For Mount St. Mary's guard Amy Langville, missing an NCAA tournament is even more rare than throwing a bad pass or suffering through a prolonged shooting slump. It just doesn't happen.
And a victory at home tonight against St. Francis (Pa.) in the Northeast Conference tournament final will ensure that the 5-foot-8 junior's good fortune continues.
The top-seeded Mountaineers (21-7) are trying to capture their fourth consecutive NEC championship, and third straight automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It would be a natural progression for Langville, the former Archbishop Spalding sensation who has gotten used to an extended postseason schedule.
"One of my goals is to do it every year that I'm here," she said. "It's like something that makes the whole season worthwhile."
Langville started at point guard her first two seasons with the Mount, accumulating 221 assists and only 68 turnovers. Her scoring increased from 4.9 points a game as a freshman to 8.2, and she averaged more than four rebounds both years.
She also led the Mount in blocked shots last season and was named to the All-NEC second team despite missing nine games with mononucleosis.
Yet, given little choice, coach Bill Sheahan tampered with success.
The Mount lost much of its offense after last season, and not all of it was expected. Forward Heather Wable, the team's leading returning scorer, injured her knee during a pick-up game and was done for the year. In need of someone to "take on the load," Sheahan moved Langville to shooting guard.
He hasn't regretted the decision for an instant.
Langville's scoring average has risen to 15.6, and she still leads the Mount in assists (148) and steals (69) and ranks second in blocks and rebounds. She's keeping mistakes at a minimum with only 41 turnovers in 27 starts, and has been rewarded by being chosen the conference's Player of the Year.
"Whatever worked for the team was fine with me," said Langville, a mathematics major who also was the lone repeat selection to the GTE District 2 All-Academic basketball team with a 3.92 GPA. "Keisha [McCatty] did a great job last year when I was sick, so she deserved her time, too. It worked out better this way."
When Sheahan recruited Langville at Spalding, where she totaled more than 1,000 points and 500 assists during her four years as a starter, he liked her ability to "see the whole court." But he also knew she could do more at the Mount than just distribute the ball.
"We saw the potential to be a scorer because she had a very good step to the basket and the ability to change directions and either pull up and take the jumper or fade back and take it," he said. "If you get somebody who has athletic prowess and some smarts, you've got yourself a pretty good basketball player."
And one who yearns for another crack at the NCAA tournament.
"So far, she's batting 1.000," said Sheahan, whose team lost at Iowa and Alabama in its past two NCAA first-round games.