By Mark Robinson
Sydney Nunley is playing basketball for the Radford Highlanders as a freshman after an excellent two-year stint playing at Greenbrier East High School. She was in town Saturday evening, Feb. 20, and took time to watch the game between the Lady Spartans and the Hurricane Redskins. Following the game, she described how it is to be playing college ball.
“I signed early with Radford, back in November of 2014. I got some letters and interest from some other schools, but I was set on going to Radford. I major in Communications there, with a minor in Psychology. I started in July of 2015, for summer semester. I took a couple of classes, and did some basketball training, and got used to how everything works with the team and with the school. Then practice started in September.
“It’s was different for me, learning how to play at a faster pace, and it’s a lot more physical in college. It was tough for me at first, but now I’m more comfortable. The game has definitely slowed down for me,” she said. Her coaches aren’t waiting a long time for her to get used to the pace of college basketball. “I’ve played a lot this year. Every game except one when I was injured. The longest I played in any game was 25 minutes. I play center. There are two other centers on the team, both in higher classes than I am.”
Before showing up at Greenbrier East’s game Saturday evening, Nunley’s Highlanders had played a game earlier in the day against Longwood University. It was a home game, which they won 80-64. Nunley hit three of five shots, scoring eight points, making one block, and collecting five steals, all in fifteen minutes of playing time. The win put the Highlanders season record at 14-12.
“It’s an hour and a half drive from Radford to get home,” explained Nunley. “We’re pretty close to Christiansburg and Blacksburg. We have three games left, then the tournament. We’re in the Big South Conference. Nine teams. Liberty University. UNC-Asheville. They’re number one. A very good team. There was an upset today. Liberty lost.
“I come home whenever I can. This is the first time since Christmas, because of games on weekends, and practices all week. My parents and my little sister try to get over to my home games,” Nunley said.
The Highlanders played Winthrop Tuesday, Feb. 23, then have games against Presbyterian and Campbell, before starting tournament play. Earlier in the season, Radford played a game against NC State, which they lost 67-52. That’s pretty tough competition. The Radford mens team started the season with a game against Georgetown, which they won 82-80 in overtime. Radford is a small school in the world of big-time basketball programs, but they mingle in some high company.