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Morgan Park's Shami Goodman moves south after a steal from Young. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Morgan Park’s Shami Goodman defends the other team’s best player.
“Shannise Heady was the toughest player I ever guarded in high school,” Goodman said of the 2012 Hillcrest graduate and Sun-Times All-Area selection currently at Seton Hall.
Goodman is also the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer.
“Attacking the basket has always been a strength of mine,” Goodman said. “If my shot is not falling, I go to the basket.”
And despite being 5-foot-8, the junior guard is Morgan Park’s second-leading rebounder.
“She has stepped up into that Kendyl Nunn role,” Morgan Park coach T.J. Johnson said. “She’s doing everything we need her to do this year.”
But there is one thing Johnson requires of Goodman above all else.
“He tells me to run the floor,” Goodman said. “He said, ‘The key for you is running the floor.’”
Whether it’s directing the offense from the point, attacking the basket baseline-to-baseline or keeping the other team’s best player under wraps, Goodman has heeded her coach’s command.
“She’s playing hard,” Johnson said. “She’s fearless going to the basket. She loves to attack. She loves to get you back on your heels. She’s also one of our top defenders. She enjoys that challenge of guarding the other team’s best player.”
Goodman will lead the height-challenged Mustangs, winners of five of six games and unbeaten against teams from Illinois, into Saturday’s game against Bolingbrook at the City-Suburban Showdown hosted by Chicago State.
“Our big focus has been rebounding,” Goodman said. “That’s been a huge key for us since we’re small. Khalilah Morrow (a 5-foot-11 senior forward sidelined by a knee injury last year) played for the first time this season last week. She did real well.”
Morgan Park lost its two top inside players from a year ago to transfers — sophomores Marsha Howard (Crete-Monee) and Tammy Russell (LaLumiere, Ind.). The Mustangs have compensated in part with quickness.
Sunday in Zion, the Mustangs prevailed against a much taller Zion-Benton team 64-55 on the strength of 13 steals — four by Goodman. She also held the Zee-Bees’ top scorer — Samantha Rodriguez — under double figures.
”I like the challenge,” Goodman said. “When you play the other team’s leading scorer, you have to play up to their level.”
Goodman has risen to such challenges since she began playing basketball at the age of 5 at the urging of her father, Terry Goodman, and brother, Traboy Graham, who played at Kenwood.
“My brother and I still go one-on-one at the YMCA,” Goodman said. “He wins most of the time. He’s a lot taller than I am. But he tells me to keep pushing.”
Goodman may push herself all the way to a Big Ten roster spot. Schools like Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Seton Hall have expressed interest. Goodman even took in a football game at Michigan this fall.
“I just have to keep doing well at defense, keep my head together and not get too much of an attitude, and keep running the floor,” she said.
And running, and running.