Chantel Osahor, UW’s 6-2 center, is averaging 14.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament; she is as skilled a passer as any post player you will find; she has been playing through a broken nose, an aching left foot and bad knees.
INDIANAPOLIS — Chantel Osahor has tried to tell everyone who has asked, and it does feel like everyone has asked her about it the past couple weeks.
Yes, there is a method to the madness behind her (insert synonym for “unorthodox” here) set shot, the one everyone’s suddenly gawking at, the one that has helped propel the Washington women’s basketball team to its first Final Four appearance this weekend.
Osahor, UW’s 6-foot-2 junior center, is averaging 14.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament; she is as skilled a passer as any post player you will find; she has been playing through a broken noise, an aching left foot, bad knees, and a busted-up shoulder from that time she was hit by a car on her bicycle, and still all anyone really wants to talk about is her (insert synonym for “unorthodox” here) set shot.
So, fine, we’ll stick with what works here, too, for now.
If her eight made three-pointers, in 18 attempts, in the Huskies’ three upsets in this NCAA tournament aren’t enough to prove her shooting method sound, Osahor was happy to have some scientific support bounce her way this week.
ESPN’s “Sports Science” broke down Osahor’s shot, examining such things as its “vertical and horizontal velocity,” its “ground reaction forces” and the speed of its release from her hands.
Bottom line: It’s efficient and it’s effective, despite how it might look. The coolest part? Get this: Osahor flicks her wrist “a blazing 1,500 degrees per second,” the show found, and she releases the ball as quick as four-tenths of a second — “or as fast as we clocked the release of the greatest shooter on the planet, Steph Curry.”
That’s big time.
The show’s host, John Brenkus, also noted that Osahor is the only player in the NCAA tournament who has averaged two made three-pointers a game and double digits in rebounds. Her shot even got a shoutout from former NBA star Chris Webber on Twitter.
She’s big time.
“I usually don’t care about stuff (like the show),” she said. “I think I’m a humble person; I try not to put my stuff out there, but that is awesome. I’m really stoked about that.”
If she can be honest, Osahor has grown a little tired of the set-shot questions in the buildup to the Final Four. They almost feel like a set-up. It was the first question she was asked Saturday during a news conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the day before UW’s national semifinal against Syracuse.
The typical exchange:
Where does that come from? Have you always shot like that?
“I have always shot like that.”
Did anyone teach you to shoot like that?
“Naw, it’s just how I shot.”
Sitting at her locker in UW’s dressing room a little while later, a walking boot covering her left foot, her size 12.5 LeBron Nike sneakers resting next to her, she shrugged off another series of set-shot questions.
“It does get annoying a little bit,” she admitted. “What’s more annoying about it is I’ve been doing it forever. Now I’m making some threes, now I’m scoring, and they want to say, ‘Look at her shot!’ But it’s … whatever.”
Courtney Ekmark can attest that Osahor, since she was about 9 years old, has always maintained her same set-shot style. They played together in AAU ball back then, when, coincidentally, they won a 9-and-under national championship together here in Indiana. With Ekmark’s dad as their coach, they stayed together with the same group of girls through AAU ball and through three state championships and another national title at St. Mary’s High School.
“She is definitely one of my top five favorite people to play with, for sure,” said Ekmark, now a reserve guard for top-ranked Connecticut, the overwhelming favorite to win its fourth straight national title here.
“She’s an amazing passer and she sets amazing screens; she rebounds and she’s super unselfish. She doesn’t really care if she gets the credit.”
Even en route to winning the MVP award at the Lexington Regional last weekend, Osahor still believes opponents underestimate her. “Oh, I know they do,” she said.
Not Sydney Wiese. Osahor and Wiese also go back to their Phoenix days. They competed against each other, but still became friends.
“Was she fun to play? Absolutely not, because I knew it was going to be tough to beat her,” said Wiese, who leads Oregon State against UConn in Sunday’s first semifinal. “When she has the ball at the top of the key, with her length and her ability to make passes, she sees the floor so well. There’s not much you can do to stop her.”
Not even the mounting injuries have slowed Osahor. As the Huskies went through their hourlong public practice Saturday, she spent most of the time in one corner of the arena alone, riding a stationary bike. She says she was wearing the walking boot “just for prevention.” And as for that nose, broken during an on-court collision in UW’s second-round upset at Maryland?
“I mean, it hurts. I broke it,” she said. “But I’m cool. … No one knows how much pain I go through.”
Even with the reoccurring pain, and even with all the repeat questions, she insisted she is enjoying the madness of being here, her big-time shot on the biggest stage yet.
“I’m having a blast,” she said. “Who knows if I’ll get this moment again, you know. I’m loving it. We’re all loving it.”
|She’s more than just a set shot|
|The Huskies have won eight of their past 10 games, with Chantel Osahor powering them on the boards. A look at her 2015-16 season numbers:|
|Avg. pts||Avg. rebounds||FG pct.||FT pct.||3pt. pct.|