Tonya Schnibbe’s basketball game at Eastern Washington on Thursday night could become more than just a homecoming game for the former University Titan.
With eight assists, the 5-foot-6 Weber State junior will break the Wildcats’ single season record of 168. It could happen, considering her average is 7.32 helpers a game.
Those kinds of numbers are big, as in among-national-leaders big.
Schnibbe is fourth, which surprised her when she found out.
“I’ve never liked being center of attention,” she said. “I like being a role player, the one people don’t know unless they know basketball. … I really didn’t even know about it until a teammate just told me. There are a couple of others at the top as well.”
Schnibbe was referring to a local player, Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot (7.4, third) and Portland State’s Claire Faucher (6.6, sixth).
Her response was typical of a true point guard, who is trying to break out of the pass-first mentality she developed as a Titan.
“As a freshman the coaches wanted me to be a scoring point guard, but I was never that in high school,” she said. “Playing with Angie and Jami (Bjorklund), that wasn’t needed. It’s been difficult. … I’m maturing as a player.”
Schnibbe is adjusting to the new role, averaging a team-high 13.3 points, though her shooting hasn’t been consistent.
“I’m getting more confident as the year goes on,” she said. “I put in quite a bit of time, but practice makes perfect. I have to continue to work on it, see what works best for me, what gets more positive results.”
As a freshman, Schnibbe played in all 31 games for the Wildcats and had almost as many assists (42) as points (57). She became a starter as a sophomore and piled up 156 assists in 28 games, second on Weber State’s single-season list, while averaging 6.7 points.
Once she breaks the season assist mark, she’ll be about 100 shy of the career record (468). She is getting close to Weber State’s top-10 list for career steals with 121. She had seven steals at EWU last year, tying the single-game record.
“I love playing at Eastern,” she said. “It doesn’t put more pressure on me. It’s more exciting. I love having my family around, my friends. It makes it more fun to be playing.”
It’s one of the rare times she isn’t hesitant to step into the spotlight.
After upsetting Gonzaga on Sunday afternoon, Portland coach Jim Sollars may have been being gracious or pumping up his team, but he just couldn’t say enough things about the Bulldogs.
“I really think this is the best team they’ve ever had, because they have the three best players in the league,” Sollars said. “Between (Courtney) Vandersloot and (Heather) Bowman it’s a coin flip, and (Vivian) Friesen is certainly the third-best player in the league.”
He also pointed out the Zags waltzed through the first half of league play without top 3-pointer shooter Tiffany Shives (season-ending knee injury) and senior defensive ace Jami Schaefer. Schaefer played for the first time after missing nine games with a knee injury, playing 19 minutes, 15 in the second half.
Sophomore Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) had a front-row seat for all the festivities after scoring 19 points in Tennessee’s romp past Georgia last Thursday, the 1,000th win for Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt.
“It was an amazing experience and honor to be part of such a big milestone,” said Bjorklund, who moved into 10th on UT’s 3-point list in the next game with her 105th. “I’m lucky to be playing for such a great coach who has been this successful.”
The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Pink Zone, an effort to raise breast cancer awareness, is the next two weekends across the country, when fans are encouraged to wear pink to designated games. Locally, the “Live Pink” games are Friday at Idaho, Saturday afternoon at Gonzaga and Eastern Washington and Feb. 22 at Washington State.
Eastern has its final home games of the season and will honor seniors Amy Bratvold and Morgan Rulon on Saturday. … Former Idaho coach Mike Divilbiss is an assistant a Wisconsin-Green Bay, 19-3 overall and 11-0 in the Horizon League. … Rebecca Gimeno (St. George’s), a senior at Concordia in Portland, was the Cascade Collegiate Conference Player of the Week, after scoring 40 points in two wins, including 84-73 over ninth-ranked College of Idaho. The Cavaliers are 22-2 and ranked ninth in the NAIA poll, the highest in school history. Gimeno, a 5-4 guard, leads the team in scoring at 11.6 points a game. Her twin sister, Angela, adds 10.1 a game.