Buggs gives women’s basketball an offensive boost

By Jacob Onak

This season, NIU women’s basketball has access to red shirt sophomore forward Jada Buggs, and the Elkhart, Ind., native has made an immediate impact for the Huskies squad.

Buggs transferred in from Wisconsin after her freshman season but because of NCAA transfer rules she had to sit last season out. She appeared for the Badgers 15 times in the 2010-11 season, averaging around five minutes a game.

Buggs’ decision to transfer into NIU came from her past relationship with coach Kathi Bennett.

“My main reason to come here was coach Bennett,” Buggs said. “She recruited me to go to Wisconsin, actually, and when it didn’t work out for me, she came here and I kind of followed her here. So, it worked out perfectly.”

This season, Buggs has played in all four games, starting in three of them. She is averaging 24.3 minutes and is averaging almost 10 points a game. Buggs, who also has four assists on the season, said her offensive game comes from her wanting to get her teammates involved.

“Offensively, I would say I’m more of a pass-first player for some reason,” Buggs said. “I have no idea why, I just enjoy passing, and then also can penetrate [with the ball].”

The 6-foot-tall forward is coming off of one of the best games of her career in the Huskies’ 58-59 loss to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. She scored 16 points in a team-high 32 minutes. Buggs showed her ability to change a game when she went on her own 8-0 run in the first half of the game.

When paired a with forward sophomore Jenna Thorp and forward/guard senior Satavia Taylor the Huskies have gotten good offensive output from their forwards in the early season. Thorp has started all four games for the Huskies, averaging almost seven points a game, while Taylor has started all four games with an average of 11.8 points a game.

Transferring schools can be a difficult process for any student, let alone an athlete, but because of the NCAA transfer rule, Buggs said the year off gave her plenty of time to adjust and to get to know her new teammates.

“Coach Bennett plays pack defense here and they also did at Wisconsin too, so I mean defensively it was pretty much the same,” Buggs said. “As far as getting to know my teammates and everything, sitting out really helped ‘cause transferring here I was a bit behind and kind of homesick, I would say. It just took a lot to adapt to being here so it really helped a lot.”

Bennett’s roots have also brought in transfer Lacia Gorman from Wisconsin. Gorman is currently sitting out due to the transfer rule but will be another strong addition next season for the Huskies.

The strong play of Buggs will need to continue this week as the Huskies will take on high-scoring Bradley (3-3) in Peoria on Wednesday and Loyola University (3-2) at home on Friday.