As the team’s floor general, a point guard has to have not only talent, but a high level of maturity and intelligence as well.
For the women’s basketball team, the job that freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons has done while stepping into the role of starting point guard has been nothing short of remarkable.
While Cornell’s leading scorers like fellow freshman Jeomi Maduka and sophomore Lindsay Krasna receive much praise for their point production, Fitzsimmons has emerged as the key set-up person for those players.
Leading the team with 65 total assists, the West Virginia native is third on the team with 26.8 minutes per game and has started all but one of the contests in which she has appeared.
Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons has also emerged as one of the Red’s top 3-point shooters, connecting on an impressive 40 percent of her attempts beyond the arc. Overall, she is Cornell’s fourth leading scorer, averaging 8.3 points per game.
Fitzsimmons’ deadly accuracy from 3-point range was most recently on display in the Red’s 56-54, comeback win against Penn last Saturday. Down by as many as 10 points early in the second-half, Fitzsimmons completed the rally when she nailed a trey to put Cornell ahead 46-45 with just 6:33 to play.
The Quakers, however, came right back to go on top, 49-46, with under three minutes to play before Fitzsimmons struck again. Off a feed from classmate Shannon Scarsaletta, she knocked down another 3-point field goal to knot the score with 2:29 to play.
Not done yet, Fitzsimmons grabbed a defensive rebound 23 seconds later at the other end of the court to set up the Red’s go-ahead score on its next possession.
Even back in high school, Fitzsimmons was no stranger to pressure. A four-year starter, she led her Wheeling Central Catholic High School team to three appearances in the state championship game, bringing home the title in 2004.
A first-team all-state, all-valley and all-league selection, Fitzsimmons averaged 21.7 points her senior year en route to becoming her school’s all-time leading scorer.
The 5-5 hotelie, however, has still yet to hit her maximum potential. Earlier in the season, she experienced some growing pains as she adjusted to the college game. Protecting the ball has been one of her biggest trouble spots, as she leads the team with 72 turnovers and had 13 of them in a loss at Texas Christian earlier in the season.
Nevertheless, she has shown steady improvement throughout the season. Prior to Ivy League play, which began in mid-January, Fitzsimmons averaged 4.15 turnovers per game. Since then, she has only committed 2.25 turnovers per contest in eight appearances.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer