Missouri women's basketball coach wants more from Crafton

Thursday, February 23, 2012 | 9:43 p.m. CST; updated 6:04 p.m. CST, Friday, February 24, 2012
Missouri guard Sydney Crafton drives the ball past Iowa State guard Chassidy Cole on Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA — When junior Sydney Crafton made a 3-point basket with four seconds left to force overtime in Tuesday's game against Iowa State, it was a glimpse of the talent Crafton can contribute to the Missouri women's basketball team. 

But for Tigers coach Robin Pingeton, glimpses aren't enough. She wants a full display.

"We need more consistency from her," Pingeton said of Crafton. Crafton scores 6.6 points per game but has reached a season-high of 14 points twice. "We want more, we need more out of her. She's got a ton of potential, and you see signs of it here and there, but we're yet to put it together at the level I think we need to."

Crafton spent more than eight years helping out on two family farms in St. James, Mo. Crafton had her own pony named Nestle and helped her parents and grandparents with the hard work of raising cattle, pigs, chickens and horses.

Pingeton said she thought that effort would have helped Crafton learn about the extra work required to be a successful Division I athlete, but so far Pingeton hasn't seen it as much as she would like.

Pingeton and Crafton have had numerous conversations focusing on improving Crafton's work ethic outside of games and practices.

"It's hard to have confidence in your shot when you don't put in the time," Pingeton said. "She's gotten away with so much for so long on her natural ability. And she does work hard in practice. But to be great, it takes more than two hours a day."

After a recent conversation between the two, Crafton said she needed to take a step back and examine what she could to do to improve as a player.

"She (Pingeton) said confidence pays off from getting in the gym," Crafton said. "I just thought about it. The more I get in (the gym), the more confident I'm going to get in my shot."

Her confidence showed in that last second 3-pointer, and Crafton's teammates have noticed the extra work she is doing.

"She's been getting in the gym a lot more than usual," senior forward BreAnna Brock said. "Syd's a guard so you want her to be versatile inside and out. She's been in nights and early mornings from what I've been seeing, getting her shots up."

Pingeton sent an email in the early afternoon Thursday, telling her team that practice was canceled. That didn't stop more than half the team — including Crafton — from taking shots in the practice gym at Mizzou Arena on their day off.

Missouri is graduating three seniors at the end of the season. Christine Flores, who leads the Tigers in points, BreAnna Brock and Bailey Gee will all be gone. With their absence next season, it will become even more important for Crafton to step up.

Crafton is one of three juniors on the team that will have to provide experienced leadership next season, especially because she's been at Missouri the longest. The other two juniors, Liene Priede and Liz Smith, transferred from junior colleges. 

Before that happens, however, Pingeton said she will need to have some "tough conversations" with her players in the offseason.

"Certainly you want your seniors to step up in a leadership position, but I think all of our players got to really look themselves in the mirror and get themselves right before they can be concerned with leading a team," Pingeton said.

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