The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Davenport showing off superhuman rebounding skills

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Erika Davenport’s best plays rarely make the highlight reel, but they’ve helped redefine the ceiling for the so-called undersized woman’s basketball team.

They happen a few times a game — 3.4 times, to be exact—  and they usually go like this: a Marquette guard, likely Natisha Hiedeman or Danielle King, scurries across half-court. Marquette will have a numbers advantage on the fast break, and, after a quick first action, they let the ball fly. Davenport hopes to hear a swish, but instinctively acts like she won’t.

When she doesn’t hear a swish is when her secret power shines brightest.

Like Superman flying in to save a free-falling Lois Lane, Davenport confidently bolts into the paint, slips in front of her usually taller opponent, and establishes a sure-footed position to snatch any ball that may bounce her way.

Davenport calls these offensive rebound plays momentum-shifters. To her teammates, these plays are a redemptive second chance to run half-court offense and put the ball in the hoop. And to her coach, these plays are the product of an intense turbocharged engine, whip-smart ball hunting instincts, and a dedication to the all-knowing, all-showing film room.

Standing at just 5-foot-11, Davenport is on the smaller side for front court players, but her board-gobbling knack has turned her into a double-double machine, the BIG EAST conference’s second-leading rebounder (Davenport’s 9.9 rebounds per game is behind only Butler’s 6-foot-1 Teri Scheckel’s 11.0 boards per game), and Marquette’s small ball solution to a center less roster.

“She’s one of the most athletic players in the country. What she’s able to do with her size, the best word I can use to describe her is relentless,” head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “She pursues the basketball like nobody else. If there’s a rebound to be had, she’s gonna go get it.”

Kieger and the sophomore forward discussed the importance of rebounding before the season’s start, with the coach challenging her player to average a double-double each game. Seven games into the season, it seems Davenport has taken the task to heart.

Through the year’s first four games, Davenport notched 10 or more rebounds. During that stretch, she also averaged 16.5 points per game, helping her add a BIG EAST Player of the Week Award to her resume.

It wasn’t until the team’s first loss of the season to Santa Clara that she failed to reach the double-digit mark, though she came up just short with nine on the night. Immediately after that, she pulled down ten boards in a game against Pacific, with six of those stemming from the offensive glass.

As a freshman last year, Davenport was hardly the heat seeking missed-shot missile she is now, managing to find only 6.8 boards per game. With a year of college paced ball under her belt and a thorough understanding of Kieger’s system, Davenport said she has the confidence and motor to make a big difference on the court.

“I just locate the ball. If they shoot on one side of the court, it’s likely gonna fall on the other side,” Davenport said. “I’m just being more aggressive … hunting the rebounds and just going to get it.”

Her development didn’t surprise her coach either, who saw clear improvements last year as the season progressed. Davenport’s supposed leap in ability is just the forward picking up from where she left off.

“I think at the end of last year she really started coming into her own,” Kieger said, arguing her player deserved All-Freshman team honors. “She really started understanding the offense and understanding what we were looking for. The biggest thing was just how hard she needed to work every possession. Once she’s captured that, if she works as hard as she can every possession she’s unstoppable.”

The relentless work ethic, Kieger said, is just part of what makes for the Davenport rebounding machine. Matching the motor with her slick athleticism and film room smarts, Davenport evolved into a player her coach said demands Dennis Rodman comparisons.

Her impressive play has also turned her into one of the team’s star players, though she denies any potential catchings stardom.

“I have a high confidence level. But I don’t want it to get too high,” Davenport said. “I make sure I’m a team player, making sure I do what my team needs me to do to win games.”

Her best plays, after all, rarely make the highlight reel.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *