The word's out on Houck: Notre Dame star can play

December 18, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

A couple of words quickly come to mind when talking about College of Notre Dame basketball star Toyah Houck -- the first being consistency.

The Westminster High grad has been a model of it since her freshman year for fourth-year coach Tim Engle.

It has come to the point where last Thursday's 22-point, 23-rebound effort in a 58-42 win against Goucher was just another solid game from the 5-foot-10 junior center.

"No doubt in the scouting report on our team, the first two words out of any coach's mouth is Toyah Houck," Engle said.

The second word that comes to mind would be a toss-up between scoring and rebounding.

She's 142 points away from her 1,000th career point -- and will be the first at the school to top the figure since the formerly unaffiliated program moved up to Division III in 1988. Only a handful of players have topped 1,000 points in the school's history.

In her freshman campaign, her 13.6 rebounds per game was among tops in NCAA Division III.

"I love rebounding," Houck said. "Most of the time I'm going up against a taller player so positioning is important. I usually can spin around [opponents] and read where the ball is going."

As for scoring, Houck's average has improved every year. After finishing second on the team her freshman year, averaging 15.3 points, she led the team last season with 16.8 and is doing it again this season with a 19-point average.

In the team's first eight games this season, Houck has been the leading scorer in seven.

"She's meant a lot to the program and it's not just the numbers, but what it takes to get those numbers," Engle said.

"She just works very hard in practice and is very competitive. She's not always the tallest or quickest player out on the court, but gives her all and is a very intelligent player."

Most of Houck's points come from inside the paint.

She likes to stay at the low post and says most of her offensive rebounding comes from the weak side, but the team also runs a lot of screens to free her up from almost constant double-teams.

"She's improved her outside game some since when she first came here from high school, but is still much more comfortable inside," Engle said.

"She can score with both hands and has a lot of moves in close. She also gets a lot of points off put backs."

Despite Houck's inside presence, Notre Dame has struggled to a 2-6 record this season as the team heads to the holiday break. With a hefty home schedule remaining, Houck is hoping the team gets to the .500 mark and builds for next season.

The communication major was joined by point guard Karyn Murphy and small forward Debby Pearson in Engle's first recruiting year, which was without question his best.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to carry over that win [against Goucher] into the rest of the season," Houck said.

"I really think we'll start clicking this season. One thing's for sure, it's going to be fun and that far outweighs anything else."

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