Veteran leadership, hustle from Samz is turning into success for Ball State

<p>Graduate guard Jasmin Samz goes up to the rim against Eastern Michigan Jan. 11, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State beat Eastern Michigan 59-54. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Graduate guard Jasmin Samz goes up to the rim against Eastern Michigan Jan. 11, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State beat Eastern Michigan 59-54. Jacob Musselman, DN

When graduate student guard Jasmin Samz hits the hardwood for a game, she’s got one focus. That is to help her team in the best way she can to help it be victorious. Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Eastern Michigan continued to prove why she is a leader for Ball State Women’s Basketball. In a physical conference matchup, Samz used her hustle and next-play mentality to lift the Cardinals over the Eagles to remain unbeaten in conference play. 

“I think it’s just something that Brady puts us in every day,” Samz said. “We play end-of-game situations all the time. It’s communication and trust between us. The young ones, Annie and Syd and them listening to me, there’s a lot of trust between us, and it’s something we practice every day.” 

Samz was at the top of the stat sheet in three different categories Saturday. She co-led the team with 13 points, 11 of those coming in the second half of play. The guard also collected two assists on the afternoon and one steal. Samz also drew a charge in the final minute that allowed Ball State to grasp a two-possession lead. Her play, along with the intensity and toughness of her teammates, is a big factor as to why they have seen early conference success.

“They’re writing the definition of Ball State toughness in their locker room,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “It’s not a coach telling them here’s what it is. They’re writing, and I’m just enjoying watching it. We have some really good leadership. I think this team is connected, and it gets you a long way.” 

Sophomore forward Blake Smith takes out a defender Jan. 11, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. The cardinals beat the Eagles 59-54. Jacob Musselman, DN

Over the course of the team's seven-game win streak, Samz has scored in double figures in all of those contests. The guard is averaging 11 points per game after a slow start to the season scoring-wise. Samz has also picked up at least two rebounds in each game in the win streak. 

“I don’t really care about the stats to be completely honest. I’ve always been a kid that toughness is what I was built on,” Samz said. “If I score 13 points, I score 13 points, but I’m just out there to be tough as nails and hope that no one else is tougher because I’ve put in the work to be there.” 

When you look at the Cardinals' roster, there are only two seniors and one graduate student listed. Combining the freshman and sophomores, they account for nine players on the roster. Samz knows that and hopes her leadership and hustle will rub off on the younger ones, including freshman forward Annie Rauch. Rauch scored nine points in the win and went 4-for-4 from the field. 

“Jasmin, I think, out of all of the leaders on the team is the most vocal, especially with us young players,” Rauch said. “I'm one to get hype pretty easy. Hearing Jasmin yell and seeing her get fired up after big plays like a charge, it’s easy to be excited when you have someone like that push the whole team forward. It’s really easy to just follow suit.” 

Samz is now averaging 15.3 points per game in conference play compared to her 11.1 she averaged in the non-conference schedule. She is able to use her experience from her entire collegiate career to help the Cardinals be successful. Her toughness has allowed the Cardinals to jump out to a 3-0 start to the conference schedule and match their conference win total from a year ago. 

“[Leadership] doesn’t always have to come from me, but most of the time, it does because I’m thinking a million miles an hour, and I’ve been in a lot of these positions,” Samz said. “It’s just kind of using my experience, and lending it to them and hoping that they hold onto it.” 

Contact Grant Covey with comments at gacovey@bsu.edu or on Twitter @grant_covey.

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