Nova Southeastern women’s basketball

Sharks regroup with a purpose


Nova Southeastern learned from its mistakes in the conference tourney and has romped into the Elite Eight.

Special to The Miami Herald

Nova Southeastern coach LeAnn Freeland gathered her players following an 83-80 loss to Rollins College in the second round of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament.

Sensing their disappointment — the Sharks had beaten the Tars twice in the regular season — Freeland told them to stay loose and have fun while playing. She asked seniors Meixandra Porter and Tailor Jones to set the tone with their calm presence.

“Coach asked us to focus more and turn the page,” sophomore guard Danielle Robinson said. “We went back and watched it and learned from our mistakes and realized this isn’t the end for us. We just came together and made a change.”

The loss didn’t necessarily serve as a wake-up call, but rather a reminder of a second chance in the postseason.

Sixteen days later, Freeland has watched the team cherish every moment. Whereas the players might have taken a possession off earlier in the season, they now thrive with a sense of urgency, understanding it’s “win or go home.”

Nova (23-8) won by an average of 22 points in its three regional games en route to Tuesday night’s matchup against fifth-ranked Western Washington (28-3) in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in San Antonio.

“I feel like right now we have played our best basketball over the last week,” Freeland said. “There’s something to say about peaking at the right time, and I am hopeful we’re peaking at the right time.”

In a 78-56 victory over Delta State in the South Region final on March 18, the Sharks started five guards. Two of those players — junior Amanda Burakoski and Jones — stand at 6-0.

Even when facing taller opponents, Nova likes to dictate the pace, relying on its defense to provide pressure up and down the court.

It’s part of Freeland’s philosophy, which she has developed over the years. Based on versatility, women who can defend any position will make it tough for teams to match up.

“We’re pretty much interchangeable,” said Porter, the team’s leading scoring at 17.1 points per game. “That can work to our advantage. It makes it fun for practice and just knowing that you have a scoring threat.”

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category