No matter how high the recruiting class is ranked (6th in the nation, according to U.S. News), or how high a team is ranked in the polls (20th in the Associated Press, 22nd in USA Today) a team needs leaders to succeed. Last year, GW lost its top two leaders to graduation, floor general Kristeena Alexander and Petra Dubovcova.
This year, juniors Lindsey Davidson and Erica Lawrence, along with senior Elena Vishniakova, are looking to replace them in every sense of the word. Davidson, Lawrence and Vishniakova top the leader board in rebounds and points. What is most important for GW this year is they each played at least 30 games in the season for consistent impact.
Lawrence, a 6-foot forward from Nyack, N.Y., was the Colonial’s leading scorer last year both in points, with 13.6 on average, and total points, with 436. She put up these numbers consistently, playing 967 minutes (second on the team) and 30.2 minutes a game (second on the team). She was also the team’s third-leading free-throw shooter converting 74 percent and was third on the team in blocks (11) and rebounds (150) – an impressive feat for a small forward.
“She has a chance to be one of the premier players in the country,” head coach Joe McKeown said. “That’s her challenge.”
Vishniakova, a 6-foot-4 forward/center who started every game last season, put up team-leading numbers as a junior, averaging 25.8 minutes a game. Vishniakova was second on the team in scoring with 337 points, averaging 10.5 a game. Vishniakova was also the second-leading field-goal shooter, shooting .468 from the field. She posted big numbers on the defensive end as well, as the team’s second-leading rebounder (154). She also posted an impressive 22 blocks.
Davidson, a 5-foot-9 shooting guard, led the team in minutes played (971) averaging 30.3 minutes a game. She was third on the team in scoring, with 9.5 points a game and 303 total points. Davidson was second in assists (153) and had a team-leading .385 three-point percentage. Defensively, she led the team in steals with 52.
While their statistics speak for themselves, the leadership of this lethal trio goes far beyond box scores. The women display an exemplary work ethic and commitment, which has the younger players on the team admiring more than just their impressive offensive domination.
It’s a common occurrence to see Lawrence at practice gathering her teammates, psyching them up for the next play. It’s not uncommon to hear Davidson calling out instructions to a younger guard during practice so she gets the play right, or to see Vishniakova giving out high-fives before a water break to pump up the team.
McKeown said the younger players look up to these three for their teamwork, instruction and work ethic.
“They are a great group to look up to,” McKeown said.
The players take their roles as leaders very seriously and understand that they are now the ones the younger players look up to.
“My teammates know they can come to me about anything,” Lawrence said. “It’s my third year here, so I know the ropes. We are all here to pick each other up.”