Smith shows off for Western

March 08, 1995|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

Although top-ranked Western has won the majority of its games by wide margins, spectators never have to worry about losing interest as long as Kimberly Smith is on the court.

The flashy 5-foot-9 senior guard is an animated dynamo of constant motion with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

Smith and All-American Chanel Wright form the area's best offensive combination, although Wright's unassuming demeanor and quiet leadership are a sharp contrast to Smith's outgoing personality.

There is nothing subtle about Smith's style, whether she's blowing past the defense with her blinding speed; nonchalantly swishing a three-pointer; making a no-look, behind-the-back pass; leaping within arm's reach of the rim to snare a rebound; or keeping a ball in play that was headed out of bounds and having her momentum carry her off the court and halfway up the bleachers.

Smith is more than one of the area's top girls basketball players.

She's an entertainer.

"The bigger the crowd, the more she likes to put on a show," Western coach Breezy Bishop said. "It's not cockiness, it's the gamesmanship in her. She's just incredible."

Said Smith: "I like to have fun. Sometimes I play to the crowd. As long as I'm pleasing myself, I feel like other people will be pleased."

Smith -- who averages 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 4.5 steals -- will take her act to UMBC tomorrow, where the defending Class 4A state champion Doves (24-0) will meet Oxon Hill in a state semifinal game at 5 p.m.

Although Smith's slick moves thrill the spectators, Bishop has said that Smith has been the cause of several of her gray hairs.

"What has pleased me is that she's maturing," Bishop said. "Kim is an electrifying player and she came in as a freshman with considerable talent. My job is to move her game to the next level.

"I must have thrown her out of practice six or seven times as a freshman. Then it was five or six times when she was a sophomore, then three or four as a junior. Her senior year it's only been twice, and the last time was before Christmas. She and I are on the same page now."

With the confidence that Smith exudes on the court, it's hard to believe that she was once criticized for not shooting enough when she was playing in recreation leagues.

Smith -- who signed early with Georgetown -- began playing basketball at age 8, but because she was shorter than most of the other girls, she hesitated to shoot.

Therefore, she worked to hone her passing and ball-handling skills. Before long, Smith was dribbling between her legs and making passes through the narrowest of lanes.

It wasn't until Smith came to Western that she became confident in her shot. With the help of Bishop and former Western assistant coach Herb Simon, Smith has developed into one of the area's more accurate outside shooters.

Smith, who is shooting 42 percent (36-for-86) from three-point range this season, is Western's all-time leader in three-pointers (114-for-220, 52 percent).

It is because of Smith's outside shooting as well as her ability to penetrate that prompted a move from point guard to shooting guard.

"Moving to the two position will give her more freedom," Bishop said. "I do allow her to create."

It's a role that Smith has come to enjoy.

"She is always coming up to me in practice to show me a new move," Bishop said.

There's one shot that Smith hasn't perfected yet -- the hook shot, which was Bishop's specialty in her playing days.

"She's in awe that I have a hook shot and she doesn't," Bishop said. "I've tried to get her to learn it but she hasn't tried it in a game yet. Maybe she will on Thursday, and if she does, it will bring the house down."

Smith usually does.

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