Priede's hard work leads to success for Missouri women's basketball

Monday, February 27, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton has routinely witnessed something from junior guard Liene Priede that she has never seen before in 17 seasons as a head coach.

When the bus carrying Missouri players, coaches and staff returns to Columbia from a road game, Priede will go to her dorm, relax for a few minutes, then head to Mizzou Arena to practice on her own.

"It just doesn't happen, it's unheard of," Pingeton said. "(Even) after some home games when she's disappointed with her play, she continues to go over in the practice gym when everybody else is getting a postgame meal and doing their own things."

Priede, a Latvian native and junior college transfer, said she sometimes works on her jump shot, trying to make at least 100 baskets before finally calling it a night. Other times she will work on her lateral movement or her dribbling and ball control. It all depends on what she thinks she needs to improve on from the day's game.

"I can see how I change and how I grow (as a player)," Priede said. "It definitely has helped me a lot just to be here and to have the opportunity to use the gym any time I want so I can work on my skills."

For Pingeton, it's a testament to the uncommon motivation Priede has to be successful in one of the toughest conferences in women's college basketball.

Priede had success in Missouri's nonconference games. She scored 18 points in the Tigers' first exhibition game against Texas-San Antonio, 16 against St. Louis University and 17 in a loss to Northwestern.

Since then, her numbers have declined — Priede now averages 6.2 points per game. Pingeton said the main reason is because of the increased competition in the Big 12.

Eventually, though, the added practice Priede put in all season had to pay off. That moment came Saturday, when Priede made a 3-point shot with less than five seconds left against Kansas State that sent the game to overtime. She scored five points in the extra period to propel the Tigers to their second Big 12 win and their first home victory in conference play.

Pingeton wasn't the least bit surprised.

"You can call it a wild bank shot at the end of the game, but I really don't know how wild it was," she said. "When you put in the time, at some point you deserve to have success. I think it's all part of getting acclimated to this level. It can be overwhelming at times especially as a first-year player in the program whether you're a transfer player or a freshman."

Because Priede has such high expectations for herself, she gets frustrated when she misses a shot or turns over the ball. Pingeton often has to tell her to slow down, "take a breath and relax," to make sure she stays focused in a game. Learning not to get too frustrated can only come with time and more experience.

"It's a tough balance," Pingeton said. "It's part of going through what you go through as a first-year player at this level playing against this competition."

But like many of the inexperienced players on the roster, Priede's success can't be completely measured by the amount of points she scores. The key is to focus on the smaller aspects of the game that can get overlooked when a team is in a slump as Missouri was for the majority of Big 12 play.

"It's very challenging to ... continue to get in the gym outside of practice and do all the little things you've been doing when you're not having success," Pingeton said. "That was probably the most frustrating thing for her."

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