UNI’s Kirschbaum matured this Game Time season
A dominant basketball team always has an inside presence. The Chicago Bulls had Dennis Rodman, the Lakers had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. Even the newly crowned NBA champions had Chris Bosh.
In Wednesday’s Game Time League championship, the Vinton Merchants/McCurry’s team had University of Northern Iowa junior-to-be forward Amber Kirschbaum dominating the paint in its 89-65 win.
“To play in a game [like the championship], it’s huge to have a dominating post like Amber,” star Iowa guard Sam Logic said. “Her rebounding gives us a lot of extra possessions.”
In the championship game, Kirschbaum led all scorers with 21 points while shooting 7-of-13 from the field. She also added 6 rebounds.
Kirschbaum is very active around the paint, and this summer, she led the league with 11.6 rebounds per game. Her play allows her teammates to get more shots and also keeps the ball away from the opposing team. The 6-0 Kirschbaum has had to go up against numerous women who are taller than her, such as Iowa players Morgan Johnson and Bethany Doolittle — both of whom are at least 4 inches taller. She held her own, though, and learned much during the past six weeks.
“I feel I’ve improved my game a lot, definitely in the rebounding category,” Kirschbaum said. “Boxing out a lot more people has given me a better advantage on the boards. I’ve improved a lot this summer.”
She has not only improved on the boards, she’s been able to work on her all-around game. Her offense has improved given that she was the force in the paint on both sides of the court. She averaged a double-double this season with 14 points per game in addition to her double-digit boards.
Another aspect of her game that improved this summer was her offensive awareness. Playing with an up-tempo point guard such as Logic has its benefits. The other four players around Logic have to always be conscious of where the ball is because they could get it at any minute.
“She definitely made me more aware on the court and to be ready for any pass,” said Kirschbaum. “She has some really crazy passes, but they’re amazing. She makes you be ready for anything.”
Kirschbaum made her presence felt on opposing players who would constantly have their hands full on both sides of the court when she is in the game.
“She is a great competition and a great chance to play against someone with experience,” incoming Iowa freshman Kali Peschel said. “She wants the ball, and her aspect of going after it is something I can really learn from.”
Kirschbaum devastated her own teammates as well. Given the number of UNI players in the league, she was able to show some of her teammates what she hopes to bring into the upcoming season.
“It’s unfortunate that [the championship] was against us, but I’m happy for her,” UNI red-shirt freshman Brooke Brown said. “She has improved in every aspect of her game. She’ll be a good leader this year, and she has definitely worked on her outside shooting. She is also always rebounding.”
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