By Jamie Bataille
One day, perhaps in the very near future, Sasha Sims will be remembered as one of the all-time greats in Stetson history. However, not many people who saw Sims play in her first season as a Hatter would have thought that possible.
“Her freshman year, all she did was shoot threes,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said about Sims. “That is all she had in her game. She did nothing else for our team. We needed (the threes), but thank God we had (Victoria) McGowan and a really good group.”
While Sims averaged nearly 10 points a game and earned Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team honors in 2010-11, she really struggled with the amount of responsibility and the high expectations placed on her right from the start of her career.
“My freshman year was pretty tough,” Sims said. “I came in and the program was in the process of trying to turn over a new leaf. I was expected to perform at a high level every day from the day I got here. If there was a problem and we were getting in trouble, it probably was because of me. I was the only freshman, so if anything went wrong, it was like, ‘Yeah, Sasha messed it up.’ It was pretty tough.”
“It was hard for her, because she was the lone freshman, but she was never, never treated like a freshman,” Bria said. “I just felt like she was so talented and she should be giving us more. I have never been easy on her. It has always been hard for her, I made sure of that.”
Sims didn’t see it at the time, but now says that Bria was molding her to not only become a better player, but a team leader as well.
“I can’t even say I accepted the role at the time,” Sims said. “I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to help anyone else out, I just wanted to make sure I was doing everything right because I knew I might possibly mess something up. But Coach Bria taught me how to get outside myself and encourage other people, to figure out everything that is going on, not just focus on your position or your own struggles.”
As Sims became more of a leader, her ability and her performance escalated as well.
“Since (her freshman year) she has really developed her game,” Bria said. “She can score off the bounce, she can post up. She can still shoot the three, she rebounds a lot better, and she blocks shots. She has just evolved into the well-rounded player as I always saw her.”
Now Sims is headed back to the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship with a chance to become a three-time league champion. As the lone senior on this year’s squad, Sims has played a valuable role teaching and setting an example for the Hatter freshmen to emulate later in their careers.
“I think because she has been in our program for four years, she has helped with the transition this year of our very young team,” Bria said. “I think this year she is the best player she has ever been, and we rely on her more than we have in the years past, and she has responded perfectly to it. We wouldn’t be having the success now without her response.”