Basketball Preview: Despite different personas, guards mesh

It is a routine weekday practice for the GW women’s basketball team, but for the infrequent bystander, two players tend to stand out the most.

One dribbles up the court calling out the play, and while she is easily heard, she carries a quiet but solid presence about her that makes it clear who is running the show. Suddenly, she dishes off to a teammate making a cut to the free-throw line who puts the ball on the floor and makes a move to evade a defender before laying it up. A much flashier yet somehow modest aura surrounds this player who jogs back down the court with a bounce in her step.

These two players are none other than the dynamic duo who make up the Colonials’ backcourt: senior guards Kim Beck and Sarah-Jo Lawrence. Although the two players seem to blend flawlessly on the hardwood, there is a clear difference in their styles of play, not to mention their personalities.

Beck, the general on the floor, and Lawrence, the eye-catching jump shooter, approach the game in different ways, and they will be the first to admit it.

“I’m more vocal, and she’s more, ‘Watch me do it; this is how it’s done,'” Beck, a 2007 Associated Press honorable mention All-American, said. “She just has that natural skill about her. I might tell you how to do something, but with Sarah-Jo, it’s more like, ‘Give me the ball and I’ll show you how it’s done.'”

Referring to Beck as the “quarterback of the team,” Lawrence recognized the point guard’s qualities that make her the leader that she is.

“Kim is a very smart player and a visionary whereas I think I’m more of an athletic jump shooter who creates her own shot,” Lawrence said.

Sit in a room with the two players for 10 minutes and the differences in their personalities jump out as well. Head coach Joe McKeown pointed out that the differences in their demeanors ultimately balance each other out.

“Sarah-Jo is very emotional and outgoing. She wears everything on her sleeve,” he said. “Kim is more of a quiet floor leader who picks you apart and is more subtle about dissecting the other team and the way she goes about her business.”

Forward Whitney Allen, a four-year collegiate teammate of Beck and Lawrence, said that despite being total opposites on the court and in life, the two guards can be so exciting to watch that she sometimes catches herself staring.

“Kim thinks and focuses on every detail of the game, and Sarah-Jo just plays in the moment, and with the combination of players on the court, it works well,” she said. “(Kim) and Sarah-Jo often get the fast-break tips, and they’re really fun to watch.”

Lawrence pointed out that when she or Beck is having an off-shooting night, the other one is there to pick up the slack. Last year, in a come-from-behind win over Arizona, Beck was held to only four points while Lawrence scored 17 on 6-of-11 shooting.

“Ever since we were freshmen, we’ve been there for each other, and it’s something you see and realize that you have to pick the other person up,” Lawrence said. “We both know what needs to be done.”

As roommates during their freshman year, Beck and Lawrence quickly became acclimated to their differences and formed what Lawrence called a “sisterly bond.” Even their disparities in the kitchen seemed to complement each other.

“(Kim’s) a better cook than I am, but she can fry and I can bake, so she’s the dinner and I’m the dessert,” Lawrence said.

Beck recalled the first time she ever met her future partner-in-crime, which took place on the basketball court in perhaps the most appropriate setting: Smith Center.

“I had never seen (Lawrence) before, and she walked into the gym ready to play,” Beck said. “I hadn’t touched a basketball in a little while at that point, and I remember she just killed me that first day. She just blew right by me the first couple of times.”

Both guards credited much of their success together to having played alongside one another for so long, learning the ins and outs of each other’s games and forming a bond of trust.

“I know that if I pass her the ball she’s going to knock it down, and she knows that I’m going to get her the ball in the right spot,” Beck said.

But with all their differences, they both share a common goal for this season: a Final Four appearance in Tampa Bay, Fla.

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