By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three years into her time with Penn State women's basketball, Amari Carter is making the most of her time in the Blue and White. She waited, rested, and watched as she missed both her senior high school and college freshman seasons with ACL tears, but now, in her second year as a full-time starter, she is continuing to make a mark on the Big Ten.
One of the premier defenders in the league, Carter totaled 78 steals in the regular season for an average of 2.6 steals per game. Both of those averages are good for second in the conference.
Carter's defense helped propel her to a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, a recognition she does not take lightly.
"It's just a nod from the other coaches and different people around the conference recognizing the work you put in," Carter said.
Head coach Coquese Washington has seen Carter improve and grow stronger over the year, citing the road Carter has had to battle back from in order to garner the recognition she deserves.
"Amari had to recover from two consecutive ACL injuries, missed two years, spent a lot of time in the training room. To finally get back close to the form she was at before those injuries, I'm really happy for her that she was able to get that accomplishment and recognition," Washington said.
Defense is an area of Carter's game that the coaching staff has stressed since the beginning of the season, sensing her court anticipation and ability to step into passing lanes to create havoc in the fast break. Her speed is a factor as well, making her one of the most dangerous perimeter defenders in the conference.
"It's one of the things we challenged her to be better at this year. We wanted her to be a two-way player and impact the game on both ends of the court. Over the course of the season, she really picked that up," Washington said.
While many players thrive mostly on the offensive end, wanting to focus on scoring and flashy offensive moves, Carter prides herself in her defense and ability to give opposing coaches headaches.
"I definitely improved in that area, and it's fun. It's fun getting steals and getting into the passing lane, being like a safety in the back of the zone. I can get my hands to the ball so we can get out and run," Carter said.
Carter is joined on the All-Big Ten list by junior guard Teniya Page, who picked up her third All-Big Ten honor and second first team recognition. Like Carter in the past, Page has had to overcome injury this year, meaning much of her award can be attributed to her mental strength as well as her abilities on the court.
"Teniya broke her ankle in August, it was a long road back and she didn't play the season 100 percent, still isn't 100 percent. I think it's a testament to her mental work because it was a lot of mental work she had to do this year to get back to the form where she was a first team player," Washington said. "I'm thrilled for both of them [Page and Carter], just because of what they've had to overcome."
The Lady Lions have a chance to extend their season this week at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Penn State has a potential to play five games in five days if they are to advance all the way to the championship game.