She most likely will not be the loud, outspoken person in the room and for most of her basketball career, she has not been a vocal leader on the hardwood. But center Nikki Greeneis feeling more comfortable and the numbers are reflecting upon that.
Listed at 6-foot-4, the senior has racked up big-time numbers in her tenure as a Lady Lion and for the most part has been flying under the radar.
With fellow teammates like guards Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley, it could be difficult to grab some of the spotlight. This is especially true when the duo have both scored over 1,000-points each in their careers and are ranked tenth and eleventh in the program’s all-time history respectively.
But where does Greene stand in terms of Lucas and Bentley? She is right up there with them, believe it or not.
While she may not be the most-talkative person, her play on the floor is not a mirror image of her personality.
“She’s had in some ways a very quietly impressive career, where you have maybe two other players on the same team with you that are kind of hitting it out of the park and their accolades are a lot louder,” head coach Coquese Washington said comparing the career of Greene to those of Bentley and Lucas. “But Nikki has quietly had a very impressive career, one of the best careers of any post player in Penn State history.”
With her nine points in the No. 8 Lions’ (18-3, 8-1 Big Ten) 64-59 win over Minnesota two weeks ago, Greene became the 35th player in the program’s history to reach the 1,000-point career plateau. But Greene’s accolades do not stop there.
She is just one block shy of becoming the first player in school history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 200 blocks in her career. Currently, Greene ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounds per game with an average of 8.7 and sits 13th in blocks with 1.1 rejections per game.
“When you think about that and you think about all of the great players that have played here, all of the great post players that have played here, and she’s the only one to be able to do that, she’s had a very quietly impressive career, a very quietly impactful career,” Washington said. “I’m just thrilled that she’s been able to come here and have that kind of impact on our program.”
Through her play and experience, Greene has gained more confidence and has transitioned from being soft spoken to more of a vocal leader on the floor. While one will still hear Bentley and Lucas doing most of the signal calling during games, Washington said that she has witnessed a transformation in Greene’s ability to be more vocal from her freshman season until now.
Other aspects of her game are a major component as to why Greene has been able to become more confident and vocal on the floor. Her shot has improved in her time at Penn State, especially from the free throw line, but that is not all. She has also improved in many areas of play and she is now able to carry a dominant presence over late in games –– something that she could not do as a freshman because of poor free throw shooting.
“She’s worked really hard on her free throw shooting to become a more capable free throw shooter. Her freshman year we couldn’t have her on the floor at the end of games because they would foul her and put her to the line,” Washington said of how much Greene’s improvements have helped the team.
“I think one of the reasons we’re able to close out games and we’re able to do things is because Nikki Greene is on the floor. She’s such a defensive presence for us, she’s a great rebounder and she helps us finish out possessions and I think that’s a testament to her maturity and her growth.”