Tiffany Foote is Columbia College’s shortest player, but facing larger competition is nothing new to her.
Foote, a junior point guard, started playing organized basketball in fifth grade but first competed in her back yard with her two older brothers.
“It was fun, but they always pushed me around, like older brothers do,” she said. “I got into it and stuck with it ever since.”
On Monday, Foote was named the American Midwest Conference Player of the Week for Jan. 11-17. In two games, she averaged 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
She said she was excited to receive the award.
“I didn’t even realize I was nominated the week before,” she said. “So I was shocked, surprised but happy about it.”
Foote’s teammate, Charliss Ridley, won the week before.
The Cougars (12-7, 3-0 AMC) play Williams Baptist (Ark.) at 3 p.m. Saturday at The Arena of Southwell Complex.
At 5 feet 6, Foote penetrates and scores in the paint with regularity thanks to her outstanding quickness. She’s the Cougars’ third-leading scorer with 13.3 points per game, but coach Mike Davis said she is even more valuable as a distributor. Foote’s 115 assists more than double the total of any of her teammates.
“Tiffany really brings a different dimension to us with her athleticism and quickness,” Davis said. “I think this year she’s really harnessed that and used it to our benefit.”
Lisa Kowalewski, the Cougars’ all-time leading scorer, has certainly benefited from Foote’s play-making ability in their 2 1/2 seasons at Columbia College. This season, Kowalewski is averaging 15.6 points. On the other hand, Kowalewski’s deft shooting opens up the lane for Foote.
“(Opponents) sometimes overplay (Kowalewski) and the pass, which allows me to drive,” Foote said.
Said Davis: “I’ll pat myself on the back; (Foote and Kowalewski) were two good signings three years ago. We were fortunate to get both of them. They complement each other very well, and I think they enjoy playing with each other.”
The Cougars’ season statistics suggest Foote plays bigger than her body. She is her team’s second-leading rebounder (5.2 per game) and shot blocker (11).
“When your point guard can lead you in steals, lead you in assists, is scoring the way she is and then help out on the boards, it really lets you get into your fast break,” Davis said. “She’s tenacious. She’s a great competitor.”
Foote, along with Kowalewski and Mindy Mitchem, has made the AMC’s All-Academic team the past two seasons. Foote said intelligence in school and on the basketball court are different things. Davis said his players’ excellence in the classroom gives them an advantage on the court.
“Tiffany’s a really intelligent person,” Davis said. “I think she’s making some good decisions.
“(Intelligence) allows you to think and create opportunities for yourself instead of just playing. At that point guard spot, that’s a pretty good thing to have.”