Forget about the scoring for a minute.
Terrance Smith can’t think about the 17.3 points per game he scored for Columbia College last season at the moment. The senior guard is too busy racing back on defense. His team just lost the ball and guard Justin Falkner has thoughts of turning into a quarterback, trying to hit a streaking Lee Sattler up the court for an easy layup.
Smith has other ideas. He gets back in time to stick his left hand out and break up the play just before tumbling out-of-bounds. It’s well into the second hour of practice, but Smith pulls himself up and has a look on his face that says he could do this all day. With a smile, he tells his teammates exactly what happened.
“D-back skills baby,” Smith shouts, tapping his heart.
It’s those types of skills that Smith has worked tirelessly on during the offseason. With eight new players on the team this season, many of whom coach Bob Burchard hopes will provide an offensive spark, Smith has been asked to do different things this season in addition to providing the team with scoring.
The first thing on Smith’s to-do list was to improve his defense, on and off the ball. Smith’s quickness and agility allow him to excel on the offensive end. But now he’s covering the opposing team’s best guards and trying to shut them down.
Burchard said the additional role initially had an adverse effect on Smith’s decisions on offense. By putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket too early, Smith became too quick for the Cougars’ offense. With extra work, he’s slowed his pace and the offense began to flow in practice.
“I think Terrance’s role evolved a little bit, but now we’re starting to see him smooth right back out to what he was doing last year,” Burchard said.
Last year, Smith played almost a do-it-all role. With little help on offense outside of
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forward Nahowan Saxon and swingman Andreas Jakobsen, the offense ran almost exclusively through Smith’s hands. He benefited from it in his statistics, earning honorable mention All-American status. But the team struggled with consistency, especially when Smith had anoff-night.
“You could tell every game it was like I’ve got to make shots to get us going,” Smith said. “We had some guys struggling but I was just able to find it within myself to come out every day, every game and try and be consistent to give us a chance. I still have to do that.”
Smith’s stature on the team has evolved this year as well. With so many new players, Smith is among the most experienced on the team, though he has played only one year at Columbia College. That hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the team’s leaders. Burchard said he doesn’t do it with his words. He leads by example, especially after he has a poor game.
Earlier this season, after the Cougars defeated Lincoln University 82-66, Smith wasn’t happy with his performance. He scored 14 points, but shot a paltry 1-for-9 from 3-point range.
Burchard said he watched from afar as Smith spent 20 minutes after the game working on the fundamentals of his shot release. In the next game against Central Bible College, Smith shot 5-for-9 from 3-point range and scored 21 points in the Cougars’ victory.
“That kind of leadership is not only effective but it’s positive,” Burchard said.
That leadership was on display at practice last week. After breaking up the pass intended for Sattler, he organized the defense, encouraging his teammates to step up their defensive intensity.
“Come on,” Smith said. “We’ve got work to do.”