Triton’s Anderson signs with Holy Cross

BOURBON — It’s not often that the coach of a rival conference team gives you a helping hand. But that seems to have been just what happened for Triton senior Shana Anderson.
When Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Aimee Niespodziany was on the lookout for guard prospects, New Prairie head coach Doug Matthys pointed her in the direction of repeat Northern State Conference-champion Triton’s backcourt. Niespodziany reached out to Lady Trojans coach Adam Heckaman for some tape, and when he obliged the Saints skipper found her next recruit in Anderson.
Anderson made it official last week when she signed on to play basketball at Holy Cross beginning in 2013-14.
“It’s actually a rather interesting situation because I actually know the New Prairie coach very well, and I was in a conversation with him and he said Triton has really nice guards,” Niespodziany said. “So I followed up with Coach Adam and he sent me some game tape and I thought ‘Oh, she’s a really nice player. She’d be a great asset to our program. She’s long, she has a nice shot, she can drive, she moves well without the ball.’ All the things that I look for in a player, and then after I talked to the coach, someone who’s a team player, somebody who’s a hard worker. Those are all characteristics that are hard to find.”
A four-year standout for Triton, Anderson is the girls basketball equivalent of a five-tool player.
She finished with a career total of 852 points collected while leading the Trojans in scoring both her sophomore and junior seasons. As a senior this past season, Anderson finished behind teammates Taylor Hatfield and Kylie Mason in total points, but her field goal percentage of over 43 percent was a team-best, and her scoring average of 13.8 points per game was second only to Hatfield’s 13.9.
In terms of scoring, Anderson can do the job in a number of different ways. At a rangy 5-foot-8, she can create off the dribble or pull up from beyond the arc — she knocked down nearly 39 percent of her 81 3-point attempts last season as one of several long range threats for Triton — and she also has the ability to create for her teammates, passing out 38 assists for the Trojans last year.
Defensively, Anderson’s lengthy frame helped create havoc at the top of Triton’s signature 1-3-1, and she finished the 2013-14 season with 56 steals and nine blocked shots. And she came down with 103 rebounds for a team-leading per game average of 5.72.
“She’s a big part of what we do offensively and defensively. She really geared our 1-3-1 traps with her length up there. Her athleticism and her ability to play the game are really going to translate well for her into the college game up there at Holy Cross,” said Heckaman.
“Night in, night out, she can shoot the ball. She handles the ball well. She knows her role. She’s unselfish. And I think that’s something that’s going to translate well. She’s going to be able to bring her defensive intensity and length, her ability to rebound and just being able to score when she’s needed to and being able to create for other players. I think those are all things that she’ll be able to do up at Holy Cross like she did here.”
Given her talents and the polish she already possesses, Niespodziany expects a short learning curve for Anderson.
“I think her shot is really going to help. Any more in college basketball or in basketball in general, you’ve got to have good shooters, and she has a nice shot. Defensively we play a lot of man-to-man defense, so her length I think will really help on the defensive end,” said Niespodziany. “I think as she starts understanding our philosophy, even early in her career, I can see her getting a lot of quality minutes and being a very active part of our success.”
While Anderson has been considering playing college ball for awhile now, her courtship with Holy College was a relatively brief one.
Niespodziany only became aware of Anderson about a month ago, and for her part, Anderson said she hadn’t been initially looking at the Saints. But she like the size and location of the small NAIA college and the match was finalized last Thursday.
“I invited her up to campus, and it was a pretty short process for us, honestly,” said Niespodziany. “We didn’t start until maybe about a month ago. It was really late in the game, and I was fortunate that she was still out there. We’re lucky to have her at Holy Cross, and I’m really looking forward to her career.”
“My head coach got ahold of me and said that Aimee was interested in me to come play up there. I hadn’t really thought about it at all until then,” said Anderson. “I went up there for a couple of open gyms, and I just really liked it. It’s only like 45 minutes away so it’s close to home, and it’s small. I really liked it. The girls were nice, and I think it’ll be a good fit for me. I actually have family up in South Bend, so they can come to my stuff. It’s only 45 minutes away from my parents so it’ll be easier for them, too. They can actually come watch me play.
“I’m just hoping to have another good four years there like I had here and finish out my career. I’ve learned a lot here. This has prepared me for the next level, so we’ll see.”