Steinauer improves in freshman campaign
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
Kiana Steinauer, who was born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, said she was happy to receive the honor of being a Player of the Week but is simply focused on her team.
“I just want to get as many wins as we can to make the playoffs,” she said. “Being the freshman class we just try to get together and bring as much success to the team as we can.”
Head coach Kate Lynch, who graduated Southern in 2008 and took over as head women’s basketball coach last season, said Steinauer has been coming around of late.
“It is always difficult when you come in your freshman year: the game is a little bit faster and it’s different. Your coaching staff is asking you to guard things a certain way and to know these plays and all these different things,” Lynch said. “It typically takes a little while for freshmen to kind of adjust to that college level.”
Steinauer has been building her strong freshman campaign with a lot of efficiency, according to her stat line. In 22 games so far, the young Owl starter has averaged 5.7 points per game, with a .476 field goal percentage (.250 shooting the three ball.) She has also recorded six rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.9 steals, on average.
Coming in, she said she was expecting a team environment she could see herself thriving in. Steinauer cited her strong approval of the coaching staff as an important decision maker in her recruitment process. In addition to Lynch, Stephanie Hiriak assists the team. Another Southern alumna, Hiriak, like Lynch, was part of the 2007 women’s championship team that won it all.
Since her graduation in 2010, Hiriak has coached all throughout the state, with stops at Hopkins and Foran, in New Haven and Milford, respectively, and at the University of Bridgeport, where she spent four seasons helping coach a 50-win team that made two appearances in the East Coast Conference Tournament.
“I know that coach’s goal is to win a national championship so that’s what we’re trying to do and hopefully we can get to that [accomplishment] eventually,” she said.
Additionally, Steinauer said she has been pleased with the way the captions have treated her. She said the team works really hard in practice and that everyone is treated equally.
Lynch said it is a rare sight to have a freshman come in and make such an impact, reiterating her earlier point on adjusting to the pace of the college game.
“We always expect our freshmen to get it but when they actually do it is fun to see.” Additionally, Lynch said Steinauer has been making a “really big impact” and she is happy to see it is happening before the end of the season.
“We knew we had a spot to fill,” Lynch said. “We graduated Jackie Bethea, who became Southern’s all-time leading rebounder, averaging 16 boards a game. To see Kiena the last couple weeks average 15 points and six rebounds you feel like OK and we can fill that hole a little bit from Jackie.”
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications