The finished product, you can see everywhere now.
Amanda Hyde’s name is on a press release coming out of the Summit League office, announcing that she’s the preseason conference player of the year. Her picture smiles at you outside the Gates Center gym, along with congratulations on her player of the year season of 2012-13. Her numbers practically overflow the stat sheet: Sixteenth player in IPFW history to score 1,000 points, first in career free-throw percentage (.855), seventh in single-season points (558), tied for first in career single-game scoring (43), on and on.
What you don’t see is how she did all that.
The hours in the gym. The footwork drills. The cone drills. The shooting drills. And, way back, all those hard hours in the driveway, where it never would have dawned on her two older brothers to show her a moment’s mercy.
Oh, all the time, Hyde says cheerfully, when asked if her brothers pushed her around some.
But I thank them. I give them so much credit, not that I would probably tell them that to their faces. They made me tough.
And she made herself the best player in the Summit League, and there’s no abiding mystery why. She looked around at the end of her sophomore year, saw what IPFW didn’t have coming back last year, and figured somebody had to fill the void. Why not her?
Sometimes we look at Amanda, and we think it’s all natural and God-given. But she worked really, really hard to get to the point where she’s at now, coach Chris Paul says. When she came here freshman year, we knew she was a good player. But she was an average three-point shooter, and she was average really at the mid-range game. She was really good at taking people to the basket, but the mid-range and that explosiveness and that three-point game she really didn’t have.
Now she can do everything.
Well, not everything. Hyde being Hyde, she still sees herself as a work in progress, in no small part because that player of the year tag will hang on her back like a giant bull’s-eye. So, once again, she’ll have to refine her game, become less the slasher every school in conference knows her to be, render the book on her at the very least incomplete.
I like to attack the basket a lot, and teams know that now more than ever, says Hyde, who averaged 18.6 points last year for a 13-17 team that went 8-8 in conference and returns virtually everyone. And so when I drive I’m expecting them to collapse. So I have to be able to see the court well enough to find my teammates.
I have a tendency of putting my head down and going straight to the basket. I’m definitely gonna have to look to shoot the pull-up a lot more and hit my threes so teams will come out and I’ll have a more open lane to the basket.
For that, she’ll fall back on the familiar rhythms of her work ethic, and get an assist from family, too. Born into an athletic clan – her dad, Brian, played volleyball for Ball State, and his high school coach was IPFW volleyball coach Arnie Ball – she still plays one-on-one with her brother, Nathan, who lives in Fort Wayne and played on a Division II national champion at Findlay (Ohio) University.
It’s just always been a thing in our family, Hyde said. I grew up watching my brothers play every single weekend in AAU tournaments, and it’s all I ever wanted.
And so back to the gym she’ll go. As ever.
Each time I’m on offense, I know I’m gonna get the best defender on the other team, she says. But I’m not worried about it. I’m looking forward to it.