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The Unusual Center

Posted: February 29, 2008 9:55 a.m.
Updated: May 1, 2008 5:02 a.m.

College of the Canyons women's basketball player Andrea Bobic has averaged 20.2 points and 15 rebounds a game in Western State Conference play this year. The sophomore is playing the post position for COC.

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It's safe to say College of the Canyons head women's basketball coach Greg Herrick knows a Most Valuable Player when he sees one.

So maybe if he's miffed that sophomore Andrea Bobic didn't get the Western State Conference's top honor, there's a good reason.

He's had six MVPs in his 16-year tenure at the helm of the Cougars and he thinks Bobic's performance this year may have been the most impressive of all.

"Her season statistically blew all of them away," he says.

Bobic averaged a team-high 20.2 points a game in conference play and 15 rebounds and she also picked up the first-team all-state honors as a result.

"That tells you she's one of the top players in Southern California but she's not the MVP of our league?" Herrick says. "It vindicates what I'm saying. She's worked very hard."

Maybe what's most impressive of all is Bobic probably doesn't have any business averaging a double-double. Then again, she probably doesn't have any business being at the post postion.

She's playing the five, but the sophomore is 5-foot-8 and drops 3-pointers at a team-high 40.5 percent clip.

Needless to say, the Lancaster High graduate isn't your run-of-the-mill banger on the inside. Instead of setting screens and posting up, Bobic usually inbounds the ball and trails, waiting at the top of the arc for her teammates to kick it back out.

"It's not a track meet. It's not a jumping jack competition. It's a game," Herrick says. "Some people don't look the part but they can play the game. And she can play the game."

Bobic ideally would be playing the two guard or at small forward because of her shooting abilities, but she plays the five because when she came in as a freshman, that was the only spot open for her.

The Cougars had last year's conference MVP and first-team all-state member Leslie Ortiz. Facion Edwards, another WSC-first team performer, played the three.

"Where was she going to play?" says Herrick of Bobic. "But we had to get her on the court because she was too good. And it worked out."

So one day in conditioning before the 2006-07 season even started, Herrick decided to make Bobic his post player.

The former Golden League MVP was told she was coming in to "shoot all day" for the Cougars, so at the least, the idea was a little unexpected.

"It was more like, are you serious?" Bobic says. "We were just trying to find a spot for me that would work."
It's worked out well.

Last year she was one of four Cougars named to the Western State Conference's First Team. This season, she was named first-team all-conference. She finished her regular-season career for COC with a 25-point, 26-rebound night against Glendale College on Feb. 23.

"She knows the game well enough that she can play any postion," says John Gallen, Bobic's high school coach at Lancaster. "You don't have to explain for her. She just understands the game very well."

Both Gallen and Herrick alike praise her basketball IQ, which Herrick says is one of the highest he's ever coached.

The COC head coach says Bobic is so effective on the boards because she knows where the ball is going to be before it gets there, which gives her a step on everyone else.

The Cougars open the first round of playoffs at Saddleback College on Saturday and will need Bobic's 17.7 points and 12 rebounds a contest that she's been averaging over the entire season to help with a playoff run.

And to think, Herrick was not far off from having to play these last two seasons without Bobic.

One of the Lancaster High valedictorians, Bobic certainly didn't need to come to COC to get her grades in order. She finished high school with a 4.2 grade point average.

Bobic had the option of walking on at UCSD. The head coach offered a scholarship to another player over Bobic, but told the soon-to-be college freshman that she could redshirt and maybe earn a scholarship later on.

Still, with financial aid and academic scholarships, Bobic said most of her college would have been paid for. She was set on giving up basketball and focusing on school.

Her dorm had been assigned to her already. Bobic had done everything but buy her books and pack her clothes for four years in San Diego.

"Toward the end of my senior year I thought basketball wasn't going to work out for me," Bobic says. "I thought I wasn't good enough to play at the next level."

All that has changed.

"I looked in her eyes and I knew she still wanted to play basketball," Herrick says. "I just think she wanted to keep playing. Thank God she made that decision."

She's seen some interest from Fresno State and Alaska-Anchorage, but Bobic is waiting to see how playoffs go before completely turning her focus to what four-year school she'll move onto.

As for Herrick, he's enjoyed two seasons with a not-so usual post player.

Next year he might go back to having his five player set screens and be a banger on the inside.

Or maybe not.

"She's been a good five for us," says Herrick of Bobic. "I'm looking for another one."

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