For Delaney Conway, sticking around has clearly been the right choice. When faced with adversity, the senior has stuck around. When four teammates left the women’s basketball program this past summer, the Seattle, Wash. native stuck around. When former head coach Charity Elliott bolted for San Diego last June, Conway did what she has always done–she stuck around.
For Delaney Conway, sticking around has clearly been the right choice.
When faced with adversity, the senior has stuck around. When four teammates left the women’s basketball program this past summer, the Seattle, Wash. native stuck around. When former head coach Charity Elliott bolted for San Diego last June, Conway did what she has always done–she stuck around.
After coming to Portland State in 2003, the sharp-shooting forward was faced with the decision to play her freshman season or red-shirt.
“I decided I wanted that extra year so that I could space out my classes a bit more,” said Conway, a pre-medicine science major. “The extra year has also helped me get better on the court and keep improving.”
The benefits of red-shirting have continued to pay off for Conway, who-with the additional year-has been able to concentrate on her performance on the court as well as in the classroom. The result: academic honors awards from ESPN the Magazine and the Big Sky Conference in three consecutive seasons.
Conway’s consistently solid performance in the classroom has contrasted the wobbly state of the Portland State women’s basketball program throughout her tenure as a Viking. With the arrival of new head coach Sherri Murrell last July, Conway is under the direction of her third head coach in five seasons at Portland State.
“I helped interview (Murrell) when she came here to campus, and I knew right away that she would be a great coach,” Conway said.
Despite some significant roster changes due to the coaching change and graduation, and amidst the difficulty of learning a new system under a new coach, the Vikings are thriving under the tutelage of Murrell.
While many of the players seem to be enjoying the opportunity to play in Murrell’s fast-tempo offense and aggressive defense, perhaps no player is flourishing more in the new scheme than Conway.
The fifth-year senior is enjoying her finest season on the court, recording major improvements in nearly every statistical category. Despite playing on the wing, the 6-footer leads the conference in offensive rebounding and tops the team in three-point shooting percentage.
“Delaney has been the backbone of our team in so many situations this year,” Murrell said. “She has done so many different things for us.”
Conway’s ability to contribute on both ends of the court has been essential to the Vikings’ success this season. Often called upon to defend the opposing team’s premier perimeter scorer, Conway’s defensive presence is felt on the floor but is often unseen on the box score.
In a recent game against Idaho State, Conway defended the nation’s leading three-point shooter, Andrea Lightfoot, and held her scoreless the entire game.
“I take a lot of pride in my defense and rebounding,” said Conway. “It really is a difference maker in games.”
Enduring several unstable, and unsuccessful, seasons in her early years as a Viking has helped Conway maintain perspective and learn to play for her teammates in this–her last–season donning the Portland State green and white.
“You may not always have your coaches, but you’ll always have your teammates,” she said.
After seeing many of her teammates flee to other schools after tough years past and coaching changes, Conway applied a lesson learned long ago, and stayed optimistic.
“You can always look on the bright side of things, and it doesn’t do you any good to run from hard times because you don’t learn anything,” Conway said.
This season has already produced several memorable moments for Conway and Co., including an emotional victory at Northern Arizona, where the Vikings have only won twice in the last 13 visits.
With the Vikings tied atop the conference standings at 15-4 overall and 5-1 against Big Sky foes, the team has its best opportunity to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament since joining the Division I ranks in 1996.
“Our goal is to play consistently every night, and if we do that, I know we will be going to the NCAA tournament,” Conway said.