The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Gilliam ready for last season

Brittany+Gilliam+%2810%29%2C+goes+for+a+layup+against+a+Tulane+defender+in+Moody+Coliseum+last+season.+STUART+PALLEY%2FThe+Daily+Campus
Brittany Gilliam (10), goes for a layup against a Tulane defender in Moody Coliseum last season. STUART PALLEY/The Daily Campus

Brittany Gilliam (10), goes for a layup against a Tulane defender in Moody Coliseum last season. STUART PALLEY/The Daily Campus

In recent years, the SMU women’s basketball team has been one of the most reliable and consistent athletic teams on campus. In 2007, they stormed through the conference tournament and captured the tournament crown. Last year, when the dust finally settled after a heated race for first, the Mustangs stood alone at the top, winning the conference title.

A key component of the Mustangs’ success lies in senior Brittany Gilliam, who is one of the most versatile players on the court: She is capable of playing the guard position as well as a small forward and even power forward in a small ball lineup.

Gilliam, who started several games her freshman and sophomore years, started in all 31 games she played last season and was the team leader in points with an average of 14.7 points a game. Even more impressive was her defensive ability: Gilliam recorded a total of 80 steals, the highest number in Conference USA, and earned her the honor of C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.

“I was actually really surprised and also really happy,” Gilliam said. “Mainly because coach stayed on me about my defense all the time. She told me to keep my intensity up and I’d be likely to disrupt a lot of passes.”

And now Gilliam can add another award to her shelf: She was recently named to the All-C-USA preseason team. To her, however, the award means less because it is not based on this season’s results but rather last season’s achievements.

“I mean, it’s kind of good for me to go in looking as one of the tops in my positions,” she said. “But I still have to come out and improve myself, because I want to be that at the end and not just in the preseason.”

SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola initially recruited Gilliam because her size and wingspan at guard would allow her to intercept and steal passes. Rompola also mentioned that Gilliam’s basketball IQ was a large factor of her success on the court.

“I knew her AAU [summer basketball league] coach very well; and in fact, I recruited her more through her AAU coach, and I used to talk to him quite a bit,” Rompola said. “He talked about her being one of the smartest players about the game that he’s ever coached. Now, I know [Brittany Gilliam] knows the game; there’s no doubt.”

Gilliam and fellow senior teammate Delisha Wills are the backbone of SMU’s pick-and-roll; one of the most basic and successful moves the Mustangs use. The pick-and-roll involves flawless communication between both players, and fortunately, Gilliam and Wills have played together for four years and know each other very well.

“Well, we just constantly talk because we have a lot of the same goals,” Gilliam said. “We want to do the same thing: I’m a guard and she’s a forward so the guards have to get the post players the ball. I try to get her the ball every chance I get because it actually opens up the floor for me.”

Gilliam and the basketball team face high expectations this year after doing so well the past two years. The Mustangs have been one of the final four teams in the last two C-USA Championships, according to smumustangs.com.

“Are there expectations after the last two years? There should be expectations,” Rompola said. “I ran into President Turner and he made it very clear of the expectations of our team, and it was a compliment to our team because we had been successful the last two years.”

As a senior, Gilliam is facing her last year at SMU. Gilliam said that she and the rest of the seniors have made it a team goal to do something the four of them have not done before: win both the regular conference season title as well as the conference tournament title.

Rompola wants them to think bigger and challenge themselves even more.

“I talked with the four seniors at the beginning of the year and I asked them one question: How do you want to leave here? What do you want to do?” Rompola said. “One of my personal goals is do something at SMU that we have never done before. Now you can leave that wide open, but I want to go further than we’ve ever gone.”

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