ANSBACH, Germany – Ansbach junior Chealsy Reaves has always worked on her game, putting up shots and running drills and enjoying the marginal improvements produced. But to reach the fabled next level, she needed an impetus.
She got two of them.
Reaves was a sophomore shooting guard at Ansbach in 2011-12, her first year of varsity ball after a season on the Wiesbaden junior varsity squad. An average regular season led to a middling playoff seed for the Cougars. Then things began to click.
Ansbach rattled off five wins in six postseason games, finally falling to SHAPE in a hard-fought 41-31 semifinal. The Cougars took out their frustrations in the third-place game, hanging 57 points on Aviano while SHAPE edged AFNORTH 26-21 to claim the championship Ansbach let slip away.
“When I came in this year, I was like, this is unfinished business,” Reaves said. “I definitely thrive off of that loss last year, and it makes me want to go further and further.”
While the playoff disappointment festered, Reaves was handed another reason to redouble her offseason efforts.
Head coach Michael Lee Hunt asked the junior to switch from her natural spot on the wing and take over the point guard position. Reaves accepted the change, fighting through some initial trepidation and embracing the expanded role her coach had offered.
“I like playing point guard. You can do more things,” Reaves said. “The point has to be smart and know what to do when you’re in a scary situation in the game.”
Her coach knew Reaves was capable of making the difficult move, a transition that is not always successful for a player with the ingrained habits of a pure scorer. Hunt was convinced that Reaves would put in the necessary work.
“She’s one of the few girls that works all year on her game,” Hunt said. “She’s willing to be coached. She’s working harder at practice.”
Reaves’ offseason workload includes 150 free throws and 100 jump shots a day, followed by a mile-long run. She plays AAU ball across Central Europe in the fall, and attended camps in Ansbach, Wiesbaden, Ramstein and beyond.
The work has paid off in the young 2012-13 season. Reaves poured in a game-high 27 points in Friday’s 71-38 season-opening win over Schweinfurt and notched 17 in a narrow 35-32 loss to defending Division I champion Heidelberg, proving the switch hasn’t cost her all of her scoring ability.
As the postseason nears next February, Hunt expects more of the same.
“She’s going to be a huge factor to our success,” Hunt said. “Our chances are pretty good.”
Point well taken.