Marlow native Newberry finding success at collegiate level

Posted in: Sports
By Todd Brooks
Jan 3, 2013 - 8:40:21 AM

The number on the uniform is the same, but the name on the front is different.
Former Marlow girls’ basketball standout and all-state player Skyler Newberry is now a Lady Eagle at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City. PLAYING TIME
OCU is at the beginning of a three-year process of moving from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Last Saturday, the Lady Eagles hosted Evangel University from Missouri in its last game against an NAIA school this season. Oklahoma Christian had no problems in dispensing the Lady Crusaders, claiming a 69-47 victory to improve to 7-6 on the season.
Newberry is in her sophomore year and while she does not start, she is part of the rotation receiving playing time.
Newberry, playing power forward, scored two points in three field goal attempts. Her points came when she received the ball near the basket did a fake, spun around on her pivot foot, and shot a successful lay-up off the glass.
For the game in 11 minutes of play, Newberry was tied for third on the team with four rebounds, adding a steal, and an assist on a half-court pass to teammate Roz Hamilton on a fast break. She also had three turnovers.
Skyler NewberryThis season she is averaging 3.7 points per game, has a total of 39 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 steals. She is shooting .392 (20-of-51) from the field and .222 (2-of-9) from three-point range.
“It’s a lot different than high school,” Newberry said of her college experience. “The intensity is a lot more than it is in high school, and of course you’re playing against bigger, stronger, and faster players.”
Not only has the basketball experience been more challenging, but every aspect of college life has been.
“It’s a lot more difficult,” Newberry said. “The school work is harder and it is a lot more stressful. In high school you are constantly busy throughout all the hours of the day, but now you have to spend more time studying and working on your basketball skills.
“When I first started college, I was homesick quite a bit, but now it is a lot better. Now I’m going into my fourth semester so I’ve gotten used to it. It’s good, but I still miss my family though.”
Another adjustment has been learning the system of head coach Stephanie Findley.
“There are a lot more plays than what I am used to, and you have to try to remember all of them, and I’ve never been good at plays.
“I feel like my defensive play is okay.”
Offensively, Newberry was a prolific scorer in high school, but it has not translated into her college game so far, which is an area she admits she needs to improve on.
“I need to work on my shooting and my ball handling,” she said. “Those are probably my two main things.”
OCU’s seven wins have almost equaled last year’s total in which the Lady Eagles finished 9-20. Two of this season’s losses were by one point and another was an overtime loss.
“I just feel like we are more into it this year,” Newberry said. “I feel like we have a lot more get up and go, and we have good team leadership which I think helps a whole bunch.”
Newberry, a four-year starter at Marlow, has yet to start a game for OCU, but it does not seem to faze her.
“It is a goal, but not a huge goal,” she said. “I think the people out there are the people that need to be out there. They are good. As long as we play hard and win, I’m good.”
The mental aspect is probably the biggest change from the high school to the college ranks.
“Of course you have to be athletic, but you have to think a lot more,” Newberry said.
Coach holds high praise
OCU head coach Stephanie Findley knows a thing or two about basketball as evidenced by her having the most wins of any women’s college coach in the state, so she knows a good player when she sees one.
“We knew when she came in she was a good athlete,” Findley said. “We love her athleticism, which we have seen a lot of this year. We’ve actually got a play this year where we use her athleticism. We have an out-of-bounds play we call ‘Skyline’ we named for her, so we are excited about the athleticism she does bring to us. GOING UP
“Her freshman year she was in a big learning curve, which is always a surprise to them and I think to her to, but she is coming along very well this year, and like I said, she is one of our top three athletes. Her three-point shot has improved over this last summer, and she has worked her to really develop her game.”
At the college level where 6-foot-plus post players are common, Newberry has had to play in the post despite being only 5-8.
“Because of some different things, we’ve had to play her a lot at power forward, which is not her position, and she has done a very good job adjusting to that and doing what we need done. We really appreciate her attitude and versatility, and willingness to do whatever is best for the team.”
No player is perfect, and the coach does see some areas where she would like for the former Lady Outlaw to improve.
“You don’t hear coaches say this much about wanting players to slow down, but I wish at times for her to slow down because I think if she would slow down, she would be able to discern better on how she is going to make a play instead of taking the ball and just going.
“Maybe I would like for her to learn a little more patience, and maybe not to be too hard on herself. I think she is a little hard on herself when she does what she thinks she should not have done.
“She has improved her shooting, but she also has improved as a rebounder, which she can use her athleticism in that regard. She has really improved in judging where the ball is going to come off and getting to it.”
Oklahoma Christian is currently riding a three-game winning streak and its next game will be tonight (Thursday) at home against Newman University from Newman, Kan. The team will also host University of Arkansas-Fort Smith on Saturday. Game times are 5:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.