When someone thinks of the key players on the women’s basketball team, Melissa Knight is not the first name that they mention.
However, Knight is a solid player on both ends of the floor and has made the ‘Canes starting five one of the best in the nation.
“With Melissa in the lineup, we don’t have any weaknesses,” Head Coach Ferne Labati said. “The starting five is all capable of getting double figures which makes it difficult to play defense against us. Our bench will come in and blend, but the starting five is very solid and Melissa has been a big part of that.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Knight was a competitive athlete who played soccer as a child. As she got older, however, she realized that she had to make the switch to basketball.
“I played soccer my whole life until I got to high school, then newspapers and colleges started coming at me, and I knew I had to switch sports and concentrate on basketball,” Knight said.
She is not the type of player that worries about numbers. She is a team player, and her measure of success is in the number of victories that her team gets.
“I’m not worried about scoring; as long we keep winning as a team, then that’s the most success you can ask for,” Knight said. “I wanted to come and be on a team that was successful when I was here.”
Knight continues to improve as a player too. She worked hard in the off-season to improve her game so that she would be able to play a larger role this year.
“We recruited Melissa because she is a very good shooter and she’s worked very hard on her game and in the weight room to get that starting spot,” Labati said. “She wanted to start and she knew she would have to beat people out to get that spot and she did.”
Anyone who meets Knight is amazed by her personality. She is always laughing and having a good time.
“I’m goofy, everyone says that I’m goofy because I always like to have fun, I’m always smiling and I am always telling jokes,” Knight said.
She credits her sister for introducing her to basketball and her parents for their support, but there is one player that she admires on the floor.
“I wouldn’t say my game is like anybody’s, and I watch college more than the NBA, but I would say I would want to model my game after Allen Iverson because I like him as a player and he’s from Philadelphia,” Knight said.
As a junior, Knight is expecting big things for the rest of this season and beyond.
“She works hard and keeps getting better, so she is poised to be a great player for us next season,” Labati said.
As for this year, there is some unfinished business remaining, such as winning the Big East conference.
“We want to go out of the Big East with a bang,” Knight said. “Winning the Big East Championship is number one on our list, and even though we will get to the Tournament, we still want to win the Big East and go to the Final Four.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at email@example.com.