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Women
IPFW vs. Denver
When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Radio: 1380 AM
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
IPFW senior Amanda Hyde, the two-time Summit League Player of the Year, is averaging 22 points on just 12.3 shots.
Summit League Tournament

Mastodons’ leaders put team first

Player of year Hyde learning sometimes she has to be selfish

– So here it was again: That look.

The pull-up jumper had spun away or scraped the rim or, doggone it, just didn’t go down. Didn’t go down the way they’re all supposed to go down.

Didn’t go down, obediently, the way every single shot in every single game on every single day would in Amanda Hyde’s perfect world.

And so, The Look. And over on the sideline, IPFW women’s basketball coach Chris Paul caught a glimpse of it and knew what was coming next.

“I’ve watched her long enough that I could see this look on her face,” Paul says looking back on a moment that was only a few days old. “It was, ‘I’m frustrated with myself. I should make every shot. Now I’m not going to shoot.’

“So I called her over. And I said, ‘Amanda, you’ve got to let it go, and you’ve got to shoot the basketball. You’ve got to at times be a little bit more selfish.’ ”

Hyde nodded. She’d heard this before, a zillion times maybe, and she knew he was right.

So she went back onto the floor, and, an hour or so later, walked away with the usual Hyde numbers: 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal. And IPFW had an 89-76 win over Omaha, its third straight.

Still …

Selfish? What’s that?

Four years along, you start with the numbers. You pretty much have to.

As she comes to the Summit League tournament with the Mastodons (15-13) opening against Denver (7-22) on Sunday and the last days of her career, Hyde has played 142 games for IPFW, and scored 2,240 points, and made 152 3-pointers.

She’s grabbed 637 rebounds and passed for 406 assists. She’s averaged 15.7 points, including 22 points per game this season.

None of those numbers unlock who she is, however.

The one that does: To average those 22 points, she’s taken just 12.3 shots per game. That’s an astoundingly low number for a team’s go-to option, and Hyde is demonstrably that.

She was named the Summit League Player of the Year for a second straight season Thursday and was named the conference player of the week five times this season.

Hyde, who is also a Capital One first-team Academic All-American, was joined on the All-Summit League first team by teammate Haley Seibert.

And she never asked for any of it.

In fact, when Paul came to her last season and told her this was her team now, … well, Hyde didn’t exactly back away from the implied leadership role, but she didn’t immediately embrace it, either. It would involve occasionally putting herself above the team, for one thing. And that was one thing she would never be comfortable with.

“I mean, basketball is a team game,” she says with the closest thing to annoyance you’ll ever get out of her. “You don’t win unless you’re surrounded by teammates who are willing to give you the ball and able to give you the ball. I can win every individual award that I want and if I go out there and play one versus five, I’m going to lose every game.”

It was an attitude that was drummed into her by her father, Brian, who played volleyball for IPFW coach Arnie Ball at Harding and later at Ball State. And it was no doubt reinforced in the family driveway in Findlay, Ohio, where Hyde learned a lot about humility from getting knocked around playing hoops with her two older brothers.

“(My dad) taught me to be humble and just to realize how blessed I’ve been, and to realize I’m never going to get where I am by myself,” Hyde says. “You’re always going to need some other people.”

And so the battle was joined: The Hyde who understood that she did need those other people versus the Hyde who was being asked occasionally to elevate herself above them for the good of everyone. It was a heck of a balancing act even for Hyde, who has a 3.97 GPA in mathematics.

“In high school I had been a leader, but it was more of a lead-by-example type,” Hyde says. “In college, it turned a little bit different because I had to become more vocal. I still struggle with that a little bit. But this year I feel very much more comfortable with it, because the girls respect what I say to them, and if I do get on them, it’s because I know how good they can be and that it’s just for the better of the whole team.”

Which gets back to the whole shots thing. Twelve a game is nothing for a player of Hyde’s caliber, but when you have the wealth of offensive options IPFW has this season in particular, maybe it’s the right number, too. For, you know, the better of the team.

“It’s just her nature,” Paul says. “She thinks she should make every shot, and if she misses, then she thinks somebody else has a better chance.”

Hyde, of course, gets that. Still, Paul sometimes finds it necessary to give her a shot requirement – not to limit her shots, mind you, but to expand them.

“We’ve had our battles over that,” Hyde says. “Sometimes I do fall into that trap where I think I’m taking too many shots.”

And then, of course, there are times like the other day, when Hyde had the 20-point game in the win over Omaha. Because after the discussion with Paul, she didn’t just go out and limit herself to her usual 12 shots. She took 13.

bensmith@jg.net

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