Arkansas-Pine Bluff senior Christina Lasane, who hails from a family of six, has been preparing for this season her whole life.
“Those qualities that were instilled onto me when I was younger have prepared me for this kind of environment,” Lasane said. “And basketball has given me the discipline to deal with the outcomes.”
Lasane, the second oldest of four children and the only girl in the family, is one of only two seniors on the Lady Lions basketball team and therefore has been burden with a lot of the responsibility that comes with that.
“There is no doubt that she has had to shoulder the responsibility,” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “… Even more so than Marion Thompson (the team’s other senior).
“But I think she is handling it well.”
Lasane has two younger brothers — Joshua and Christian — who have been looking up to her their whole lives.
“They lean on me for the same of kind of compassion I have for my teammates,” Lasane said. “I’ve been playing the role my whole life.
“I’ve been the big sister my whole life, that’s why it came so natural.”
Lasane has gone from being a role player — fitting in with the likes of Chi-Chi Okwumabua and Lakendra Marsh — to being depended on as a key element of UAPB.
“She’s an offensive threat for us,” Kilbert said. “We depend on her to knock down the jumper.
“We forced here to play the point guard position and she is doing a good job of running our offense.”
Kilbert believes the responsibility is something she is getting used to.
“I think she is handling it well,” Kilbert said. “Maybe not so much in the beginning but now she is starting to.
“… She has become someone we can depend on. She has a lot of responsibility that she didn’t have last year.”
The Memphis native is second on the team in scoring, averaging 9.7 points per game. She had a season high 11 points against Texas Tech on Dec. 4.
“She is starting to play at the expectation that we had for her,” Kilbert said. “… I think she could be close to a double-double, but she needs to work on her rebounding.
“She also has to pick it up on defense.”
From the floor, Lasane is just 38 of 137 (.277) shooting but she is 33 of 55 (.600) from the free throw line and has dished out 15 assists so far this season.
Lasane averages 3.6 rebounds per game and had a season high against Iowa with seven.
UAPB (1-12, 0-3 SWAC) is currently riding a 12-game losing streak — having not won since its season opener against Philander Smith. UAPB is 0-11 on the road but will return to H.O. Clemmons Arena on Saturday when UAPB hosts Southern (7-5, 4-0) in a women’s-men’s doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m.
Lasane said the No. 1 thing that has to improve if the Lady Lions want to turn it around is their rebounding.
“If we do that, everything else will fall into place,” Lasane said. “We have been more involved and extra passes have been better.
“Our effort is there, but we just haven’t rebounded well. We are not a good rebounding team.
“If we can pick that up, it could be the final piece to the puzzle and we will start winning games.”
Kilbert said the whole team is starting to play better.
“We still aren’t doing the things we should on defense but our offense has definitely improved,” Kilbert said. “If we can keep teams in the low 60s or high 50s, I think we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
Since entering conference play, Southern has averaged about 80 points a game, including putting up 100 against Grambling State on Jan. 11.
“They have proven they are the best team in the conference,” Kilbert said. “They are playing faster, because we don’t play quite as fast as they do.
“They have picked it speed wise and are getting more fast breaks. They can create problems for us. They have a lot of size and we will have to keep them off the boards.”
Lasane believes all the pressure is on Southern this weekend.
“Any team in our conference is beatable,” she said. “It just depends on how you as an opponent play them.
“It does nothing but test us.”
Lasane said if UAPB could shut Southern down and beat them, it will “say a lot about our team.”
“I feel like the pressure is on them because they are at the top of the conference,” Lasane said. “We can just go out there and play.”