February 4, 2009

Scarselletta Has Become Red’s Top Scoring Threat

Print More

As the old cliché goes, it can be lonely at the top. For senior forward Shannan Scarselletta, it can be lonely down low as well.
On a team that is heavy on guard-play, and features only one other senior on the roster, Scarselletta has emerged this season as a natural leader because she not only provides a consistent presence at her position, but because she is also the only four-year player in the starting lineup.
“I knew I was going to have to be a go-to player, but I didn’t know I had to be the go-to player,” Scarselletta said. “This is a role I had to step into and be for my team.”
After losing forward Jeomi Maduka and her 14 points and eight rebounds per game in the beginning of the season, the Red frontcourt appeared significantly weakened from the squad that helped win an Ivy League title last season. Although Scarselletta had three years of playing experience, and was praised by head coach Dayna Smith coming into the season as one of the team’s most consistent players and solid on both ends of the court, Cornell was also without Moina Snyder — a solid rebounder in her playing days, who now joins Smith on the coaching staff.
Perhaps though, it should come to no surprise that, eventually, Scarselletta was to become more of a focal point on the team.[img_assist|nid=34720|title=Making the leap|desc=Senior forward Shannan Scarselletta (53) is leading the Red in scoring with 12.9 points per game.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
As a standout forward from Buffalo, N.Y., and having played the game for most of her childhood (she claims she first picked up a basketball in third grade, “mostly to meet boys”), Scarselletta remembers not only frequenting Newman Arena, but also following the team she hoped to one day join on away games.
“I essentially stalked the team,” she said. “Coach would remember seeing me everywhere.”
“I knew I wanted to go to an Ivy League school,” says Scarselletta. “I immediately loved Cornell… it seemed like a really good fit right away.”
After trying to grab as much attention as possible as a high school recruit — she would even sport bright orange sweatpants from the stands so that the coaches would notice her — Scarselletta would go on to have a solid three years as an important role player at Cornell. As a junior last year, she played in each of Cornell’s 29 games, averaging over 20 minutes per game. In an important playoff game against Dartmouth on March 16, Scarselletta notched 11 points while grabbing four rebounds. After helping Cornell win the Ivy title, she played another high-energy game against No. 1 Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament, grabbing three boards.
This year however, both Shannan and the team knew that her role had changed.
“I know now what my role is on the team… and it has definitely changed. Now, I have to be a scorer,” says Scarselletta.
Not only has she scored, but she has become a do-it-all post presence for the Red. After the win over Yale, Scarselletta has boosted her averages on the season to 13 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2 assists, playing 33 minutes per game — second on the team.
“Freshman year, I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know which way was up. Since then, I’ve definitely progressed in my ability to see the floor,” says Scarselletta. “My general knowledge of the game has improved. I’ve always been strong, but now I know how to use it.”
Part of that development has also been about becoming a team leader, on and off the court.
Asked if she feels a responsibility to be a leader, she said, “I think all seniors do. Off the court you have people looking up to you and learning from you. It’s not only what you say, but what you do.”
So far in her senior year, the rest of the Red squad can’t help but look up to Scarselletta — not only for her leadership and maturity, but also for the consistent quality of her play.
Even if it’s done mostly down low in the post.