Floor leader Himes has heads-up game Basketball: From three-time state champ Old Mill to No. 2 Old Dominion, guard Stacy Himes has used court sense to keep her team ahead of the competition.

February 03, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Stacy Himes is asked how it feels to be starting for the No. 2-ranked women's basketball team in the country. She pauses only for a moment, then dishes out an answer as crisp and on the mark as one of her passes.

"It's unbelievable. I never could have predicted it," she says.

"There's really no other way to explain it."

There's really no reason Himes, Old Dominion's 5-foot-10 senior shooting guard, should feel any differently.

Winning three consecutive Class 4A state championships at Old Mill High School didn't bring a stampede of recruiters to her door. Being named All-Metro three times didn't bring a pile of scholarship offers. Being versatile, mature and unselfish didn't bring the security that comes from knowing where you'll spend the next four years of your life.

"I got a lot of letters; all high school juniors and seniors get letters," Himes said. "But no one seemed really, really interested."

Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry's interest grew after watching Himes play in an Amateur Athletic Union tournament in Virginia after her senior year. Larry was acting on the recommendation of then-assistant coach Anne Donovan, a three-time All-American and former Olympian who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

At the AAU tournament, they could look beyond Himes' high school stats -- the 9.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 4.0 steals she averaged as a senior while playing a variety of positions and about half of every game because of Old Mill's scoring balance and propensity for racing out to huge leads.

"We got on her very late because of seeing the numbers and not being too impressed. But watching her in AAU was the clincher," Larry said.

"Once you had the opportunity to watch Stacy, you could see statistics weren't all of her game. The intangibles are Stacy's game."

And Old Dominion became Himes' destiny once Larry contacted her about a week before Maryland coach Chris Weller.

Weller "told me straight out that she had another girl she wanted to bring in, that I was her second choice," said Himes, who committed to the Monarchs shortly before the signing period ended in mid-May of her senior year.

"I didn't have the stats that the All-Americans have. It wasn't all that confusing for me. I knew exactly why there wasn't much interest. But yes, I was starting to get worried."

Now, she's starting for a team that has climbed up the national rankings with 18 consecutive victories, and 19 overall, including an 83-66 upset of then-No. 1 Stanford on Dec. 17. There has been only one loss, by three points to North Carolina State in November.

"When I first came here, I was thinking, 'I'm going to work hard and do the best I can.' But I didn't expect it to be this huge," said Himes, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds as a reserve her first three seasons.

"My freshman year, I just wanted to fight for a spot. I learned every day from people on my team, and it's gotten me a starting job. I worked hard for it."

As usual, her value transcends her numbers. She was averaging 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 21.1 minutes going into VTC yesterday's game, but is an integral part of the team, Larry said.

"She's the coach on the floor. She knows the game as well as anybody I've had the privilege of coaching," Larry said.

"She's your typical blue-collar worker. She'll do whatever you need to win. She'll dive into the bleachers, she'll save an errant pass. And she's not somebody who has to be in the limelight. She's a very humble kid."

"She's like the mother figure," said sophomore guard Aubrey Eblin, Himes' roommate. "She genuinely cares about everyone on the team. She knows what to do and keeps everyone together."

Said Himes: "Someone once said, 'We have the best starting four in the nation.' It's just because I don't have the stats. But I'll get the job done."

Old Dominion's strength is its frontcourt, led by senior forward Clarisse Machanguana and junior center Nyree Roberts. Recognizing this, Himes has concentrated on getting the ball inside, collecting 59 assists and making only 28 turnovers going into yesterday's game. She also had committed just 11 fouls.

"Stacy gets the ball to the block as well as anyone we have on the perimeter," Larry said. "She sees the floor very well and sees the open person very well."

If only Himes could see more of her shots drop through the nets. Going into yesterday, she had made 28 of 75 attempts (37.3 percent) from the field, though she went 4-for-5 and hit a couple of three-pointers in last week's 84-51 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington.

"My shot is not happening right now, but I'm going to work hard on fixing that," said Himes, who played most of her minutes at point guard during a lopsided win over William and Mary on Jan. 12. "My defense, too. I'm not very quick, so I have to play smart."

These are minor adjustments for someone who, at one time, thought her immediate basketball future would be at the local community college.

"We were starting to wonder a little bit," said her father, Walt. "We felt like she had the skills to play Division I."

Said Pat Chance, Himes' coach at Old Mill: "Sometimes, good players slip through the cracks. A lot of people didn't see Stacy play, and maybe there were some things about her that other people didn't like. She might not be that flashy of a player, but she's very consistent with what she does.

"Stacy's role was as a very strong floor leader. Do everything on the floor and do it well. That's what she's doing now. A jack of all trades and master of none."

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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