Role’n! Role’n! Role’n!
Chanin Scott good coming off the bench, great sparking team on the court
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Chanin Scott knows it’s not where you start but where you finish.
For her purposes, it’s not where she starts but where the team finishes.
“I’m a competitor so whether I start or don’t start, I’m going to compete,” said the 6-0 junior guard from Charlotte, N.C. “What’s important to me is the end game. How we finish the game. Coach (MaChelle Joseph) asked me to play this role. I trust her wholeheartedly. What she wants is what I know can help us win. So I’m here to play my role.”
Scott, who has played both roles in her two-plus seasons on The Flats, is playing her role off the bench to perfection this season. After nine games, the super-athletic, multi-talented guard is averaging 8.6 points (fifth on the team), while shooting 54.2 percent (second only to forward Elizabeth Dixon), with 12 steals (fifth), despite playing only 17.0 minutes (seventh).
Putting up starter’s numbers in way fewer than starter’s minutes — center Lorela Cubaj’s 24.6 mpg is the closest starter minutes-wise to Scott — has kind of made her an honorary starter.
“Chanin could easily be starting for us,” said Joseph. “We actually have six starters. Chanin has embraced her role! She knows what her team needs from her and she has been willing to lose herself to the team.”
Her willingness to lose herself has been a major factor in the Jackets’ unwillingness to lose on the floor. They’ve only done so twice in their first nine games, hard-fought losses at then-RV Houston, in double-overtime, and at No. 7 Maryland. Scott has used those losses as learning experiences and believes the team has as well.
“Those games are where we had the most adversity,” she said. “Adversity not only reveals character, but it also gives you that confidence to say that you can do something.”
Scott is showing she can do anything with her seamless transition to coming off the bench. Despite coming into this season with 31 career starts, 22 of them last season, she isn’t losing any sleep over her new role.
If anyone’s losing sleep it’s opponents who have to plan for her and the second unit she’s leading. It’s a feisty five-some that includes guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, forwards Anne Francoise Diouf, D’asia Gregg and Daijah Jefferson. They’re big (in addition to Scott, Gregg and Jefferson stand 6-2 and Diouf is 6-4), and strong (Lahtinen is 5-7, but a powerful 5-7). All five can run the floor, bring plenty of length, athleticism, and a nose for the ball. They’re in attack mode from the time they hit the floor to the moment they leave it.
“Our main focus is defense,” said Scott, who has 12 steals on the season, fifth on the team and second in the second unit (five behind Lahtinen), each of whom has at least two steals. “When we come in we especially focus on getting stops, getting deflections, getting run-outs. To start off defensive minded makes us more aggressive coming out because we play hard on the traps and get in the passing lanes.”
That second team has become a very tight unit unto themselves in what is already a tight-knit team.
“In practice, the second team is the team that we practice with,” she said. “So we’re all really comfortable playing with each other and we know what each other can do. There’s a camaraderie with us. It’s like a team within a team.”
While defense is Scott’s top priority, she’s also taking care of business on the offensive end.
Chanin sat the Jackets’ first two games while in the final stages of recovery from a back injury suffered during the summer. After shaking off the rust in her first two appearances, shooting .333 (6-for-18) in wins over Western Carolina and Georgia, she’s been on fire over the past five, converting at 66.7 percent (20-for-30), putting her at her current .542 (26-for-48) for the season. In wins at Georgia State and vs. Alabama State she’s shot a sizzling .765 (13-for-17).
“I think I have improved a bit offensively. I think that comes from time playing. I’m a junior, I have experience,” she said. “Also it comes from an increase in confidence.”
She credits the second unit’s attacking and the turmoil and turnovers it causes opponents.
“Being able to play with players who get up and press on the perimeter, that way we can get deflections and run-outs and score,” she said. “I mostly score in transition. I’m able to do that more this year because we have people that are playing tougher defense on the perimeter.”
Scott also has been tougher to guard late in games. On Dec. 2, at Georgia State, she hit an electrifying reverse layup with 1:03 left, extending Tech’s lead to 74-64 and quieting a loud and enthusiastic crowd at GSU Sports Arena. Taking that shot was especially big, as the Panthers, like most Tech opponents, had put extra emphasis on go-to Francesca Pan.
“Something that I really wanted to do this year is to step up to help Pan because I know she has a lot of eyes on her and people really keying in on her and trying to take away her offensive game,” she said. “If I can do my part and step up offensively and be able to take the pressure off I’m happy to do that.”
Taking the shot against Georgia State wasn’t as big a surprise to Chanin as her taking that shot.
“Sometimes I surprise myself,” she said, with a laugh. “I do something that I never really practiced before. It’s just how I react in a situation athletically.”
Joseph likes the instincts Scott has shown in reacting to such big moments and her overall leadership by example.
“We have a very young team with two upperclassmen playing significant minutes,” Joseph said. “Chanin understands that she has to carry a big part of the offensive and defensive responsibilities.”
Scott is not shy about carrying those responsibilities and teaching the younger players. She knows she has the credibility to do so.
“I think being one of the most experienced players on the floor has really helped,” she said. “When I tell some of the younger players how to run a play or how to defend something, something like that, they have blind faith and they listen to what I have to say because I am a veteran and I’ve been here. It’s leadership on the floor to help the younger players.”
Scott, who took her last final on Thursday, is looking forward to the team’s final non-conference tests, beginning with Kennesaw State on Sunday at McCamish Pavilion. Then comes her third go-round in ACC play.
“I feel like everybody’s on the same page. We all know what we have to do. Everybody’s working together so that’s why I’m really excited for this year,” she said. “From the beginning, we have been talking about working toward the NCAA Tournament and what it can do for us to win big games and defend the home court and win on the road. We focus a lot in practice on situational plays and stuff.
“We have a lot of depth, we have a lot of people that can play multiple positions and we’re quick getting up and down the floor and we’re bigger,” she added. “We have really good size and length and we have a lot of athleticism. Everyone has the hunger to win and the desire to get to the NCAA Tournament. That’s what we work for every day.”