Jan. 22, 2009
It’s said that time flies when you are having fun. And Angel Gray is the first one to point out that she agrees with that sentiment.
Against Clemson, the Jonesboro, Ga., native entered the 18th game of her junior campaign and sometimes has to remind herself that the expectations and duties of being an upperclassman on the Florida State women’s basketball team are very real.
And for Gray, those expectations and duties include doing something that comes naturally for her: setting the tone with her defensive intensity.
“It definitely feels weird for me sometimes to be a junior,” Gray said. “It seems like not too long ago I was a freshman. But I have tried to be a leader since I got to FSU. No matter what my age has been since I have been here I have tried to set an example for my teammates. But this year it’s even more. My teammates tell me every day that I am the one that starts the intensity on the court each game. They just tell me that I bring a lot of intensity and expect me to bring that every game.
“I look at it as a big responsibility so I take it very seriously and I always try to set the tone for them with my intensity,” Gray said.
Gray can remember one situation in particular this season in which she really began to understand what it means to be one of the veteran players on the team.
“I remember one recent game when the coaches told me to guard a girl that was a senior and I thought, `Are you sure? She’s a senior,'” Gray said. “But then I thought about it for a second and it really hit me that she was only one year older than me. I am a junior, so there’s no reason to be intimidated by an upperclassman.”
So far this year, it has been Gray’s play on the defensive end of the basketball court that has been doing the intimidating. The fiery guard is almost always in the hunt for loose balls and countless times during each contest you can see No. 1’s body hit the floor as she dives for an errant pass or unsecured rebound.
And when she isn’t sacrificing her body for the betterment of the Seminoles, Gray is nabbing rebounds or snatching the basketball away from opponents. She leads the team with 32 steals and is third on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
“I think strong defense sets up the offense for any team,” Gray said. “Not just individually but if the team plays great defense you are able to create things offensively and that’s true for me. When I get a steal I am feeling good and it helps me on the offensive end. I know we are one of the best defensive teams in the ACC. We are always looking to get as many steals as possible because they lead to fast-break opportunities. You get a steal and you are going to get more people on a 3-on-2 or a 2-on-1.”
For as talented as she is on defensive end, Gray is still improving on the opposite end of the court. She is utilizing her ability to stay composed and her propensity to make big plays on defense as a jumping off point of sorts for her offensive game. In the Mercer win, Gray had a career performance with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. She also went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the contest.
“I have had confidence in my ability to stay composed since high school,” Gray said. “I have always been the most confident and the most composed on defense but I think that my confidence on offense is definitely improving this year. The more plays I make on defense, the better I feel with the ball in my hands.”
By Brandon Mellor, FSU Sports Information