For the Seton Hall women’s basketball team, Ka-Deidre Simmons and Daisha Simmons were crucial guards during last year’s historic NCAA Tournament season.
With the two Simmons graduated and gone, transfer grad student Shakena Richardson steps in looking to provide leadership and solid play from the point for the Hall.
This is the third and final stop for Richardson in her collegiate basketball career after playing at Rutgers and Florida State for two seasons each.
Last year with the Seminoles, the Neptune, N.J. native averaged 2.6 assists in 11.7 minutes per game off the bench and led the team with a 1.64 assist-to-turnover ratio.
With the Pirates, she is looking to fit into a more expanded role.
“At Florida State, we were mostly post-oriented and now we (at Se- ton Hall) are more guard-oriented,” Richardson said. “It has been a difficult transition for me, but it is coming around. I like it more because coming off of ball screens is more exciting for me.”
In her first appearance in a Pirate uniform, Richardson had nine points and five assists in the 71-47 exhibition win over Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 7. It was her first chance to really experience her new role.
“I was really jittery and missed a few shots,” Richardson said. “I had to get into the fluidity of the offense with the ball and it started to come along a little better.”
Head coach Tony Bozzella was happy with what he saw from his team as a whole on Sunday and is starting to see the progress that Richardson has made during this transition.
“I think she is filling her role and really learning her role,” Bozzella said. “It is not easy, it is a brand new offense – her third offense in four or five years – so she is learning it and trying to get better.”
Richardson is going to be relied on as one of the main ball-handlers on the team as she makes sure the scorers are getting their share of opportunities.
One of those players is Seton Hall’s leading scorer from a season ago, Tabatha Richardson-Smith.
The Hall could have a prolific pairing on offense with Richardson being added to the fold.
“They do and that is Shakena,” Bozzella said talking about their great relationship. “Shakena has come in with no ego and said listen, ‘I am trying to get you comfortable with me, not me getting comfortable with you.’ That’s why she is a pro’s pro.”
Richardson has credited Bozzella with helping to make the shift easier and with the development of her game.
“He has been helpful because he knows I am not used to coming off of screens and having the freedom that I have,” Richardson said. “I get a lot of turnovers because of over-thinking. He has told me to slow down, ‘you can attack and you are the first option.’ This is my style of play and I will get back to it.”
The combination of ball movement and solid passing that Richardson can provide could lead the Pirates to having a solid offense once again this season.
Sean Saint Jacques can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @SSaintj7.