Fontaine 'one of the all-time greats,' women's basketball coach says

<p>Senior guard Nathalie Fontaine shooting over a Miami defender in Worthen Arena on Jan. 09. DN FILE PHOTO BY BREANNA DAUGHERTY</p>

Senior guard Nathalie Fontaine shooting over a Miami defender in Worthen Arena on Jan. 09. DN FILE PHOTO BY BREANNA DAUGHERTY

Senior women’s basketball guard Nathalie Fontaine is the second player in Ball State history to score 2,000 career points. She is also the 15th player in Mid-American Conference history to clear the mark.

Head coach Brady Sallee said Fontaine is a special player.

“That point total just puts a number on it that quantifies how special she is,” he said. “There’s no doubt she’s one of the all-time greats.”

At the heart of her elite play, he said, is her competitive nature.

“I think across the board, when you look at a great player – whether it’s a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, whatever – it starts with a competitiveness that separates them from others, and you can just see it,” he said.

Despite two consecutive double-doubles, the Cardinals (16-7, 8-4 MAC) have lost their last two games. Sallee said the team is at its best when Fontaine doesn’t have to put the team on her back.

“Sometimes, when you have a player this good, you have that mentality – let’s throw her the ball and let her fix it,” he said. “Well, it doesn’t work. It’s a team game and clearly we’re at our best when everybody is putting up numbers and doing their job. We’re in a funk right now, there’s no doubt about it.”

Fontaine’s career totals, said Sallee, helps keep the Cardinals focused. With six regular season games remaining, Ball State is two games behind Central Michigan (17-7, 11-2 MAC) in the MAC West standings.

“They all want to perform for a lot of reasons, but she’s a part of it,” he said. “Whether you call it pressure or their motivation, I think they want to do it for [Fontaine] … it kills them to see her do what she’s doing.”

Still, Sallee said Fontaine is a player he’ll never forget.

“She’s one of those special kids that, when I’m old and they’re wheeling me around somewhere, I’ll remember my time with her and it’ll rank right up there with some of the other great players I’ve coached,” he said. “You’ve got to remember sometimes to step back and appreciate a player like that while they’re going through their career.”


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