Hoop Dreams

Jamie Tanata

Jamie Tanata

SDSU’s junior forward Shannon Schlagel will be the 23rd woman in SDSU historyto score 1,000 points in her basketball career.

Schlagel was named North Central’s Conference Player of the Week last Monday.

She is the leading scorer for the Lady Jack’s averaging 17.7 field goal percentage points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

For Schlagel, reaching 1,000 points in her basketball career was something that was a goal only in the back of her mind.

“I think it’s neat,” she said about her achievement. “Having such great teammates has definitely helped me out with that.”

The team, however, is Schlagel’s most important focus more so than individual gain.

“Regardless of how many points scored, it’s more of a highlight to do well with the team,” she said.

Playing as the third scorer on the team last year as a sophomore, she has worked her way to leading the team this year.

“I kind of knew I had to step up and be a leader, that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” she said.

SDSU’s women’s head basketball coach Aaron Johnston said the one thing that sets Schlagel apart from other players is, “She’s a good inside and outside player and it’s hard for other players to match her up.”

Johnston said her experience of playing inside and outside in high school has helped her succeed on SDSU’s basketball court.

“Shannon plays a much more comfortable position now,” he said.

Her mom was a bit of influence on her basketball career as she coached from the start of her career in second grade up until sixth grade.

“My mom was a pretty important person in my life of basketball,” she said.

When she attended high school, her mom followed her as the assistant coach of Clark High School.

“My mom helped me out so much,” she said.

She managed to be named an All-Conference player in all her four years of high school and All-State her sophomore through senior year. Schlagel also scored her 1,000 points her junior year of high school.

Coming from the small rural town of Raymond, she grew up playing basketball with four other farm girls such as herself.

“I played with a solid group in high school and it has gotten even better in college,” she said.

Johnston was the one who recruited her out of high school.

“I felt Shannon would be a good fit,” he said. “The thing that excited our staff was that she was a local player, and fit the mold of an SDSU student.”

He said by having Schlagel play at SDSU also gave her family the opportunity to keep watching her play. Aside from that, he said she has done a great deal in getting involved in the community.

“She makes a difference for the young people that watch her play,” he said.

Schlagel says the team is her biggest role model.

“I view each and everyone on the team as a role model,” she said. “We’re behind each other 100 percent and we respect each other for putting as much into the program as each of us have.”

One individual goal she has set for herself this year is, “to become a better leader and come through for the bigger plays and step up for teammates that need help,” she said.

Schlagel’s plan in leading the team to their second North Central Conference Championship is to, “play the best to your abilities and whatever happens, happens in the end,” she said. “The national championship all has to do with the beginning of the season, now, and the conference.”

The crowning of the national championship last season she said, “happened in the past. It’s in the back of our minds, but we have to look to the future.”

Starting out the season though was a little shaky according to Schlagel.

“We weren’t really sure the first few practices,” she said. “Now we’ve really stepped up and are shooting for the highest goal, to win nationals.

“I would definitely say we have to go out and play how we know we can play,” she said.

With their undefeated season of 7-0, Schlagel says day-to-day the team is improving. “We hope to peak at the right time of the season,” she said.

Even with four returning starters and several second year players, one of the team’s weaknesses this year she said is their rebounding. “It hasn’t been the best this year,” she said. “It’s a pretty important state we look at and it’s not at the point where we want it.”

Johnston said, “It’s not easy to come back from a championship and play with the same mind set.” However he said, “I think this year’s team is further ahead than last year,” he said.

In regards to the team’s strengths and weaknesses he said, “they are less experienced on the inside but the offense executes a lot better this year.”

Given SDSU’s switch to Division I next year, this will be the Lady Jack’s last chance to recapture their championship title.

Schlagel says the team just has to play to the best of their abilities and, “go out and give it the last hoorah.”

She thinks the switch, however, has its cons but “are just improvements they are making to better SDSU even though I think they’re doing an unbelievable job now,” she said.

Johnston said the team isn’t really concerned of how the change will affect them. “The team has the ability to focus on what to do today, and not worry about tomorrow.”

Athletically, Johnston doesn’t think playing Division I will be an issue. He said playing Division I exhibition games in the past have really helped and proven the team’s ability to compete on such a level.

As for Schlagel’s future in basketball, “I would like to say playing basketball. If I was up for a WNBA draft, I would probably go for it,” she said with a laugh. “But probably not likely.”

She plans on graduating next year and hopes to pursue a business job with her business economic major somewhere in the Midwest.