Basketball is a game of adjustments. In a game scenario, teams adjust game plans on the fly, making changes big and small to counter the natural ebbs and flows of the game. From a team standpoint, regardless of the level of play, rosters change at a frequent rate, causing fluctuation in both a team’s style of play and the role of its individuals.
Freshman Laylay Fantroy makes up one of the plethora of newcomers on a heavily retooled and readjusted roster for Ohio this season. However, amid all the new faces in the locker room, Fantroy is looking at a fundamental role for the Bobcats that is both completely new to her and defying positional standards.
Growing up in Palestine, Texas, Fantroy was a point guard for most of her high school career. As a taller guard at five feet, eleven inches, she was encouraged by her coaches to attack the basket and make plays on the interior.
“I had a coach, Coach Anderson, from high school,” Fantroy said. “She had me playing like I was a point guard, but she had me non-stop driving. She told me no one on the court could stop me from going to the goal, so I kind of stuck with that.”
Her aggressive mentality and ability to get to the rim as a go-to scoring option are what helped Fantroy land a roster spot with the Bobcats, but what will be key for her at the college level is her ability to play a variety of roles for the team. The Bobcats have an abundance of capable ball handlers and distributors on the roster, leading to a more balanced approach to offense and scoring, which has allowed Fantroy to slip into more of an off-ball role.
“It takes some of the pressure off me knowing that I have scorers around me that can also score the ball,” Fantroy said, “It doesn’t take away from me either … I know what I can do, and if I can’t do that at the time, I can give it to someone who I know can.”
Another area where Fantroy has impressed early with the Bobcats is on the defensive end. As one of the more imposing perimeter players on the roster, it might catch some by surprise when they see Fantroy end an offensive possession by picking up the opposing team’s point guard full-court, sliding her feet defensively up the hardwood.
For Fantroy, this is also something new.
“This is my first time starting on the point guard, guarding the ball. I’m normally an inside guard or I guard the post; I’m kind of a rim protector,” Fantroy said. “I’m starting to take pride in my defense on the ball, rebounding too.”
This kind of defensive versatility is something the Bobcats lacked last season, as they would finish their season with a record of 6-23, conceding 73.4 points per game to their opponents. Fantroy will look to have an immediate impact on that end, and she hopes to work toward defensive improvement and a winning record.
“I definitely want a winning season,” Fantroy said. “I want to win the MAC (Mid-American Conference) championship.”
Those are lofty goals for anyone, much less a freshman just starting to dip her toes into college basketball. But, Fantroy and the Bobcats have the talent to be the surprise of the season in the MAC. As to how Fantroy intends on doing that from an individual standpoint, Fantroy knows she’s not going to be the epicenter of offensive attention right away, so producing in any way she can is going to be vital for the team.
“I definitely want to be one of the leading scorers on the team, and I know I can,” Fantroy said. “I know that I can have a pretty big role on the team, so I just want to make sure my numbers are up and I’m also getting the team involved whenever I can.”
Versatility is the name of the game in basketball, and Fantroy brings it in spades. Following a last-in-conference finish in their previous season, the Bobcats have the opportunity to experiment with the usage of their new-look roster.
Fantroy’s ability to wear many hats for this team – guarding point guards, playing big on the glass and protecting the paint, scoring inside and getting teammates involved – is going to be vital.