Canada should be proud.
Over the past six games, Stephany Skrba, the Richmond Hill, Ontario native and Canadian Junior National Team member, has shown Michigan fans why she was crowned Miss Canada Basketball in 2005.
Skrba scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds in an early-season game against Saint Francis (Penn.), garnering her Big Ten Player of the Week honors. But after that performance, the freshman sputtered, averaging just 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds during the next 16 contests. Lately, the lengthy Canadian has buried any doubt of her offensive potency, pouring in 71 points in her last six games – two more points than her total scoring output in the previous 16 – reminding everyone of her early-season form.
“There is no question that we’ve known that Stephany can be volatile offensively if she’s getting the right shots and taking all of the shots that she’s very comfortable with,” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said.
Skrba’s increase in productivity hasn’t been limited to just scoring. She has led the team in rebounding in four of the last six games, averaging 7.8 boards per game in that span.
“She’s a great offensive rebounder,” Burnett said. “And defensively, we almost have to have her in the game because of her defensive rebounding.”
If poise is what Skrba lacked early in the season, then she has a surplus of it now. Coaches and teammates alike have both pointed to confidence as the reason for her recent success.
“I definitely think she’s realized that she’s going to be a big scorer and a big rebounder for us,” freshman forward Carly Benson said. “So, just her having the confidence to go out and do those things, without worrying about making mistakes, has really helped us out a lot.”
Most recently, Skrba’s solid play boiled over into a career day when the Wolverines faced Ohio State on Friday night. Skrba filled the void left by injuries to Ta’Shia Walker and Katie Dierdorf. She recorded the first double-double of her young career, notching 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, which tied for the team’s season-high.
“My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball (against Ohio State),” Skrba said. “Our (guards) always tells us, ‘If you demand the ball, we’ll get it to you,’ so that’s exactly what they did.”
Despite her sensational night, she said she realizes that even if she does her part, she can’t replace her injured teammates by herself.
“I’m going to continue to try to be aggressive and bang in there with the big girls,” Skrba said. “Hopefully, the posts that are remaining can fill that void (left by Walker and Dierdorf).”
The freshman has remained unfazed by her increased scoring and rebounding burden, playing with the savvy of a seasoned veteran. Michigan is realizing the talent that earned her Miss Canada with her performance in the last six games. Now the Big Ten has a glimpse of what it will have to contain for the seasons to follow.
“If I continue to work hard there is no telling what I can do,” Skrba said.