Nick Hendra claims he hasn’t been putting in any additional work in the gym, no extra rebounding drills or shots before or after practice. So how does the sophomore guard explain his strong play lately? “Things have been going my way, I guess,” he says.
They certainly have. For the third time this season, Hendra led American in scoring, finishing with 16 points in the Eagles’ 69-44 victory over Colgate on Saturday. He also grabbed a personal-best 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. And he had three assists — quite a productive performance in just 25 minutes off the bench.
As Hendra continues to turn in efficient efforts — nine points, nine rebounds at Lehigh in his first career start and 14 points, seven rebounds against Army — the Eagles become more and more dependent on him giving them a boost off the bench. Which is why when he came up short at Bucknell — four points on 1-of-4 shooting and just four rebounds — it was an unexpected letdown.
Hendra’s contributions are “really important,” AU Coach Jeff Jones said. “That’s why we were — and I’m including myself and Nick — disappointed with his play, with his preparation for Bucknell. He didn’t have it. But [for him] to understand that and not get down, and come out ready to play [against Colgate] with a lot of energy, I think that’s a good sign. Hopefully, that’s a sign of him maturing.”
Last season, when Hendra was a freshman, one bad outing would lead to a string of bad outings. Now, as a sophomore, he is becoming better at not carrying forward disappointing showings. The next step for him is to become a consistent contributor, someone American can rely on, game after game.
“Last year, we didn’t count on him; he was icing on the cake,” Jones said. “He’s got to understand that we count on him now. . . . He’s got to bring it every single day. That is a big change for him, having those expectations, having the responsibility that he has. Hopefully, he’s learning that. I don’t think we can afford many more sub-par [efforts].”
February 16, 2009; 6:17 AM ET
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