The continuous growth of Sydney Taylor

How the sophomore proved she is more than just a 3-point threat

Courtesy+of+Saint+Louis+Athletics

Courtesy of Saint Louis Athletics

By Lulu Kesin, Collegian Staff

Sydney Taylor barely saw the floor all of last season. On Friday afternoon she scored 18 points and is now averaging 15.9 per game for the Massachusetts’s women’s basketball team.

Taylor’s emergence on the stat sheet began from the moment head coach Tory Verdi put her in the starting lineup. A 3-point phenom, Taylor shot 5-of-8 from behind the arc in UMass’ (10-2, 6-1 Atlantic 10) season debut.

Following her first game as a starter, Taylor’s 3-point shooting remained consistent, and at times made game headlines like when she had six 3-pointers against Davidson.

Rather than labeling herself as just the Minutewomen’s go-to shooter, Taylor has developed into a multifaceted scorer. She has started every game and has scored 15 or more points in nine of UMass’ 12 games.

“She has really developed, obviously she can shoot the ball, but she has really developed driving to the hoop, finishing and getting the and ones,” said senior Sam Breen. “People probably play her as a shooter, but she can really put the ball on the floor and drive and get those traditional three point plays as well. She is tough to guard.”

In a game like what UMass saw against Saint Louis (2-2, 0-2 A-10) on Friday, an aggressive attack on offensewas needed after a scoring drought through most of the first quarter. Taylor was among those who struggled early to convert.

The Minutewomen didn’t have a lead the entire first half until Taylor hit a deep 3-pointer to put them up one heading into halftime.

Her offensive dominance did not stop with the clutch 3-pointer.

Midway into the third quarter, Taylor nailed three free throws to put UMass up four. After a Saint Louis miss, freshman Ber’Nyah Mayo threw a long outlet pass to Taylor to secure a transition layup.

To finish off a crucial UMass run heading into a media timeout, a steal from Taylor led to solid bounce pass to Breen for a layup to stretch the lead to eight in the span of minutes.

“Sydney is talented, she is a scoring guard, and we are going to put her in situations where she is going to be able to attack downhill and get to the basket,” Verdi said. “She can score, she does not hesitate and those are the things I love about her.”

Last season, Hailey Leidel was the 3-point force for the Minutewomen. When Leidel graduated, conversations between Taylor and Verdi gave the rising sophomore the perspective that she may be asked to fill Leidel’s shoes.

Days before UMass hit the road to take on Bryant in November, Verdi made it clear to the public that Taylor was going to fill those shoes. After scoring 24 points, Taylor set the tone she is capable of doing that and so much more.

The pleasant surprise of Sydney Taylor this season lies in her transformation minutes wise, but her skill set was always one that had potential to grow. The way that Taylor has become a multifaceted player while simultaneously being a dependable 3-point threat creates a positive dynamic for her teammates to work off of.

“Sydney is incredible,” Breen said. “I think everyone who watches us knows that. She does a really good job of not letting anything affect her next play; she misses a shot, its next play for her.”

In a game like Friday’s–four UMass players found themselves in double figures by the end of the game—the next shot mentality was needed early on when nobody could score.

“When she gets it going, it becomes infectious and I felt like it started to spread here in the second half,” Verdi said.

UMass has a quick rest before the rematch against Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. With little time to fix complex parts, Verdi will look for another solid performance from his starters to set the tone for the bench to follow.

Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Lulukesin.