Before this season began, it appeared senior guard Tatyana Lofton could be penciled into Tulane's women's basketball team's starting lineup.
However, the emergence of three sophomores into the starting lineup changed the face and dynamic of the Green Wave. Lofton comes off the bench, along with three freshmen who surprisingly have been solid contributors.
Lofton said she's not disappointed at not being a starter in her senior season.
“Oh, not at all,” she said. “Everything happens for a reason. I mean, we're winning. That's all that matters to me.
“My role is definitely trying to help out with being a leader. I try to help the younger players, even with transitioning from different styles of playing, learning the play calls and just getting adjusted to the college level.”
She has lent an assuring hand to freshmen Erin Gutierrez, Dynah Jones and Mia Heide off the bench. However, Lofton often is substituted into the first unit, too.
Heading into Saturday's game at Alabama (4-4), Coach Lisa Stockton says Lofton's attributes make her invaluable for the Green Wave (7-1), which is on a four-game winning streak.
“She's powerful, she's great putting the ball on the floor going to the basket,” Coach Lisa Stockton said. “When she's got her feet planted, she's a really good shooter. She has a lot of savvy, knows how to play. I love seeing her at the free-throw line.
“Defensively, I think she's really improved and can guard some quicker players.”
Lofton's experience and versatility allows her to be plugged into any situation. A scorer as a shooting guard at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College, she is Tulane's physically strongest player. Lofton, 5-foot-9, has come in as a small forward, and against Cleveland State in the San Diego Thanksgiving Tournament, Stockton played her at power forward.
“She just seems so much more comfortable in the system now,” Stockton said. “I think she knows what her game is and what she can contribute. We put her at the four against Cleveland State just to get her the ball and be a playmaker, and she did a great job at that. She's very versatile.”
Lofton's says her experience enables her to be very analytical while on the bench, and she enters the game knowing exactly what the team needs and how to provide it, no matter with whom she is on the court.
Against Cleveland State, she had three assists and three steals. She went to the floor for loose balls against Washington and Florida Atlantic. And, against Southern Mississippi on Dec. 1, she scored nine points in 11 minutes on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-2 on 3-point attempts.
The latter was more about motivation than analysis, however.
“I played with a lot of Southern Miss's players” in high school, summer ball and junior college, said Lofton, who is from Madison, Miss., near Jackson. “There was a lot of texting before that game.
“But this team is so deep, and we each bring something different.”
After Saturday's game, the Wave will break for final exams and won't return until its Tulane Classic on Dec. 21-22.