As a sophomore, Chase specializes in versatility Guard has played 4 positions for Terps

February 05, 1996|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

For someone who has so many decisions to make during a game, it's a good thing that Sonia Chase makes so many good ones.

Chase, a sophomore mainstay of the Maryland women's basketball team, can be found at any one of three, and sometimes, four positions on the floor and can shoot equally well with either hand.

Chase has spent most of her two Maryland seasons playing the position where good choices are a must, point guard.

The former McDonogh star has adapted well to playing a demanding new position at the collegiate level against some of the best competition in her sport, although there still are things Chase needs to learn.

"Because of my inexperience, I'm sometimes inconsistent in the role that a point guard should play," said Chase, whose team will play No. 12 Duke tonight at College Park. "That's not to say I'm not aware of what a point guard should do. I just fail to execute like a natural point guard would be able to do."

There are two pretty good explanations why Chase, 5 feet 11, doesn't always behave as a point guard. One is that it's not a position she played exclusively in high school, where she was a two-time All-Metro selection.

The other is that at times this season and last, she has played shooting guard and small forward, and in Wednesday's loss to Wake Forest, Chase played some power forward, leading to a sort of basketball split personality.

"I feel like I'm more of a distributor when I'm playing the point guard position, trying to get the ball to the shooters," said Chase, Maryland's fifth-leading scorer at 8.4 points a game. "I consider myself, and my coaches do, too, a scorer rather than a shooter."

Though she has led the team twice this season in scoring, shooting is where Chase has struggled. She is hitting only 39 percent of her shots from the field, after shooting 37 percent last season.

While her shot develops, Chase has created offense from her defense by clogging the passing lanes and forcing steals.

She leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in steals with 3.3 per game, including eight against Howard, one short of the Maryland single-game record.

"It's a one-second thing: Either you have it or you don't," Chase said. "When you don't, that results in a foul most of the time, and when you have it, it results in two points."

Chase credits graduate assistant coach Katrina Colleton for helping her adapt to the many roles she has to play in any game.

Like Chase, Colleton, a former Maryland player, played three perimeter positions during a successful Terps career that included second-team All-ACC honors in her senior season, when she led the team in assists and was third in scoring.

Colleton is working with Chase and freshman Kelley Gibson during practices to hone their versatility. Her efforts are appreciated.

"She's out there sweating just as hard as we are, trying to make us better. I really appreciate that. That really motivates me," Chase said. "She's my idol, and I would try to emulate and mimic her, especially her attitude. That's why she was the player she was. She had a great attitude, and she's a great person."

Said Colleton, who is pleased with Chase's development: "That [the compliment] was nice, considering all the trash I talk to her. When I was a sophomore, it wasn't like I was getting all that much playing time, so it wasn't like all my flaws were exposed. I had a cushion. I wasn't as depended on as she is with this team."

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