Jordan missed record, not chance

January 29, 1995|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

If Kish Jordan had remained at Harrisonburg High in Virginia, she would have scored more points than anyone in school history -- even Ralph Sampson.

The Centennial senior has 1,722 career points. Had she scored them all at Harrisonburg, she already would be about 40 points ahead of the mark set by Sampson, who went on to the University of Virginia and the NBA.

But Jordan left home for personal reasons and moved here last fall to live with her aunt and uncle. At Centennial, she picked up right where she left off.

Her impressive skills, especially her strength inside, have made Jordan as big a force in Howard County as at Harrisonburg, where she led her team in scoring all three years and earned All-State honors twice. She now leads Howard County with 21.6 points per game.

That offensive strength -- and a 3.0 grade-point average -- made her one of James Madison's top recruits and she signed early.

"Physically, she's a powerful player," said Shelia Moorman, Madison's head coach for 13 years. "I've heard stories about her even as a young player coming into our gym here and holding her own against college players in pick-up games."

She scored 1,420 points at Harrisonburg and hit 1,000 early in her junior year. Her rebound total also is nearing 1,000. In Jordan's sophomore year, Harrisonburg finished 18-9 and third in the state.

"We did that on her back," said Harrisonburg coach Tim Meyers. "She carried us there and made some phenomenal finishes. She has a fundamental ability to be around the ball. She has those natural instincts, things you don't coach. She's a real gifted person all-around. We really miss her."

Now Jordan finds herself in a different kind of program, one that has not been competitive for a long time.

She arrived at Centennial at a good time, though, because the entire program is in transition under new coach Dave Greenberg. With no returning stars and most of the Eagles still learning the basics, Jordan did not risk stepping on anyone's toes. Her teammates welcomed her and with her easy-going personality, rTC she fit right in.

"She sets such a tone for the team," said Eagles captain Gina DiNisio. "We know how good she is and it makes everyone else work harder, and it's easier to work with someone that knows the game as well as Kish does."

Despite her big numbers, Jordan is no ball hog. An assist leader at Harrisonburg, Jordan sometimes can be a little too kind, said Greenberg.

"She's very unselfish, she's real humble and she worries about doing too much," said Greenberg. "In the meantime, her teammates are saying, 'Thank you, Kish. Do more.' "

In the past few weeks, Jordan has done more. She scored 33 in an upset of then-No. 15 Howard and, two nights later, came back with 31 against Atholton.

At the same time, the rest of the team is getting better as everyone begins to settle into Greenberg's system. The Eagles are 7-7, already a big improvement over 2-20 last season.

"It's not just Kish coming in and scoring points that's made us better. Her mere presence made us better," said Greenberg. "She takes some of the pressure off the other kids. They can be complementary players. They don't have to shoulder the load when they're not ready to shoulder the load yet."

Adjusting to a new school and a new team wasn't nearly as difficult for Jordan as adjusting to Greenberg's killer practices.

"At first, I thought I was going to die," said Jordan. "In Virginia, you do a drill and you rest and joke around a little bit. Up here, it's drill after drill after drill. Even when you're tired, you still have to go. Practice sometimes is harder than the games and I think that's what he wants, so in the games it won't be that hard for us to keep going."

Jordan said that while Greenberg's practices are demanding, they are what she needs because she does not want to sit on the bench as a college freshman.

There's little chance of that, said Moorman, who last guided James Madison to the NCAA tournament in 1991.

"Once in a while you sign a recruit you feel is a can't-miss, someone you're really counting on to make an impact on your program," Moorman said. "It's tough putting that kind of pressure on a freshman, but we're looking for Kish to be one of those players who comes in and makes an impact from the beginning."

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