Griffin sees extended playing time in freshman season


Kevin Hall

Bh’rea Griffin, a freshmen guard, talks major playing time in recent games and how she manages her extended minutes. Griffin has averaged over 20 minutes in the last 5 women’s basketball games.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

Eastern women’s basketball player Bh’rea Griffin was told to her face, because of her size, she would not even be able to play Division I basketball and should consider playing Division II or Division III.

Well, the 5-foot-3 freshman has been getting extended playing in her first season, and she has been the first player to come off the bench, lately.

“I just feel like, when I am playing against everyone, I couldn’t get the ball past certain people,” she said. “People would take the ball from me, because I was so little. I had to work on becoming stronger and knowing how to play with my height. I had to use that to an advantage. Now I feel like I am faster than everybody.”

Over the past eight games, Griffin is averaging 26 minutes a game, and she said she is surprised of how much time on the floor she is getting.

“I came in kind of humble,” Griffin said. “I decided to work hard. I feel like every time I am on the court it shows them reasons why I should be out there.”

She played a season high 31 minutes in the game against Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 15 and scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

Fellow freshman guard Grace Lennox has seen those improvements from Griffin throughout the season.

“She is probably our biggest spark off the bench as she can make plays and hit shots,” Lennox said. “Each game she has improved with her reliability. She is a huge asset to our team.”

Coming off the bench through the first 21 games this season, Griffin is averaging 5.8 points per game and over the first eight conference games, she averages nine points a game.

Senior forward Sabina Oroszova said Griffin has been a very efficient player for her team in conference.

“With her coming off the bench, we have a wide rotation and her game changes up the team a bit,” Oroszova said. “She has been using her strengths effectively to become a better player but also help the team out.”

Griffin went to Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Ill., and she was rated one of the top 50 players in the Chicago land area as a senior.

Griffin played on the varsity squad as a sophomore at Morgan Park and said her most memorable moment was when she started a game against one of the top teams in the state of Illinois, Whitney Young High School.

“As a sophomore, I felt like ‘okay, I didn’t make varsity my freshman year and my sophomore year I am basically starting in this game’, so I just used that to prove a lot of people wrong as to why I should have been on varsity year,” Griffin said.

Her senior year, she averaged 13.3 points, 6.8 assists and 4.5 steals per game. Her team was eliminated in the sectional semifinals last year by New Lenox High School.  Griffin scored 12 points in the game.

Griffin had offers from other schools such as Arkansas Pine Bluff and other schools, but she chose to come to Eastern because of the proximity to her hometown of Chicago. Griffin did not receive any offers from Chicago-area colleges.

“Between Arkansas and Eastern, I realized that they just won conference (regular season title) in 2012,” she said. “I figured maybe still had players left over from that championship team.”

Oroszova, Alece Shumpert and Deanna Willis are the three remaining players from the team in 2012.

Griffin came into Eastern in the summer of this school year.  Eastern coach Debbie Black said Griffin has tremendous instincts on the floor.

“I think she has a lot of potential ahead of her,” Black said. “She sits back and studies what is going on and then goes out there. I think she is learning game by game. She has grown a lot since the time she has came here.”

Although Griffin does not have any pre-game rituals, she said before the game she simply said she just gets focused.

“People try to talk to me, and I might be short with them,” she said. “I am not trying to be rude. I am just trying to get focused for the game.”

Outside the 40 minutes of game action, Lennox said Griffin is a really easy going, friendly person that wants to hang out with everyone and anyone.

“She is just a cool girl to hang out with, whether it is off the court just hanging out, or whether it is taking extra shots outside of practice,” Lennox said. “On the court, we both are point guards, so theoretically we are meant to be fighting for the same position, but we don’t see it that way. We both love playing with each other and work well together.”

Griffin’s dad Montell Griffin retired from professional boxing and finished his career with a record of 50-8 and had 30 knockouts.

Her parents Troye Tuccio and Montel are the two people in Griffin’s life that she looks up too.

“My mom is always in my corner no matter what,” she said. “I seen her go through a lot of things and she still managed to take care of me and my two brothers.”

Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].