It doesn’t really matter all that much to Emma Stroyan what her role is for the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team.
Whatever it might be, she said, the only thing that matters is that she goes all out every time.
Her response, though, to having to come off the bench in the Tigers’ narrow loss at Washburn University last week might speak for itself.
After earning a starting spot for four of the Tigers’ first seven games, she came off the bench once again.
The 6-foot-2 transfer in her second year in the program, responded by playing a season-high 27 minutes, hitting 4 of 8 from the floor — including two 3s — and recorded 12 points and nine rebounds in the three-point setback.
“The best player should be out there,” Stroyan said, referring to the fact she and 6-foot sophomore Belle Barbieri had flip-flopped spots in the last week. “Whoever can contribute to the team that night. We all have our bad nights and we all have our good nights.”
The last two outings — though losses for the Tigers — have been good for Stroyan. After coming off the bench Wednesday against the Ichabods, she was back in the starting lineup Saturday in another three-point loss to Emporia State on the road. She got FHSU off to a hot start in the first half, then recorded a season-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
“She earned her way back getting the start at Emporia,” Tiger coach Tony Hobson said. “She’s really upped her output the last few games. She’s playing with a lot more energy than she had.”
Sparingly used outside of the post as a junior in her first year a season ago, Stroyan has benefitted from the Tigers’ new offense in 2017. That was never more evident than when she took four 3s in the loss to Washburn, hitting two. She also had the ball in her hands as the final buzzer sounded, putting up a potential game-tying trey.
The Tiger offense allows her the ability to catch and shoot in stride when stepping outside.
“I have the green light,” she said. “I think a lot of that has to do with confidence and just getting into the flow and taking that shot — getting to step into it.”
The fact Hobson had more than one more option is a good sign for the 10th-year coach as a somewhat young and inexperienced Tiger club continues to find its stride.
“Belle was doing so well in practice and her role coming off the bench, she deserved a shot,” Hobson said. “It isn’t so much Belle losing the spot (against Emporia) as Emma taking it back. Just nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.”
That’s a good problem to have for Hobson as several Tigers continue to start stepping up for an FHSU team that sits 7-2 ahead of a pair of non-conference games this week. Furthermore, just six points separate the Tigers from potentially being 4-0 in the MIAA, and already FHSU has played three of the top four teams in the conference.
“That happens,” Stroyan said. “We learn from it, and progress.”
The fact FHSU played well in narrow losses against the MIAA’s best should bode well, Hobson said.
“If anything, we should have learned we don’t have to worry about not being able to play with anyone in the conference,” Hobson said. “We just have to tighten some things up, and work on our late game tactics as far as where we want the ball and who we want getting shots.
“Those things you just learn as you go on through the season.”