Senior Lady Warrior shows versatility on and off court
Can you picture Lauren Land on a Division I rowing squad? Apparently, Loyola-Marymount can.
The Los Angeles school, after watching a basketball highlight film of the West Side Christian athlete, gave her a call and a recruiting pitch.
“I guess they watched my film and saw what I looked like. They said my athletic body type was what they were looking for. I don’t know,” said Land, who had zero rowing experience.
“I got offered to be a walk-on. I was kind of shocked and confused. Part of me was like, ‘Whoa, what if I actually did this?’ I thought it was more humorous than anything.”
Actually, it might not be so funny.
The 6-foot-1 senior has participated in various sports and shown a natural aptitude in most of them, including softball, track and field, gymnastics and dance. Everything, she said, except golf.
If Land had chosen to pursue the rowing opportunity, there’s no telling where she might’ve docked. But, her passion was and is squarely on the basketball court, where she has led the Lady Warriors to a 11-3 record. Last year’s conference Co-Player of the Year has averaged 17.2 points and 8 rebounds per game this season.
“She’s really taken an on-the-floor leadership role,” said West Side coach Randall Miller. “A lot of the things we do defensively end up with her around the rim. She’s really become a much better rebounder. That has helped us a lot. That’s just something she’s added to her game this year because she knows we need it.”
Despite her height, Land has always been a perim-
eter player. She played guard for her summer AAU team, the Banshees out of Little Rock.
“I tend to shoot more threes than I do post moves. I’m just more comfortable out there,” said Land.
Her coach lets her roam around the 3-point line but said she’s been willing to mix it up in the paint when asked.
“She doesn’t like playing down low a lot. It’s just not her favorite place to play. But, there are times that’s the mismatch we need to exploit. She knows doing it means winning so she’ll go do it,” said Miller.
“She has worked really hard on her perimeter footwork, squaring up and shooting the ball. Early on, I would’ve projected her to be down there on the block except she was one of our best perimeter defenders from early on.”
On and off the court, Land’s versatility might be her biggest asset. In a pinch, she can play all five positions on the floor. This season, injuries have forced her to handle the basketball more.
“She has not become the point guard. But, she does bring the ball up in key moments,” said Miller. “If they’re putting pressure on us, she rotates back and helps bring the ball up. She’s become a really good perimeter shooter. And,
she’s able to go down on the block and score. She can drive and finish with either hand. So, really she’s able to do, right now, whatever we need.”
A stalwart on West Side’s highly-successful volleyball squad, Land has always been the consummate team player. Her attitude would fit in perfectly on a championship rowing crew.
She laughed thinking about her interaction with Loyola-Marymount.
“I probably considered it for a couple of days,” she said. “I was talking to Anna (Williams) about it. She encouraged me to pursue it because she thought it would be funny and it would be awesome to have a rower from our school.”
If the offer wasn’t all the way on the West Coast, would she have looked at it closer?
“Maybe, yeah. I am a homebody so that was part of it. I’m a South Arkansas girl. I don’t know how I’d fit in in LA,” she said.
For her future, Land is looking closer to home and definitely at a different sport. That’s the phone call she’s awaiting.
“Right now, I would love to play in college but I don’t have any offers,” she said. “My plan is, if I don’t get any offers, I’m going to pursue an accounting degree at LA Tech in Ruston. But, if I got an offer, I would definitely be interested “
Armed for defense: West Side Christian's Lauren Land plays defense against Garrett Memorial this season. The 6-foot-1 senior has played all five positions for the Lady Warriors this season.