The best way to get a response out of Jen Schlott is to issue her a challenge.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard can be very unassuming in her downtime. She’s not the most verbal player on the Utah State women’s basketball team.
Jen Schlott on the rise
» Recently named by ESPN one of the top five mid-major players
» Ranked No. 10 in scoring (23.4 ppg)
» Ranked No. 11 in assists (6.7 apg)
» Only 40 assists away from the program record
» The top single-game scorer in program history (44 against UC Santa Barbara)
But her coach, Jerry Finkbeiner, sees the way Schlott’s eyes burn during timeouts, as the Aggies look to close out tough games. He saw it against Utah, in a huddle with eight minutes left, how badly she wanted to win.
He challenged the team to close out the game. She ended up scoring 37 points that night.
"Jen doesn’t turn the switch on and off like that anymore," he said. "She’s starting to think, ‘I can control a game. I can take over.’"
Utah State has seen a lot of those moments out of Schlott this year. With a 23.4-point, 6.7-assist, 4.2-rebound stat line, she has found that extra motivation to help the Aggies (8-5, 2-0) to a solid start this year.
She can slash. She can shoot. And when she doesn’t score, she has an uncanny knack for setting up her teammates.
The program lost an all-time great in Devyn Christensen to graduation last year, but Schlott has found ways to increase her own production while taking on a greater leadership role.
"I just try to have an attacking mentality," she said. "I try to attack in everything I do. I’m a senior now, and I need to lead in different ways."
The Arizona native was not always so assertive. Her first two years, she was mainly a reserve who averaged single-digit points. She began to thrive as a junior when she started more regularly and got accustomed to Finkbeiner’s more fast-paced style.
The coach tried to get her into a scoring mindset.
"I like scoring one-guards, because the ball is in her hands so she’s the first option," Finkbeiner said. "She’s understanding her role better. She gets what we need her to do."
That didn’t mean all the adjustments were easy. Schlott said she spent more time in the weight room than ever this past offseason — another challenge from Finkbeiner — trying to build up her physical stamina for the rigors of the Mountain West. In previous years, she might’ve been bumped around a bit more, but now she can bump back.
The results have been impressive. Schlott became the program record-holder for the most points in a game when she dropped 44 on UC Santa Barbara. In all, she’s the No. 10 scorer nationally and No. 11 in assists. She’s crossed the 1,000-point threshold at Utah State, and is 40 assists away from tying the program’s career assist record.
Schlott has thoughts ahead of playing professionally, and at this pace, she’s well on the way to doing it. But she’s more concerned presently with her team’s 2-0 start in the Mountain West — and how to stay on that track.
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