When looking at the Rutgers women's basketball team's roster, many aspects of it stick out: Junior guard Arella Guirantes is the second leading scorer of the Big Ten, averaging 19.4 points per game (PPG). It has height, with senior center Jordan Wallace towering at 6-foot-3-inches and junior forward Mael Gilles at 6-foot-1-inch. It can pass, as demonstrated by graduate student guard Khadaizha Sanders's recording of her 388th assist last Sunday in the double overtime loss at Minnesota.
Additionally, the Scarlet Knights (16-5, 6-4) have recently proven their bench is a strong part of the team that can check-in to the game and throw down the hammer.
One also can’t help but notice junior forward Tekia Mack. She draws attention to herself, as she seems to combine all of those traits.
Mack also is easy to notice due to her play. She can put up points while still grabbing rebounds on both sides of the court. In those categories, she is averaging 12.3 PPG and 6.8 rebounds per game. Mack recorded four double-doubles so far.
As if that weren’t enough, she is averaging two steals per game. Those stats have led her to the starting lineup in all 21 games played.
Mack is certainly a multi-faceted player, but she also displays something that doesn’t get written down: her emotions.
If there is a call that Mack disagrees with, her body and facial expressions will let everyone else know it.
When there is something that goes right for Rutgers, Mack will break out any number of celebrations, including a dramatic air guitar to celebrate a near half-court shot from Sanders.
During a game, Mack can be seen helping her teammates set up into their defensive assignments, as well as organizing the Knights as they bring the ball up the court. Once the play continues and Mack is lead to draw contact on a layup, she can be seen sliding past the camera and into the walkway behind the hoop. She does this routine in an effort to get the referees to call the contact and let her shoot the extra shot, which has happened several times this season.
When Mack or a teammate draws the contract for the extra shot, Mack will be the first to react and point to the scorers’ table to signal the call before the referees. The signal is often accompanied by a celebratory scream. Day in and day out, her excitement and love for basketball never fail to present themselves.
Mack has given the fans more than just entertaining performances, though. She has also tried to teach them lessons.
In the game against Marshall earlier in the season, Rutgers had the ball when a Thundering Herd player was hit below the basket. As the player rolled on the floor in pain, the ball found its way to Mack’s hands.
Being that the injured defender couldn’t cover Mack, she found herself wide open for a three-pointer from the corner. As she stood in a trance, the crowd yelled at her to shoot. After a few seconds of the shouts raining down, Mack motioned to the referees to show that she would not shoot over an injured player and that they would have to end the play.
Once the shrill of the whistle signaled the end of the play, Mack turned around to face the crowd sitting above the Knights’ bench. She told them that she wouldn’t shoot with such circumstances.
The combination of skills and emotions has led Mack to being one of the most consistent players in Rutgers’ lineup.
Her emotions and skills will be on display as the Knights look to bounce back against Penn State on Thursday at the Rutgers Athletic Center.