Photo Courtesy of Lafayette Athletic Communications
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | midnight
Coronado graduate Amanda Smith has had plenty of challenges to overcome during her junior year at Lafayette College.
In her first year seeing significant court time with the women's basketball team, Smith has helped Lafayette face one of its toughest preseason schedules.
Lafayette's opponents included No. 15 Rutgers, Middle Tennessee State in the Women's NIT and Virginia Tech. All were tough losses for the small liberal arts college in Easton, Pa.
"This is the toughest schedule since I have been here," Smith said. "We proved we could compete at a higher level last year and now we have to step it up. It can only help us by the time league play starts."
Lafayette is coming off a season where it advanced to the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals.
Lafayette coach Tammy Smith has high expectations for this year and expects Amanda Smith play a key role. Smith played in 23 games as a sophomore.
"Her size is great, plus she can get up and down the court quickly," Tammy Smith said. "She is a force in the paint but she can also shoot from the perimeter. Her versatility is important."
Playing basketball for a Division I program is difficult, but Amanda Smith has coupled it with being a double major in business and art.
Amanda Smith, a valedictorian from Coronado's 2006 class, spends most of her nights cramming, while her days are spend on the basketball court.
"It's tiring having practice, homework, and waking up the next day to do it over again," she said. "If we have a game I have even less time to get things done."
She has taken the challenge in stride as she has started about half of this season's games for Lafayette (6-9).
The 6-foot-3 center saw Lafayette's Dec. 19 game at Rutgers as a learning experience.
Smith scored five points late in the first half to cut Lafayette's deficit to nine points. It was as close as Lafayette came to upsetting their first ranked opponent in 13 years, as Rutgers cruised to a 61-29 win.
"Rutgers was probably more of a challenge than my schoolwork," Smith said. "I would have to say I know more of what to expect in the classroom."
At Coronado, she averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds a game as a senior. She was named first team All-Sunrise Region and was also recruited for her skills in volleyball.
"The transition from high school to college is a very big adjustment," she said. "It was a big shock and it took some time to get used to it. College is basketball day-in and day-out."
She delved fully into fine arts at Lafayette and specializes in digital graphic design. She hopes to combine her background in art with a business degree and eventually a master's degree in marketing.
Tammy Smith said the intelligence the junior center displays in the classroom is also evident on the basketball court.
"When we recruited her I knew Amanda would be great for our offense," she said. "She has a great basketball IQ."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].