Ex-Lincoln star Peek makes smooth transition to college game

December 31, 2003|JILL ERWIN

LEXINGTON - So much remains the same for Cassandra Peek.

The Austin Peay point guard looks almost identical to the player that tore through the 12th Region and led Lincoln County High School to the state tournament in her senior year.

She has the same brown hair, pulled back into a knot. The same run. The same court vision. The same passing ability.

And yet, so much has changed for Peek since she arrived in Clarksville, Tenn., three years ago.

Always one of Lincoln's top offensive options, the 5-5 junior has adjusted to the pass-first, shoot-second method of collegiate point guards in becoming the Lady Govs' on-court leader.


"My freshman year it took a little time to adjust, but I knew that wasn't my role, to come in and be the first offensive option," Peek said. "You just have to accept that role, and that's fine with me.

"I know I have other players on the floor that can step up and make the shots and I just give them the ball. I'd rather have a bunch of assists than score a bunch of points."

"Cassandra brings so much to our team," first-year Austin Peay coach Andy Blackston said. "She's one of the leaders on our team, and she has so much heart. That's what I love about her. She's a competitor; she loves to play.

"She is so much about what I want our team to be about, which is unselfishness, do what's best for the team and work hard every day. I'm just really excited to be able to coach her."

Peek's excited to be at Austin Peay, and she was excited to play in Lexington against Kentucky on Tuesday night. Although the Lady Govs lost 82-56, Peek had a large contingent of fans in the crowd of 6,712.

She said she knew her mom and dad and their families were all in the house, as were several other people from Lincoln who told her over the holiday break that they would be at the game. She had five points on 2-of-4 shooting (including 1-of-3 on 3-pointers), three rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes.

"It's amazing to be able to come back and play so close to home and have people come back and support you," Peek said. "It means a lot to me that they still support me and that they care for me in that way."

Her high school coach, John Kolasa, couldn't make it, as Lincoln is playing in a tournament at South Oldham. But Peek said she tries to keep up with Lincoln's play through the Internet and the newspaper as well as updates from her mother. Peek said she also calls Kolasa every once in a while.

But she also knows her high school days are long gone. She said the pace of the college game is a different monster than she was used to, and she used her first two seasons to get her ready for her move into the starting lineup this year.

"My freshman year, I was playing behind a fifth-year senior, and that helped me a lot in knowing how to get everyone where they need to be and just learning the roles on the team," Peek said. "It's just been a stepping-stone each year, stepping up in normal amounts to where I am now, a leader on the team and being vocal."

Peek had to be vocal from the bench for the final 6:18 of the first half against Kentucky after picking up her second foul. Now that she's in the starting lineup, she said taking a seat on the bench is not high on her list of priorities.

"It's frustrating," Peek said. "You want to be out there, controlling the game and the tempo. It kills me to sit on the bench, especially after picking up my second foul. It's just frustrating, but it's something you just have to play through."

It sounds like Blackston doesn't expect anything less from Peek than that desire to keep going.

"She's a kid that will never give up," Blackston said. "She's always going to be in there fighting. Those are the type of kids you want on your team, and you have to have those type of kids to be successful."

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