Miranda Drummond thrives at Syracuse in 1st year of play after transfer from St. Bonaventure

first_img Published on February 19, 2018 at 9:06 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 Then-St. Bonaventure head coach Jim Crowley returned to Olean, New York, after a recruiting trip late one Thursday night in 2015. It was after 11 p.m., but he needed to stop by his office.As he walked through SBU’s athletic center, past Bob Lanier Court, he heard the sound of one basketball and one set of feet. Shooting around in the middle of a summer night was Miranda Drummond.“She probably doesn’t realize that I sat there for five minutes just watching her,” Crowley said, “thinking wow, this is a kid that’s got something going.”Drummond’s day-by-day, year-by-year improvements brought her from Harpursville (New York) High School to the Atlantic 10 and St. Bonaventure for two seasons and now to Syracuse (20-7, 8-6 Atlantic Coast). She wasn’t recruited by high-major schools but has proven to fit right in at SU in the ACC, ranking second on the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game while leading SU in made 3s. After sitting out a year following her transfer, she’s started every game for the Orange as a redshirt junior.“I didn’t really know,” Drummond said of her role now at SU. “I was just working hard, obviously I was working to get the starting position but didn’t really know until that first game.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt didn’t always look like Drummond would have the shot to play in a high-major conference, though. She grew up in Harpursville, a small town near Binghamton, which had a population of 3,543 in 2016.Harpursville plays in the second-smallest classification size in New York. Hornets head coach Kurt Ehrensbeck said between college coaches focusing on recruiting AAU teams and the size of Harpursville, the only time his players really played in front of college coaches was in the final four of the state tournament. That’s one of the first times Crowley saw then-high school freshman Drummond, and from there he knew he wanted her to play for the Bonnies.On the AAU circuit, Drummond played for regional teams and didn’t join more nationally-oriented clubs, Ehrensbeck said. He said a few of his past D-I prospects had played for Philadelphia-based AAU teams and used that platform to get in front of more college coaches. Drummond, by choosing to play for local AAU programs, didn’t gain the same exposure.“She was in a Class C school, and I think sometimes people look past that a little bit because of their perception of the competitive level,” Crowley said.Drummond had her shining moments, though. She led Harpursville to three state final fours in four seasons. Ehrensbeck remembers one shot in particular.During Drummond’s junior year in the 2013 regional final, Cooperstown sank a big shot to tie the game. On the ensuing possession with under 20 seconds left, Harpursville broke out in transition and Drummond found herself open. She was 23 feet from the basket with no one impeding a path to the rim. She took the 3.“She buried it,” Ehrensbeck said.Codie Yan | Staff PhotographerHarpursville didn’t surrender the lead after that and moved on to its second state final four in three years.Even with her postseason heroics, the bigger offers didn’t come. It didn’t matter to Drummond, who loved the coaching staff with the Bonnies and was happy to go to a school less than three hours from home.In her first season at St. Bonaventure, Drummond played limited minutes — Crowley laughed and blamed that on “bad coaching.” During her sophomore season, Drummond averaged more than 12 points per game and knocked down 59 3s, foreshadowing her role at SU.That season, the Bonnies had a gauntlet of games lined up in the nonconference schedule, playing Georgetown, James Madison, Buffalo and Penn State in the course of eight days. On the Friday before that stretch, SBU’s leading scorer, Katie Healy, got injured. Drummond averaged 16 points over the stretch, leading the Bonnies to four-straight wins. Crowley feels those wins were key in St. Bonaventure securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament that season.“She went to a whole (new) place, because she needed to,” Crowley said.In the 2016 NCAA Tournament, SBU won its first-round game before falling in the next round. The Bonnies’ brief appearance in the tournament was enough for Providence to be interested in Crowley and hire him away from SBU. Drummond, who had picked SBU in part because of Crowley’s reputation, wasn’t going to wait to see who was named the new head coach. She sought a new place to play.Greg Johnson, who coached Drummond in AAU, is friends with SU head coach Quentin Hillsman. Johnson did “all of” the transfer contacting, Drummond said. He connected her with Syracuse. Hillsman wants his team to get out and run and to shoot lots of 3s. Drummond checked the boxes.Drummond ran cross country in high school — she ran a 20:51 5K as a sophomore in sectionals before giving up the sport to focus on basketball — and her father, Vinny, even spent a year running track for the Orange. Drummond also shot more than 35 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in her sophomore year at St. Bonaventure.“I love running,” Drummond said. “I like the feeling of being able to run. For basketball, it’s the feeling of being able to run up and down the court without gasping for air.”When told she never looks tired on the court, Drummond was surprised.“Really? Maybe I’m good at hiding it,” she said.Once at Syracuse, Drummond had to sit out the mandatory year for transferring. She got up to speed before she had to play in any games. She learned by watching star perimeter scorers Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes. By the time the curtain raised on Drummond’s first game with the Orange, she played even better than she had at St. Bonaventure.“It was bittersweet,” Drummond said of sitting out. “I wanted to play but it was nice taking that year to start to learn the plays and kind of get a headstart.”Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorIn each of her first 10 games with Syracuse, Drummond scored at least 13 points. That included a team-high 29 points against Northwestern. Her success at SU this season culminated on Jan. 7 against then-No. 11 Florida State, when Drummond put up 38 points, including three late 3s on an injured ankle to close out the game.Of late, Drummond’s scoring production has declined. Her average hadn’t increased in any game since the win against FSU until she scored 15 against Pittsburgh on Monday. In Syracuse’s upset of then-No. 17 Duke on Feb. 15, though, she may have found her shooting stroke again.Late in the second quarter, after missing her first four shots, Drummond knocked down a 3. Then she made her first 3-point attempt of the second half. Then, after using a pump fake and a stepback that she hadn’t utilized much, if at all, this season, she drained her third 3.“She obviously shoots the ball extremely well from the perimeter,” SU associate head coach Vonn Read said. “(She) stretches the floor, and so that was one of the reasons we recruited her.”In high school, Drummond was always early to practice and stayed after to get extra work in, Ehrensbeck said. At St. Bonaventure, Crowley found her in the gym at odd hours, as early as 7 a.m. on Sundays. She wasn’t recruited by Syracuse out of high school, but her success with the Orange isn’t a mistake.“I can say without hesitation that I would never, ever doubt or bet against Miranda Drummond,” Crowley said. 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