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UW forward Sewell answers coach's challenge

Dec 11, 2012 - The Associated Press

LARAMIE -- Joe Legerski challenged Chaundra Sewell before the season.

The Wyoming women's basketball coach told Sewell, his best all-around player, that he could think of no reason that the athletic forward shouldn't average a double-double as a senior.

Double-digit scoring would be nothing new for Sewell. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 13.7 points per game as a junior. Her rebounding, however, would need to improve (Sewell averaged 8.7 rebounds last season).

Sewell accepted the goal set by her coach. As a result, her already-strong rebounding has gotten, well, stronger this year.

"Rebounding is really just a mental choice," Sewell said. "It's all about deciding you want to be the one grabbing the ball. ... I'm just really striving to grab the boards."

Wyoming improved to 7-1 on Saturday after a 68-60 win at Montana State. Sewell led the Cowgirls with 16 points and 11 rebounds, her third double-double of the year. She was named Mountain West Conference player of the week on Monday.

Earlier this season, she scored 20 points and wrestled away a career-high 16 rebounds during a win against Eastern Michigan. Before that, she went for 10 and 10 against Denver.

In terms of season averages, her scoring has held steady at just less than 14 points per game. Meanwhile her rebounding average is now a perfect 10.

"She has great timing to get to the basketball," Legerski said. "And she is quick off her feet. She wants the basketball. I've always said rebounding is more about desire than anything else."

That desire has developed over time. In high school, rebounds came easily for Sewell (no one blocked out). During her years at UW, she began to relish winning the scramble for the ball.

"I've definitely had to change my mindset since I've been at the Division I level," she said.

Now, she takes more pride in rebounds than points.

And often, her ability to corral her opponent's misses lead to her own opportunities to score.

"I'm not an outside shooter," she said. "The only way I'm going to get my points is down there in the post. The first thing I have to do before making those layups is to grab a rebound and go back up."

With Legerski's challenge in her head, she dives into thickets of players beneath the basket and, more often than not, comes out with the ball.

She has even been known to intimidate her own teammates at times.

"Sometimes, when I'm running in there, I think, 'I'll just stay back.'" Wyoming sophomore forward Kalya Woodward said.

"Because she's in there. And I'm not going to run into her. . Every time the ball goes up, she wants that rebound. And she gets it."

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