Kosh Hopes to be the Driving Force for W. Cagers
Basketball's Heidi Kosh
You don't have to know anything about the women's basketball team to know who one of its leaders will be this season. Just watch the Crimson play.
Number 20 commands the court. You see her everywhere--blocking shots, going for the basket. You hear her voice rising above the play and into the rafters. You see her drive propelling her to do better, to work harder.
When you watch Heidi Kosh play, you almost forget that this is a season of transition for the women's basketball team.
Kosh is a veteran guard on a young team. With the loss of its leading scorers, the Crimson will look to Kosh to increase her scoring and to be a leader on the court and off. In addition, a knee injury has sidelined Kosh for much of the pre-season and threatens to be a burden during the regular season.
Questions about Kosh's new role and old knees and the young Harvard team invite realistic and optimistic answers.
The gap created by the loss of two starters would be enough to hinder a team from capturing a second-straight league title. But when the two starters, Sharon Hayes and Barbarann Keffer, were the top two scorers in Harvard women's basketball history, the task could be overwhelming.
Kosh has been asked to assume some of this task. She will step to the forefront as the point guard, a responsibility she shared with Keffer last year.
During the past two seasons, Kosh focused almost completely on defense. This year, she will focus more on scoring. "I'm ready to respond," Kosh says. "I'm ready to score if I need to score."
Kosh seems comfortable in her new role. It's just a matter of "switching around," Kosh says. "I have to get on ball with my shots."
The transition may even improve her game. "I think I'll become a lot more consistent," Kosh says. "Instead of looking to dish off, I'll set to shoot."
Kosh dismisses the question of her knees. She will not make excuses, nor will she let it affect her game. "My knees aren't the greatest, but I'll play through it."
Uncertainties face a young team. The players have to become familiar with each other and a new style of play. Kosh recognizes these problems, but she finds positive signs as well.
Because the team has "no inhibitions, we turn the ball over a lot," Kosh says. "If we continue to turn the ball over, we'll go to a slower paced game."
A certain hunger and spirit that distinguishes a young team can help minimize some of its weaknesses. "Everybody's equal. Everybody can contribute," Kosh says.
The focus of a young team has to be great. The players need a definite game plan layed out. "Last year, we could go to a lot of players," Kosh says. "This year, it's inside to Beth Chandler, outside to Sarah Duncan...or inside to Duncan."
The game plan may be set, but unfamiliarity looms over the team. "We know who we're going to, but we're inexperienced playing with each other, Kosh says.
What the team lacks in experience, Kosh helps make up with intensity. "Once I get on the floor, I have total concentration," Kosh says. "I concentrate on a person and play them tough."
Kosh not only plays with a heightened intensity but also with a heightened awareness. She is a thinking player's player. "I keep track of a lot of things--who's hot, the time, who's having a lot of trouble," Kosh says. "If someone is having a bad night...you let them know its O.K."
"If you establish a role, and you establish a relationship with people...they'll respond," Kosh adds.
Kosh has been playing basketball since she was six. She knows the ups and downs of the game, that sometimes the glass is half empty and sometimes it is half full. She thinks she may have even found the key to winning: capitalizing on the frustrations of the other team.
In a game last year against Maine, Harvard's defense confounded the opposing team. "You could see the frustration on their faces," Kosh says. "If you go to a player a few times and the player scores," a team becomes frustrated, or if you play a strong defense, one foul will lead to another.
For Kosh and the women's basketball team, intelligence may compensate for inexperience, and it may put any questions to rest.