November 9, 2007

Benson Prepares for Season Following Freshman Success

Print More

Lauren Benson took the Ivy League by storm during the second half of her rookie season, and she looks to follow suit this year. While she was used primarily off the bench at the beginning of her freshman year, Benson earned the starting point guard spot halfway through the season. She was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice. All of the positive feedback further encouraged her and made her into more of a force on the court.
“It definitely helped my game,” Benson said. “Any kind of support, whether it’s from outside the league, or even inside, definitely helps complement my game.”
One of eight guards on this year’s squad, Benson brings an intelligent, team-oriented mindset to the court. Last season she led the team with 2.7 assists per game, good for 10th in the Ivy League.
“Lauren is very competitive and has a lot of athleticism,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “She uses it to compete and goes full out especially on the defensive end and when she’s able to drive and create things on offense. She’s definitely a sparkplug.”
Benson started 15 of the team’s 27 contests including all of the Ivy League games. She won the Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice during her freshman campaign, once following a well-rounded performance against Columbia in which she totaled seven points, five rebounds and six assists. The other award came after a solid weekend against Princeton and Penn that saw Benson rack up 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Benson arrived at Cornell with a history of athletic success. She was a four-year varsity basketball player at her high school, Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill., and helped carry the team to four consecutive regional championships while setting the school record for assists. She also played varsity tennis and won a conference championship while being named to All-State third-team.
Even though she picked basketball over tennis because of the team atmosphere and intensity of basketball, Benson will admit that certain aspects of her tennis game made her into the basketball player that she is now.
“Tennis is a very mental sport so I feel like the mental strength carried over to bas­ketball,” Benson said. “Physically you have to have very quick feet, so I think a lot of my speed kind of stemmed from tennis.”
Benson took her winning ways from high school to Cornell and helped lead the women’s basketball team to its best Ivy League finish since 2001-02. She is one of four returning starters, which bodes well for this squad’s chances.
Benson might reap even more accolades this season after attending a camp oriented towards training point guards to be leaders and more intellectual players.
“I feel like it really helped with the intangible stuff,” Benson said. “As far as leading the team, being able to run an offense. They also taught a lot of fundamental stuff that you don’t realize how much it affected the game until you see it in film.”
“It was a very good learning experience,” Smith said. “They taught the point guards how to break down film, what a coach is looking for in a leader, how to lead in other ways besides the everyday encouragement, how to lead by example.”