Nov. 14, 2011
By Jon Cooper
It’s amazing what a difference a year can make.
Last year, as a freshman, point guard Dawnn Maye didn’t have a leg to stand on as she tried to learn adjust to college life at Georgia Tech and Coach MaChelle Joseph’s rugged, pressure-defense-oriented system — at least not a healthy one. It was little wonder that she struggled.
Watching the 5-8 point guard race up the floor in Georgia Tech’s first two games of the 2011-12 season, both overwhelming victories — hard is about the last word that would come to mind.
“It feels real good. I’m not playing through any pain,” said Maye, who was named Georgia Tech Female Student-Athlete of the Week — joining Men’s Basketball point guard Mfon Udofia in a good week for point guards. “My legs are fine. I feel back to top shape. I’m playing to my best abilities. I just feel good playing out there.”
She looks as good as she feels as after two games, Maye is leading the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and has a team-high 11 field goals. That’s nice, although somewhat out of character for the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native and Dillard High School grad., who, given the choice, prefers and assist to a basket.
“I never looked to score myself,” she said. “I always wanted to make my teammates look better and I feel like that’s what my mindset has been growing up. If I can pass them the ball and they can score easily, that’s what I’m trying to do. I just put the ball in a position where they can score.”
The result is easy baskets and praise from Joseph.
“Dawnn Maye makes things look a little easier, we get easier baskets with her on the floor because she’s able to break down the defense and create shots with our players facing the basket,” she said. “They don’t have to make moves every time to score because she does such a great job of penetrating and kicking and finding people.”
Maye is sporting a 6:1 assists-to-turnovers ratio (12 assists to 2 turnovers) in Tech’s first two games and in last Sunday’s victory over Old Dominion, had 10 assists to go along with her 14 points, recording Tech’s first points-assists double-double since 2003.
“I didn’t know anything about that. This is my first time hearing anything about it,” she said with a laugh. “Coach Jo really pushes us to be smart and make the right decisions. That’s what I’ve worked on and that’s what I’ve gotten smarter at.
“I feel like that was one of my weaknesses last year,” she added. “I wasn’t really focused in on keeping the ball and not turning the ball over. So now that I know when and when not to score, when to push the ball and when not to push the ball, I know now what I have to do to eliminate my mistakes.”
Maye did a lot of work on a lot of things during the off-season. She did enough to stand out in eyes of her teammates.
“Summertime she was one of the hardest working players,” said center Sasha Goodlett, the only player with at least 10 shots who has a higher shooting percentage than Maye (.526 to .500). “All I saw all summer was Dawnn always getting shots up, going hard in our workouts. Pre-season was no different. Dawnn came out, worked hard, worked on her weaknesses. I feel like Dawnn is finally finding herself in this program and in this Georgia Tech defense. She has great vision. In transition there is no stopping her and her passes are unbelievable.”
Maye is enjoying free-wheeling, knowing that she has the supporting cast to finish.
“It feels really good to know that I always have Ty [Marshall] running the floor with me,” she said. “I can always pass the ball to her and I know if I kick the ball out to Me-Me [Walthour] she’s there to knock down the three. It’s good to know I can help my team in every aspect, passing the ball and also scoring when they need me to.
“I just want to help my team win games,” she continued. “I put my team goals before my goals. So my goals are my goals. Whatever my team needs me to do that’s what I’m here to do. If they need me to play the post, if that’s going to help us win games then I’m going to do that. I’m here for my team to help in every way.”