Point guard on record pace this sea­son

The Idaho Statesman - - Sports - BY RACHEL ROBERTS [email protected]­hostates­man.com

Long be­fore she set foot on the hard­wood for the first time as a Bronco, Jayde Christo­pher’s Boise State bas­ket­ball team­mates were talk­ing her up.

Thir­teen games into the 2018-19 sea­son, Christo­pher has lived up to the hype.

The 5-foot-8 red­shirt ju­nior point guard leads the Bron­cos (11-2, 2-0 MW) with 75 as­sists and count­ing en­ter­ing Sat­ur­day’s Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence matchup against San Jose State. Tipoff is 1 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena. The game will be streamed on­line at Watch­Sta­dium.com and on the ra­dio on 1350 AM.

Christo­pher’s 5.77 as­sists per game av­er­age puts her right on pace to con­tend for the pro­gram’s sin­gle-sea­son as­sists record. Yaiza Ro­driguez set the bar with 192 as­sists in 33 games dur­ing the 2016-17 sea­son.

“For some peo­ple, the game is re­ally slow. Now ob­vi­ously Jayde’s su­per, su­per quick, but the game is real slow and so she sees things a step ahead,” Boise State women’s bas­ket­ball coach Gordy Pres­nell said. “Her vision on the floor is as good as I’ve ever seen. She’s a dif­fer­ent kind of point guard than Yaiza was, but she sees things like a sec­ond ahead and is able to re­spond ac­cord­ingly.”

Christo­pher sat out last sea­son af­ter trans­fer­ring from Kansas, but it wasn’t a wasted year. If any­thing, it helped her team­mates get used to her speedy style of play.

“In the be­gin­ning, I was ter­ri­ble at catch­ing her passes, be­cause she’ll throw dimes so fast,” Boise State ju­nior A’Shanti Cole­man said. “… But we used to be on the same teams a lot dur­ing scrim­mag­ing, so we’ve kind of been ey­ing things. I feel like she al­ways has her head on a swivel and her eyes are al­ways up. She’s al­ways look­ing to pass.”

Christo­pher and Cole­man have no trou­ble con­nect­ing now. Christo­pher as­sisted on five of Cole­man’s nine bas­kets in the Bron­cos’ 69-66 win at San Diego State on Jan. 5, in­clud­ing two no-look passes and a be­tween-the-legs bounce pass.

“In mid­dle school I shot a lot more, but then I was like: ‘Hmm. I kind of like pass­ing a lot and get­ting other peo­ple in­volved,’ ” Christo­pher said. “... In high school it re­ally, re­ally be­came my thing. … What­ever makes other peo­ple happy.”

In the Bron­cos’ two games at the Husky Clas­sic in De­cem­ber, Christo­pher set tour­na­ment (19) and sin­gle-game (11) records for as­sists. Christo­pher’s 11 as­sists against Saint Fran­cis also was just three short of ty­ing Boise State’s sin­gle-game record of 14, which cur­rent se­nior Marta Her­mida es­tab­lished last sea­son against San Jose State.

And with the Spar­tans (1-12, 0-2 MW) in town Sat­ur­day, Her­mida’s record could be in jeop­ardy.

“Our posts would have to have their hands up all the time, be­cause she’ll hit you in the nose if you’re not look­ing with a ball,” Pres­nell said. “If ev­ery­one is fin­ish­ing, there’s def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity of that (record) hap­pen­ing.”

While Christo­pher’s abil­ity to an­tic­i­pate and stay a step ahead of op­pos­ing de­fenses al­lows her to cre­ate scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for her team­mates, those team­mates value much more than just her gen­eros­ity.

It’s rare to see the Fed­eral Way, Wash­ing­ton, na­tive with­out a smile, and she’s often caught dur­ing prac­tice do­ing some lit­tle dance to lighten the mood.

“I’m just re­ally goofy. I love mak­ing other peo­ple laugh,” Christo­pher said. “I’m weird, but in a good way.”

Ear­lier this sea­son, Christo­pher and sopho­more Tess Amund­sen joined some of Boise State’s Mane Line dancers to per­form the dance to R&B singer Ciara’s song “Level Up.” The video was used to pro­mote the Bron­cos’ sea­son opener later that week.

“She has a bub­bly per­son­al­ity. Ev­ery­one loves her,” Cole­man said. “She loves to laugh and joke around. She’s a great team­mate on and off the court.”

MEN: BOISE STATE WON’T OVER­LOOK SJSU

San Jose State’s 3-11 over­all record and 0-3 mark in league play is the worst among Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence teams, but Boise State coach Leon Rice still ex­pects a bat­tle.

The Bron­cos (7-8, 2-0 MW) play at The Event Cen­ter at 1 p.m. MT on Sat­ur­day in San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia. The game will be streamed on­line at TheMW.com and on the ra­dio on 670 AM.

The Spar­tans have lost their last five games, but seven of their 11 losses have come by sin­gle dig­its.

“Some­times when a team goes through a stretch like that and they lose and they lose and they lose, they kind of quit and sack their bats and you see that in their body lan­guage,” Rice said. “You don’t see that with (San Jose State). They’re com­pet­ing and they’re fight­ing, and it’s al­most re­gard­less of time and score.

“When you get a team like that, that’s al­ways dan­ger­ous, be­cause they’re just plug­ging away and they will get it go­ing on some­body.”

Boise State, Fresno State and UNLV are the only teams left in the Moun­tain West with per­fect league records. The Bron­cos also are chas­ing their first three-game win streak of the sea­son.

KATHER­INE JONES [email protected]­hostates­man.com

Jayde Christo­pher works the ball down to Boise State’s bas­ket against Louisville on Nov. 19 at Taco Bell Arena.

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