In collegiate basketball, it is not often that a freshman can step up to the pressure of being the go-to player for her team.
However, it is even more rare when that same player possesses the character to take a step out of the spotlight a year later to help improve her team.
Thankfully for the women’s basketball team, sophomore Lindsay Krasna’s attitude toward making this transition has had much to do with its vast improvement from a year ago.
As a rookie, Krasna seemingly did everything for the Red. The team leader in points at 12.3 per game, the 5-10 guard led all Ivy freshmen in that category along with rebounds, assists and steals. Furthermore, she was almost automatic from the charity stripe, converting a league-best and Cornell single-season record 87.1 percent of her free throws.
“I knew that all our starters from the year before had graduated and I would have the opportunity to contribute right away,” Krasna said. “Individually, though, I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to contribute like that.”
Needless to say, Krasna was waist-deep in individual awards after such an incredible first season in the collegiate ranks. A seven-time winner of the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Week honor, she also gained a unanimous selection to the Ivy All-Rookie team – just the fifth Cornell player to make that squad.
Nevertheless, as much as Krasna achieved in that year, very little of it mattered when compared to the Red’s dismal 3-24 season and disappointing 1-13 Ivy showing.
This season, however, the Red (7-14, 4-4 Ivy) has turned around its fortunes, and it has had much to do with Krasna’s maturity in supporting Cornell’s new offensive scheme.
“We are a much more balanced team now,” Krasna said. “It really shows in our record.”
Sporting an extremely strong freshman class this season, especially with 6-2 forward Jeomi Maduka, the Red has become much more focused on working the ball inside. With this approach, Maduka has had a breakout year while leading the team with 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
“[Maduka] has definitely helped us become more balanced,” Krasna said. “She is a force inside.”
At the same time, as Cornell has come to rely less on its outside shooting, Krasna has gladly seen a dip in her own offensive numbers, knowing that the team is reaping the benefits of the new strategy.
“It makes us a lot more dangerous,” Krasna said.
Averaging 65.0 points per game, the Red has scored over 11 points more per contest than last year’s squad.
Meanwhile, Krasna has averaged 10.5 points per game – almost a 2-point drop from a year ago – while attempting about two fewer field goal attempts each contest.
“I’m still a scorer, but it may not come to me as much. I had to make a lot of my shots last year. This year, it’s helped a lot that we’re more balanced,” Krasna said.
Even with her offensive numbers slightly down, Krasna, who leads the team in minutes, has continued to show the poise that allowed to her to make such an impact as a freshman.
“I feel like I gained a lot of experience last year,” Krasna said. “I feel even more confident and comfortable on the floor.”
Most recently, as the fifth-place Red battle for position in the Ivy standings, Krasna has raised her game a few notches. The Pennsylvania native dropped a combined 40 points, including a career-high 25 against Yale, this past weekend against a pair of tough Ivy foes.
A few weeks before, Krasna helped preserve a 64-55 victory over Columbia, scoring eight of her 18 points over the last seven minutes while going 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. In fact, over the past five games, Krasna has shown incredible composure against the Ivy foes converting 28 of her last 29 free throws.
With plenty of skill and a team-oriented attitude, it is clear that Krasna is one of the key building blocks in the turnaround of the Cornell women’s basketball program.