Wicijowski already fulfilling expectations

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

Freshmen aren’t usually known for making big impacts on whatever team they are playing for, especially in college, when freshmen seasons are often spent catching up to the speed of college ball and improving skills.

But every now and then, freshmen emerge as big playmakers and make an “I have arrived” statement.

With two young teams taking the floor at the Huntsman Center, it was inevitable that underclassmen would have a huge role in the men’s and women’s basketball games this season.

Both teams have several freshmen seeing court time, and I have seen great things from the likes of Marshall Henderson and Jason Washburn. However, when it comes to which freshman player is going have the biggest impact, I have to pick Taryn Wicijowski on the women’s basketball team.

Wicijowski was a proven player long before she arrived at Utah. The 6-foot-3 forward led the Canadian Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the FIBA World Championships this past summer. She averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in the tournament, including a 16-rebound performance against the United States. Wicijowski also led Leboldus High School to two championships and one second place finish in the SHSAA Provincia Hoopla Finals.

Before the season started, coaches from the women’s team said Wicijowski would be a major contributor on the team and that her experience would impact her performance.
The 18-year-old has lived up to every expectation set for her thus far.

She has started all five games for the Utes and is the second-highest scorer on the team, averaging 13.2 points per game, only two points fewer than senior Kalee Whipple’s 15 points per game.

Wicijowski has the highest field-goal percentage on the team, shooting 54 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line. She has led the team in scoring in its last two games with 15 and 21 points, respectively.

She is contributing on not only offense, but also in rebounding and defense. She is tied with Whipple for second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.4 per game, and has led the team in that category once with a career high of 10 rebounds in the win over Minnesota.

Wicijowski has five steals on the season, a high number for a post player who doesn’t normally get the opportunity for takeaways.

The only negative point on her stat line is personal fouls. She leads the team with 16, but as a former post player I can say that it gets physical under the basket, and fouls are bound to happen.

As the season progresses, Wicijowski will become a bigger part of the Utes’ ability to win games. When you only have two seniors on the team, younger players have to step up, and Wicijowski’s play will be a crucial part of all the success the women’s team has.

Wicijowski will have a bigger impact on the women’s team than any underclassmen on the men’s team, simply because her presence is needed more. Although the men’s team is also young, they have returning starters and playmakers in Carlon Brown, Kim Tillie and Luka Drca. The women’s team is significantly lacking in the experience column, which is why Wicijowski will make a bigger impact than any of the freshmen on the men’s team.

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