Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who is that masked woman? It's JMU freshman sensation Giggetts

She broke her nose in the early minutes of her first college practice, which wasn't exactly the news her mother, Liz, wanted to hear on the other end of the phone.

But a broken nose and the protective mask she wears haven't slowed Norfolk native Toia Giggetts, a freshman at James Madison, who again was named CAA Rookie of the Week this week.

The 6-0 forward came off the bench to average 14.5 points and 10 rebounds in the Dukes' victories over Hofstra and William and Mary. Against the Pride she scored a career-best 21 points to go with another career high of 11 rebounds, all in 27 minutes.

Last week, Giggetts was also CAA Rookie of the Week behind 12 points and 8 rebounds against Towson.

Overall Giggetts averages 11 minutes (we see that going up), 3.8 ppg and 4.4 rpg. She is right behind teammate and team leader Lauren Whitehurst in FG efficiency, shooting .483 (Whitehurst is at .493).

LadySwish chatted with Giggetts, asking her initially about that claustrophobic-looking mask. "I'm comfortable with it now," she said. "When I first got it, it was hard. There's a lot of sweat."

The secret is she doesn't really need it anymore, but grins when she says, "They didn't like the way I played without it."

Giggetts hated sitting on the bench early, and it's no wonder. Team MVP of Lake Taylor High in 2009 and 2010 (the Titans won the Group AAA state championship in 2010), Giggetts finished a stellar high school career with 1,119 points and 891 rebounds.

"I wanted to be part of the team and contribute in some sort of way," she said. So she told herself, " 'This could be easy. I'm making it hard on myself.' "

And admittedly, there was an adjustment, especially, "Learning scouts and plays. In high school, we didn't run that many plays. We just did what we did. In college I had to learn the plays better, and I had to remember the scout."

Coach Kenny Brooks wasn't exactly easy on her. Calling it "tough love" is kind, Brooks said, noting, "From day one, she displayed a mentality she could help us in so many different ways. It was a matter of her understanding what physical condition she had to be in to play at this level, and she's done that."

Responds Giggetts: "He knew I could do better and he wanted more out of me. He didn't want me to just be a freshman."

Giggetts certainly isn't "just a freshman." She's an integral cog in the Dukes' improving offense and shines on a defense that continues to impress by stymieing opponents with its slap-happy style. Giggetts is thrilled she chose JMU (she also visited East Carolina). Rooming with teammate Crystal Ross is a blast and she enjoys friendly Harrisonburg.

Her game will improve even more, she promises. Though she is fond of her signature hook, "Handling the ball and working on my shot" are in the works. She's listening to Brooks' words, which so often are, "Be tighter."

"He says I'm too loose on everything like defense," she said.

One day Giggetts wants to own her own restaurant, but for now, "I want to be a factor" for JMU basketball.

Consider it done.

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