richbow was the undisputed starting point guard on the Missouri women’s basketball team. Richbow started all but three games as a sophomore and averaged more than 30 minutes per game.
But after starting three games at the beginning of this season, Richbow was benched in favor of redshirt freshman Bekah Mills, who has since solidified her role as the team’s starting point guard. Consequently, Richbow’s statistics have decreased across the board. Her scoring, assist and rebound numbers are down from last season, and she is averaging 10 fewer minutes. While she admits she would still like to start, she makes it clear that she has no problems with her new role even if it does mean a reduction in minutes.
“It’s all still basketball,” Richbow said. “Nothing really changed. I just come off the bench and I try to keep up the intensity whenever Bekah gets tired so there’ll be no drop-off with the starters when we come off the bench. It’s not really a big difference. It’s the same basketball.”
Richbow’s decreased role seems to have more to do with Mills’ emergence than her own decline. Her playing time is down, but she still averages more minutes than any other reserve on the Tigers’ roster and is often used late in games as a defensive specialist.
“She provides a lot of energy, and she’s also a good rebounder for her size,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “Anybody that can play defense like she can, we’ve got to find minutes for.”
Richbow and Mills have rarely been used on the court at the same time, but Stein said that is a lineup she has thought a lot about and would like to use before the season is over. She said each player has a different skill set that could mesh well together on the court.
“Bekah’s a little more analytical and a thinker about where she cuts,” Stein said. “She probably doesn’t move as quickly as Toy but she is very efficient and is obviously more of a scorer than Toy although Toy’s getting there.”
Mills said Stein likes having multiple ballhandlers on the floor at the same time. When Mills and Richbow play at the same time as sophomore guard Raeshara Brown it gives the Tigers three players capable of running the team’s offense and allows them to set up their offense quicker than with only one or two.
Richbow agreed that Mills’ game would complement her own very well. Offensively, Mills’ is more of a pure scorer who currently leads the Tigers in three-point percentage. Richbow relies on penetrating opposing defenses and distributing the ball to her teammates. But, Richbow added, starting the game on the bench has its own advantages.
“We both (her and Mills) give each other pointers on what to do,” Richbow said. “When she starts the game I get to see her pick apart the defense and stuff like that, and I go in and look to fix what she didn’t do, and then she critiques me too. I think it’s a good combination with her starting, and me coming off the bench.”
The Tigers (10-6, 1-2) play at Iowa State (13-4, 1-2) at 7 tonight.
Missouri (10-6, 1-2 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (13-4, 1-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
Radio: KWWC/90.5 FM