Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 5, 1996

On Sports: Anderson Sets Record, Pace in "Sweet 16" Drive

Mike Field
Staff Writer

     Last year, when the division championship-bound women's
basketball team was in Manhattan to play New York University, the
entire team got an opportunity to go to a Broadway show. They
chose Miss Saigon, the Vietnam war-era heartwrencher of personal
sacrifice and love eternal.

     For freshman Julie Anderson, it was the perfect choice. "I
sat and cried through the whole thing," she recalls with a laugh.
"Of course, I'm the one who cries just listening to the CD of Les

     Meet Julie Anderson, the starting sophomore forward who
leads the Blue Jays in points scored and in shots blocked, who
has set a new team season record for successful rebounds (290 and
counting), and who pushed the Jays' single game rebound record to
20, then 21, then 23 before this season was half over. 

     She is also the one who plays the game with absolute
concentration and complete dedication, the player who, to turn a
sports clich‚, is all heart.

     "Julie is very intense, very aggressive under the boards,"
says Jen Hoover, Hopkins Sports Information director. "There will
be six people grouped together under the net, and suddenly Julie
will just rise up from among the crowd. She is 100 percent
focused on the game and brings a lot of intensity to the team.
She is what I would call a very emotional player."

     She is also what many recognize as a very talented player.
Last year, as a freshman reserve player on a very talented team,
the 5 foot 10 inch Anderson managed to set the single season Blue
Jays record with 263 rebounds. And the best, all agree, is still
ahead, as she continues to grow and mature as a player.

     "We pride ourselves in the development of players over a
four-year period," says head coach Nancy Blank, now in her 10th
season at Hopkins. Blank came to Hopkins from a nine-year stint
as head coach at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. She took over a
Blue Jays team rife with possibilities, including membership in
the newly formed UAA conference, but a team with little in the
way of past successes. 

     "Before I came they were 2-21 and had never had a winning
season," Blank says. "One of the first things we saw we needed to
do was to start aggressively recruiting talented players." 

     Julie Anderson is just the kind of talent that Blank and her
staff have proved so capable of finding and wooing to Baltimore. 

     "I heard about Julie initially through a scouting service
from the summer camps," Blank says. "We started contact during
her junior year, and in her senior year we went to see her play." 

     That play was solid and skillful, and Julie's West Chester,
Pa., team was headed for a championship season. Yet for all that,
Julie was not the focus of attention. 

     "I had been playing with the same group of athletes since
seventh and eighth grade, when we had a truly phenomenal team
that never lost a game," she says. "In high school it was
essentially the same group, and they were all really good. Two of
the girls are now serious Olympic prospects in field hockey;
another, Payton Black, was recruited by Duke and is playing
Division I basketball."

     Somehow in the shuffle, Julie got a little lost. "Julie was
a steal from a recruiting standpoint," recalls Coach Blank. "She
was playing in the shadow of her teammate who was a Division I
prospect. But she was playing well, and we were able to
appreciate that. We feel like we stole her from the Division I

     Anderson is quick to disclaim any suggestions of
exceptionality. "I have some athletic ability, but until college,
basketball wasn't my main thing," she says. A gymnast from age 6
until seventh grade, Julie had dabbled in just about all the team
athletics, playing volleyball, lacrosse and softball, in addition
to basketball, before coming to Hopkins. In fact, American
University even offered her a scholarship--to play volleyball.

     "I was looking for the academic schools I wanted. I wasn't
looking to play basketball," says Anderson, who recently changed
her major to political science and public health. "But when Coach
Blank recruited me it was really appealing. I knew I didn't want
a state school, and the option of UAA play was very enticing. We
do a lot of traveling, and I like that." 

     Recently, the team spent four days in Chicago, waiting for
the Baltimore airport to reopen after the blizzard of '96. "We
did drills and a lot of practicing, but that was about it,"
Anderson says. "The coach keeps a pretty close watch on us when
we're away."

     Away or at home, basketball requires a tremendous commitment
of time, perhaps even more than most other varsity sports. "It's
a long season because it stretches out over two semesters," Coach
Blank says. "We've been at it since October--and there was
pre-season conditioning prior to that--and if the team is
successful, we'll continue into spring. Last year, we went well
into March."

     "We're almost like a sorority, we spend so much time
together," Anderson says of her teammates. "We have
two-and-a-half-hour practices almost every day, and we lift
weights the other times. It's not very often we get a day off." 

     Nor are they likely to anytime soon. Currently 7-1 in the
conference, if the Jays continue to repeat last year's winning
record they will be headed back to the NCAA playoffs come spring.
This from a team that lost two of its key starting seniors from
last season and has no fewer than seven freshmen (including
starting guard Kristen McKee) on the roster. Playing well with
such a young team is more than a matter of developing skills. It
also depends on desire, on the need to win.

     "I was impressed by how much cerebral preparation goes into
each game," says biology professor Maurice Bessman, who recently
served as a one-game honorary coach on the team. Bessman spent a
weekend assisting at practice before joining the bench for the
team's 80-69 victory over Haverford College. "The preparation
before each game is truly impressive. They know their opponents
and how they will play. The team is mentally prepared."

     As the skills mature and the smarts develop, all that's
needed is the heart, the overwhelming desire to win. And that's
something Julie Anderson has in abundance. "Playing in the NCAA
tournament last year was awesome," she says with special emphasis
on the final word. "I'm fairly confident we're going to make a
good run at it again this year. We're a young team, but we
definitely have the ability and the talent to do it. We just need
to stay focused." With Anderson on board, there seems little
doubt they will.

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