Hammond High grad prepares for last collegiate dance

2013-03-22T18:15:00Z 2013-03-23T04:52:04Z Hammond High grad prepares for last collegiate danceHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

Sancheon White's NCAA career has sped by so fast, she's into her second and final tournament with South Carolina and learning from the experience of last year.

Hammond High grad White and the No. 4-seed Gamecocks play No. 13 South Dakota State at 3:10 p.m. today in Boulder, Colo. Last year, South Carolina reached the Sweet 16 before falling to Stanford.

"This year, compared to last year, this year is a lot better," White said. "I have that year under my belt to know what the coaches expect and how they want us to play the game."

This is a season statistically that might surprise Hammond High fans who were used to seeing White score 17.5 points per game.

She's scoring 4.5 points with 4.0 rebounds per game this season.

She hit a skid in January, going three games without a point and scoring just 10 points total over a six-game stretch.

"The thing that people probably don't know is that I was struggling a little bit over six or seven games," White said. "It's not that I wasn't looking to score, but my shot was struggling. I was trying to find my shot back."

She said more time shooting over and over, and better execution helped return her continuity.

"It was a lot of focus and a lot of shots up in the gym," White said. "I spent at least 20 minutes extra each day in the gym getting extra shooting in and focusing more on what I'm doing right than what I'm doing wrong."

White kept her spot in the starting lineup, one of four players to start all 31 games this season. She said her role this year had changed as she was tabbed to defend an opponent's top guard.

She averaged 13.1 minutes per game last season, and improved that to 26.3 this season as she focused on defense.

"The expectations are different, but it doesn't change how I play at all," White said. "They're different from high school and different from Juco, because I'm not relied on to score as much. We have people who score, so I go in and take my role and do what's expected of me. This year, I'm counted on to be a defensive stopper, so I took that and grew from it."

The Gamecocks aren't in the path of Stanford this season, instead if they reach the Sweet Sixteen, they are on path to face No. 1 seeded Notre Dame.

"From last year, we learned that you have to take every game in the tournament one at a tame," White said. "There are no teams that you can take lightly. You have to take ever game one at a time."

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