Danish-born Anne Pedersen knows she’s been in America a long time — going on five years now — because she’s started to dream in English.
“The first day when I wake up (at home), when I come from here, I’ll speak English and my mom will say, ‘You’re home now; speak Danish’ ” Pedersen said.
One wonders if Pedersen ever dreamed she’d be playing like this for the LSU women’s basketball team.
The Lady Tigers’ junior is clearly enjoying her best college season, filling a key inside-outside role for an LSU team trying to stay inside the NCAA tournament bubble line.
At 6-foot-1, Pedersen can play guard and small forward. Her ability to go down low and pop outside for a jump shot fills a void left by the graduation last season of two-time All-Southeastern Conference forward Theresa Plaisance.
“She’s the one big who can consistently make that jump shot,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said.
“I like that we’re trying to give her more shot attempts, find her on the baseline or trail. She’s earned the right to get those shots.”
Pedersen’s numbers aren’t flashy but steady. She averages 5.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, failing to score only once, but her 20 starts are only eclipsed by sophomore guard Raigyne Moncrief’s 23.
Her game may be trending up going into Thursday’s key home game with Georgia (7 p.m., SEC Network+). Pedersen has scored in double figures twice in LSU’s last three games — 11 points each time.
Caldwell likes what Pedersen is giving the Lady Tigers at both ends of the court, particularly on defense.
“She’s very smart,” Caldwell said. “When you have players who gamble like Moncrief and DaShawn Harden or Danielle Ballard, you have to have that player who gives you that security. On the back end of our zone she gives us that effort.”
A former member of the Denmark national team, Pedersen competed in tennis and gymnastics back home in Denmark before coming to high school in the U.S. in 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.
She suffered a knee injury during her senior season and reinjured it later that year after arriving at LSU, forcing her to redshirt in 2011-12. She averaged 1.7 points per game in 2012-13 and 2.3 points per game last season, both in reserve roles, before becoming a starter this season.
Her confidence subsequently has grown.
“I think I’ve been put in a slightly different position where I can play my game,” Pedersen said. “Having the support of my teammates and coaches has been the most important part.”
LSU’s NCAA RPI held at No. 65 on Tuesday, but the Lady Tigers continue to be projected in the NCAA field.
ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme pegs LSU as a No. 11 seed in the Albany Regional, taking on No. 6 Washington in Iowa City.
A big reason for LSU being among Creme’s last four in: top 50 wins over No. 9 Kentucky, No. 32 Mississippi State and No. 45 Vanderbilt. Georgia was No. 49 in Tuesday’s RPI.
The Lady Tigers will be wearing pink uniforms Thursday for breast cancer awareness.
Monday, LSU players visited patients at Woman’s Hospital.
“It’s a greater cause than our basketball game,” Pedersen said.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv