Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Remember to appreciate ODU's Lewis on Senior Night

Remember the first time you saw her, Lady Monarch fans? All arms, all legs Tia Lewis, who runs the floor with the grace of a gazelle, first stepped on the Constant Center floor in 2008. She had to sit out a year -- the Conference USA Freshman of the Year transferred to ODU from Central Florida -- but watching her in the Blue-White scrimmage left the fans salivating for more.

They got it. Lewis has amassed 1, 622 career points, surpassing assistant Adrienne Goodson for 11th on the all-time scoring list (Lewis is 37 points shy of passing Mery Andrade at No. 10). Her 1,103 career rebounds rank her sixth on the all-time rebounding list.

Wednesday marks the last night Lewis will play in her home gym. The 6-3 center/forward will be the lone senior honored on Senior Night (ODU hosts Towson at 7 p.m.).  Lewis, whose first step is the envy of many her size, leads this young Lady Monarch team, averaging 16.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg.

Her father, stepmother and brother will be in attendance on Wednesday.

"Nothing has really hit me yet," said Lewis, real name Quintierra (nobody calls her that), who hails from Poulan, Ga. "I'm the same person as far as the emotion part. It hasn't really affected me yet."

Her memories of ODU will center around the players and coaches.

"Road trips have been the most fun," she said. "Coach Goodson brings a lot of games. We play UNO, charades, spades -- bonding games for the team. Coach always brings them."

Lewis has played for two coaches at ODU in Wendy Larry and Karen Barefoot. She has been in touch with Larry sporadically. "I don't talk to her on the phone, but we send texts from time to time," she said.

So much experience has allowed Lewis, who Larry often compared to ODU All-America forward Tracy Claxton, to mature as a player and person.

"I was just a stick playing basketball coming into college," she said. "Now I've got an inside-outside game, and I play a little defense. That's a big difference. I'm much bigger than when I came in."

Lewis has already graduated with plans to earn her master's in the future. Her degree is in recreation tourism and business management. She would like to play in the WNBA and believes she is a pro prospect in this country.

"I've got some great feedback from some real in-the-know people," she said.

As far as the best part of ODU basketball, Lewis, whose nails are often as colorful as her personality, doesn't hesitate to answer.

"The fans."

Hope there are plenty cheering her on for Senior Night.

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