When senior point guard Elizabeth English left the team unexpectedly after a couple of rather humiliating losses on the road, the CSU women’s basketball team was left with a few questions: Who would fill in? Is this the end of the Rams domination of the Mountain West? Will things get worse before they get better?
The last question was answered emphatically with two convincing conference wins at home against New Mexico and Air Force. These wins were in part due to the influence of English’s replacement, freshman Vanessa Espinoza.
The 5-foot-4 point guard, who played at Highlands Ranch and Douglas County High schools, exudes confidence in a position that demands it.
“I bring defensive pressure and point guard leadership,” Espinoza said. “I play at a fast pace and I get my teammates involved offensively.”
Espinoza’s high intensity and confidence might be the result of having caring and supportive parents.
“My mom and dad always had me in sports,” she said. “They support me no matter what. I could quit tomorrow and they’d still be there for me.”
Espinoza’s father Albert was a professional boxer, perhaps showing an
indication of where she got her killer instinct. But don’t expect Espinoza to be
leaving the team anytime soon. She has grand plans while at CSU.
“CSU’s never been further than the sweet 16,” Espinoza said. “I want to take them further than that.”
She’ll have plenty of time. On a team where the attention has been focused on the “Super Seniors,” Espinoza has proven she can hang with the big girls and will be able to lead this team for the next few years. So what is she hoping to take from a season where she has been thrown into the saddle half way through?
“From this season, I hope to gain a greater understanding of the collegiate game,” Espinoza said.
That may be so, but it doesn’t mean that she’s not looking for the Rams to bring home any silverware this season. Does she think the Rams, who are 2-2 in conference play so far this season, still have a shot at bringing home conference honors?
“Yes, for sure. We still have a ways to go but we can do it,” Espinoza said, showing yet again the confidence that will surely make her a household name on campus in the coming years.
But why would she not be confident? She managed to letter each year at both her high schools, winning league titles in 1999 and 2000. She was the captain her senior year at Douglas County, where she received honorable mention in the 5A All-State selection.
Although Espinoza has a great deal going for her, she has no intention of
resting on her laurels, instead realizing that to be the best you have to be constantly striving for improvement.
“I need to work on taking care of the ball, not turning it over, and shooting,” Espinoza said. “Really, I’m going to be working on every aspect of my game.”
If CSU manages to turn around its tough 0-2 start to the conference schedule, the first time it’s happened since the 1992-93 season, Espinoza may deserve much of the credit.