By Ronald Hanaki
KU Women’s Basketball junior guard, Taylor Thames, became a starter for the first time this past season and helped lead the Golden Bears to the PSAC Quarterfinals back in February.
Thames was an outstanding guard in high school and was highly recruited by West Chester, Bloomsburg and ESU. But Thames visited Kutztown and fell in love with the campus, team and coaching staff.
“We have created a family atmosphere here,” said Thames. “We mesh together well as a team.”
Thames has improved steadily as a player each year. The Colmar, Pa. native began her collegiate career as an off guard, but an injury to the team’s starting point guard seven games into the season gave Thames an opportunity to become a starter.
KU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Janet Malouf said, “I saw Taylor play in high school. She played both guard positions, so I knew that she could play the point.”
“She is willing to help us with everything we need,” continued Malouf. “She is very helpful.”
“It goes to show you that hard work pays off,” stated Malouf.
Thames said that one of her most memorable games happened last year. The team was down by 25 points to Mansfield late in the third quarter, but Thames led Kutztown in a historic comeback. She scored a team-leading 16 points and helped the Golden Bears defeat the Mountaineers 69-68 in an instant classic.
“It was a good feeling to win that game,” said Thames.
The second most memorable game for Thames was beating Bloomsburg in the first round of the 2018 PSAC Tournament. Thames played 33 minutes and finished with seven points, three assists and four rebounds in beating the Huskies 73-60.
In addition to her basketball accomplishments, Thames is an outstanding student. She was named to the Lehigh Valley Small College Basketball Organization Scholar-Athlete Team back in January.
“Basketball is not your whole life, so you need to have a plan,” said Thames.
But Thames confessed that balancing athletics with academics was difficult.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to be a student-athlete,” said Thames.
She said, “It’s not easy, but if you are committed to doing well, you will make it work.”
The sport management major plans to become an event coordinator in the future. But if things get difficult, Thames knows where to turn for help. Her mother is a professor at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Off the court, Thames likes to lift weights and hang out with her friends. She also likes the food at Chipotle.
But this offseason, Malouf is working hard with Thames to improve her play at the point guard position.
“I want to improve my ball-handling and make quicker decisions on the court,” said Thames. “That will create more opportunities for my teammates.”
The bar has been set higher for the team next season.
Malouf said, “We have the same core group coming back, and we are used to playing with each other.”
“We want to use our strengths better. We want to use our speed and work in the press to get steals and more points,” said Malouf.
“Our goal is to make it further next year. Hopefully, we can win a PSAC title and make nationals,” said Malouf.