WBB : Tyson-Thomas serves as catalyst for Syracuse’s early-season success

first_img Published on November 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Kayla Alexander missed an easy layup on the right block early in the first half against Lafayette on Nov. 19. The ball fell back off the rim past Alexander, where Carmen Tyson-Thomas’s outstretched right hand got a piece of the ball to tip it in from right of the hoop.The follow by the SU guard demonstrated the athletic ability and instincts on the court that have made her one of the team’s top playmakers early this season.‘I have a nose for the ball. I like to locate the ball,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘So I mean whether I’m boxed out or whether I’m supposed to be boxing out, I’m going after the ball at all times. And I just happened to always know where the ball is, and I’m in the same area.’Tyson-Thomas has solidified her place in the starting lineup through five games this year after coming off the bench in all but one of Syracuse’s 35 games last season. The junior has gone from being the team’s spark plug to leading its new up-tempo style of play. In her increased role, Tyson-Thomas set a career high with 21 points against Lafayette and then topped that total three nights later with 23 against Buffalo.The Philadelphia native will look to continue her strong start to the season when Syracuse (5-0) plays Boise State (4-2) at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Boise, Idaho.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTyson-Thomas is currently second on the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game and tied for third in rebounding with 7.8 per game — increases from her scoring average of 8.6 and rebounding average of 6.7 as a sophomore.On the season, the guard has played with a fearless attitude, taking 65 shots — the most of any Syracuse player. She has connected on 40 percent of her shots overall, including 6-of-22 from 3-point range. That improved shooting ability coupled with her ability to make plays on the glass has made her a dynamic threat for the Orange.‘Me, Carmen and Iasia, we can all be forwards, we can also play wings,’ SU guard Elashier Hall said. ‘So I think that’s good, and it shows our versatility.’That knack for rebounding is something Tyson-Thomas has had since she was in high school. She grabbed 1,052 boards in her career at Conwell-Egan Catholic (Pa.) High School, averaging 11.2 rebounds in four years there.And she continued to excel on the glass when she arrived at Syracuse. Last season, she finished third on the team in rebounding despite playing just 23.9 minutes per game. SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said she has picked up right where she left off, causing problems for opponents on the offensive end.‘Last year, she was an awesome rebounder for us, and obviously she has continued on the same trend,’ Hillsman said. ‘She’s a tough box-out on the weakside of the floor, so when you can get her into space and where she can really crash the boards and a running start, you’re going to have a hard time keeping her off the glass.’Tyson-Thomas said she is a ‘leaper’ and considers her jumping ability to be her biggest asset as a rebounder. She has worked on her vertical leap by doing hurdles, lunges and squats during workouts.And she also does 100 calf raises every night before she goes to bed.‘I do calf raises and people think I’m a little neurotic when it comes to that,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘But I value my calves and I like to get up, I like to have some bounce.’It’s a ritual Tyson-Thomas said she first started when she was 12 years old. She first learned about the advantages of calf raises when she was 10, when a friend told her she should do the exercise every night.Tyson-Thomas said her friend was 12 at the time and was able to grab the rim, so she started doing them, too.‘He was grabbing the rim, so when I got to 12, I was grabbing the rim also,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘So ever since then, I never let it go. I do calf raises every night, and I keep my bounce, and I grab offensive rebounds, and I’m everywhere on the floor.’Those calf raises that turned her into a dominant rebounder in high school have remained a part of her routine at SU. And that rebounding ability has remained Tyson-Thomas’ calling card at Syracuse.‘It’s a knack. I have a real good knack for rebounding the ball,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘That’s something I like to do.’[email protected]  Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more