Porter brings energy to help Lady Bulldogs
Mississippi State's Portia Porter (4) takes the basketball to the hoop during exhibition action Sunday at Humphrey Coliseum. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The energy coming from Portia Porter on Sunday afternoon probably could have lit up the entire Humphrey Coliseum.
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Porter, a senior from Chicago, Ill., scored 20 points for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but was also active in saving loose basketballs and getting a key rebound or two.
Through Porter's efforts, the Lady Bulldogs were able to easily defeat Arkansas-Fort Smith 84-48 in exhibition action.
"Her effort is something we have definitely noticed in the fall workouts," Mississippi State women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "She was our best defender last year and she has really stepped up, taken that on as a role and wants to be the best defender on this team. Giving this team energy is very important and it's contagious."
Porter said providing energy is something she focuses on every game and she has gotten comfortable after going through last season with the Lady Bulldogs and the Southeastern Conference.
After averaging 9.8 points and 5.9 rebounds for MSU last season, Porter believes those numbers can be improved.
"Last year coming into the SEC, yes I was nervous," Porter said. "Since I've gotten used to the system, I understand the game more so I've become very comfortable playing with my teammates, making sure I'm in the right position and getting the ball into the post at the right time."
Porter did a little bit of everything on Sunday. She even took the time to pick up some debris on the court and threw it away during a brief break in the action.
Fanning-Otis hopes Porter's attitude rubs off on the rest of the team and the little things become important enough so the entire situation improves.
"Whether it's a rebound, a transition bucket or anything a player does well, it can help the team if the role is embraced," Fanning-Otis said. "It's what can I do to help the team to give a lift."
As the lead increased through the course of the afternoon, Fanning-Otis was able to use many different combinations.
Newcomers saw significant minutes, including freshman and former West Oktibbeha player Shamia Robinson who played 13 minutes and scored seven points. Martha Alwal and Kendra Grant were freshmen who started the game.
Fanning-Otis said with so many young players figuring into the plan this season, it will be important how Porter and the other veterans handle them.
"I see (Porter) expecting a lot of others," Fanning-Otis said. "I have to tell her to be patient with young players, how to talk to them and get them in the right spots when they don't know because it is a process.
"I can see more confidence (in Porter). She was a big key in this past spring on us getting to be a better team."
Fellow senior Diamber Johnson led MSU with 24 points and Fanning-Otis expects the production to come from the players who led the way.
"I don't know if their averages will be that high as we go along, but they need to be able to take the shots they were taking," Fanning-Otis said. "For the most part, their experience showed. They are seniors and we need that punch. They need to be consistent."
The Lady Bulldogs have several days of practice to get ready for their season opener against Jacksonville State on Friday.