GIRLS BASKETBALL

Merrillville's Riana Todd 'hands' Pirates advantage

2014-02-03T21:00:00Z 2014-02-03T21:20:31Z Merrillville's Riana Todd 'hands' Pirates advantageHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com
February 03, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

Riana Todd is earning notice for her basketball skills.

What makes her great in the post for Merrillville, and what has garnered the attention of some local colleges, is a talent that comes from her other sport, volleyball.

"I'm a setter," Todd said. "My hand-work has always been good."

"The best thing about her is her ability to catch," Merrillville coach Amy Govert said. "A lot of players in the post don't have good hands. She can catch almost any pass, and she has been a pleasant surprise for us this year."

Inside the paint, Todd is averaging 8.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. She doesn't shoot much, but when she does, she makes it count. She's hitting 65.3 percent from the floor, a few points away from reaching the school record of 65.7 set by teammate Victoria Gaines in 2012.

"She always finds herself around the basket and in position," Govert said. "When teams try to double-team Victoria, she can get it inside to Riana. Obviously she's shooting extremely well, and besides that she's crashing the boards. A lot of her points come off of putbacks, and you need that kind of player."

Todd missed the bulk of last season for personal reasons, but when she asked to return for her senior year, she did so with a promise to continue her improvement.

"She asked if she had a chance of playing next year and you could tell by the look in her eyes that she wanted it," Govert said. "I said, 'show up every day in the summer,' and she worked hard, and was there every day and did everything we asked of her. She's showing now how much she wanted it."

Todd scored 20 points against Fort Wayne Northrop and 16 against Lowell. What she's most proud of is her improvement defensively.

"To me, offense is not the hard part of the game," Todd said. "My defense has been improving this year. Against Lowell, I feel like everything was there, my offense and my defense."

Though she favors volleyball as "her sport," if Todd plays in college, it will be on the basketball court. She has seen some local interest, and hopes to major in physical therapy.

"She hasn't even reached half of her potential yet," Govert said. "She's just going to get better if she chooses to continue playing. With her athletic ability — and she works hard, the drive is there — whatever she wants to do, she can do."

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