Rimkus loves life on the edge Terps' shooter hits stride from outside

January 12, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's basketball team needed somebody new this season to shoot from the outside. The Terps found that somebody -- and they had to look no farther than near the basket.

Bonnie Rimkus, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, was moved out to the wings, and the move has paid off for Rimkus and Maryland.

"I've always had confidence in my shooting. I've always worked on my shooting, because that's all I've ever done: shoot, shoot, shoot," said Rimkus.

The Terps are ranked third in this week's Associated Press poll. Next to the steady play of seniors Jessie Hicks and Katrina Colleton, Rimkus' shooting and her new position -- small forward -- are big factors in that ranking.

Rimkus, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year award two seasons ago playing mostly down low against women closer to her size, has been able to go out to the perimeter to face players much smaller and quicker.

Rimkus, who is hitting 33 percent of her three-pointers, has accepted the challenge and become the Terps' biggest long-range shooting threat, averaging 12.5 points, third on the team, and also leading the team with 8.9 rebounds per game.

"I love playing outside, though everybody is smaller than me and a lot quicker. I have to work 100 times harder," said Rimkus.

On its face, playing a 6-4 woman out on the wings would be unusual, especially with Maryland's talented stable of guards.

But when point guard Limor Mizrachi remained in Israel this season, the Terps lost 32 of 42 three-pointers from last season, and were in need of a shooter to balance Hicks' inside power.

"We are entirely different than last year, but we've had to be, because, when Limor was unable to return, it made us make a change there, and when we make a change there, then we needed to make a change at another position," said Maryland coach Chris Weller.

Weller had a number of choices to make, but Rimkus, who had tried to sell the coach on shifting her out to the wings last summer, made the decision easy.

Rimkus popped her first career three-pointer in the 53-50 loss to Iowa in early December to help the Terps make a charge that ultimately fell short.

From there, her stock skyrocketed, with a 20-point effort against Old Dominion. Rimkus moved into the starting lineup, and had a career-high 30 points and 15 rebounds against Loyola, followed by a 17-point game in Maryland's 77-72 upset of then-No. 1 Tennessee, and 19 points and 11 rebounds in the 73-69 win over then-No. 8 Purdue.

"That gives us a lot of confidence, knowing that she's that big and can hit that shot," said Colleton. "That means that she can do a lot of things that a shorter person out there can't do. She can rebound, shoot over opponents. That confuses opponents. They don't know what to do and how to match up."

That Rimkus is a key part of the offense, indeed, at times, the key part, is also a surprise, given how far down on the Maryland bench she was last season, as the Terps climbed to the top of the women's polls for the first time in the program's history.

Rimkus could only muster 236 minutes and 102 points in 24 games last year, figures she has surpassed in just 10 games this season (274 minutes, 125 points).

"She probably felt like she wasn't contributing that much to the team," said Colleton. "For a great player like herself, that can be the lowest, when you feel as though you aren't helping the team become No. 1, that they're becoming No. 1 without you."

Weller said Rimkus missed last season's preseason workouts and never caught up, spending most of the year trying to shrug off nagging injuries that resulted from being out of condition.

Rimkus said she never considered transferring and won't discuss details of last season, preferring to focus on what's ahead.

"As far as I'm concerned, last year is done, it's in the past, it's over. I wish I could have been more active on the court, but they did well and I'm happy," said Rimkus. "We're doing really well so far this year, and I hope we'll keep going. I'm just excited about playing."

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