Willemain plays it smart on court Quick learner: The Poly senior, who has a 3.8 GPA, has become a top center after only four years of playing basketball.

January 28, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Poly's Lindsay Willemain has played less than four years of basketball, but she might have some trouble convincing the opposition of that.

With performances like last week's 16-point, 15-rebound effort against Mercy and Thursday's 16-point, 11-rebound contribution at Douglass, the 6-foot senior center demonstrates instincts that usually take much longer to develop.

"With her moves around the basket, she doesn't seem like someone who's only been playing basketball a few years," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion.

"She knows where she is. She knows where the basket is -- whether it's faking, whether it's drop-stepping, whether it's going up strong aggressively and then being in a good position to get the offensive rebound. She was killing us on the offensive boards, just being very physical and aggressive and going right back up without hesitation."

Willemain has been a quick study on the court, which comes as no surprise because she is also a quick study in the classroom. Carrying a 3.8 grade-point average in Poly's top-level A course, Willemain scored 1390 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

While many of her teammates played pickup games and joined recreation leagues in elementary school, Willemain hit the books. Her Mount Washington neighborhood had no basketball court, so she never played even though her twin stepbrothers, Stephen and Stefan Dorsey, were standouts at Cardinal Gibbons in the early '80s.

Eventually, they and her father convinced her to try basketball, but it took her a while to enjoy it.

"When I started playing rec league in eighth grade, I didn't even go all the time," she said. "My brothers and my father were telling me I had talent. I didn't believe them, but they said I would get better."

They were right.

"Last year, she really started to realize how much she could do," said Poly coach Charlie Sullivan. "She went to camp and learned some things. Her individual offensive moves have really improved. She tries to use everything she has. She's always looking to improve."

Willemain, who plays AAU ball with Free Play, looked impressive at Poly's holiday tournament. She scored 13 and had 16 rebounds in the 58-43 title-game victory over Milford Mill and earned All-Tournament Team honors for the second straight year.

"She tends to have big games when we play big teams," said teammate Kendall Peace. "When we really need to win or when the people on the perimeter struggle, she's there. We talk and help each other out. She's always open to criticism."

Willemain averages 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds on a 12th-ranked 8-2 team boasting three others -- Peace, Kelly Logan and Jawai Maith -- scoring in double figures. With that trio's strength on the perimeter, Willemain's dominance inside helps diversify the Engineers' game.

"One of the things that doesn't show up in the numbers that's important is that she opens up other people," said Sullivan. "Her numbers could be better, but people feel they have to keep her out so that leaves other openings and Lindsay will go to them."

With her rare combination of athletic ability, work ethic and academic excellence, Willemain has drawn attention from some local college coaches, but she finds the interest shown by a New York City school particularly intriguing. As a potential business major, Willemain knows the city offers countless opportunities for internships to help build her career.

Sullivan, also Willemain's calculus teacher, is not surprised that she puts educational opportunities first.

"The thing about Lindsay is her intelligence factor," he said. "She's got a lot of doors that can open that way. I don't mean to say she doesn't work hard [at basketball], because she does, but she has a lot of other things going for her. I don't think she knows how good a player she is."

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