Hope Foster Defends the Paint for the Bison
Dec. 12, 2005
By Todd Merriett, Bucknell Athletic Communications
An opposing guard slashes through the defenders, approaches the paint and goes up for an easy layup -- SWAT! -- not against Bucknell. Sophomore Hope Foster, a 6-foot, 2-inch forward, mans the paint for the Bison women's basketball team and her long arms are always looming around the basket as she wreaks havoc on opponent game plans.
Through five games of her sophomore campaign Foster had piled up a Patriot League-most 17 blocks. Adding that to her freshman total of 72, a Bucknell single-season record, she ranks fourth on the Bison career list, 43 blocks shy of Marie Kocornik's 17-year-old record, with 89 rejections just 33 games into her stellar career.
With the 72 blocks as a rookie Foster eclipsed the single-season Bucknell mark and stood sixth on the Bison career list. She also ranked 15th in Patriot League history despite playing just one season. She was on the verge of breaking the top 10 in league history just five games into this year.
"I really enjoy blocking shots," says Foster with a wry smile. "Blocks are so demoralizing and I love helping my teammates. Blocks also pump up the crowd, which is a good thing."
Despite excelling at blocking shots, Foster, who played in all 28 games and drew 14 starts as a freshman, knew she had to improve entering her second year, especially as one of the most experienced players on the 11-person roster that includes no seniors and just two juniors, one of which is a junior college transfer in her first season in Orange and Blue.
Foster, a native of Washington, D.C., led the team in rebounding with 5.9 per game as a rookie, and was third on the team in scoring with 6.9 points per game, but is expected to improve on those numbers this year. Through five games this season she had boosted those figures to 7.8 and 8.2, respectively. Of course, Foster would also like to see her blocks jump as well. She is averaging a whopping 3.4 blocks per game this year compared to 2.6 in 2004-05.
"My brother tells me I am going to be washed up if I don't break the block record again," smiles Foster, who has four siblings, including a twin sister Precious, who is six inches shorter.
To help herself improve, Foster spent the summer lifting weights, running and playing in the Capital City Summer League at Trinity College. A modest Foster thinks her improvement is more mental than anything and can be attributed to a general progression in abilities.
"I have to believe in myself, but I am not at the point where I am as confident in myself as I would like to be," comments Foster. "I have to look at it as my court and I am getting better at that."
Foster is beginning to take ownership of the paint, especially now that she is a veteran on such a young team. Following last week's 59-55 loss to a bigger Saint Joseph's team, where the Hawks outrebounded the Bison 48-24, a visibly disappointed Foster assumed responsibility for the discrepancy on the boards even though she hauled in half of Bucknell's rebounds as she recorded her first career double-double.
"I look at it as a challenge to face bigger opponents," says Foster, who is the tallest person on Bucknell's roster. "I look at the area I am defending as my space and I hope each of my teammates approaches it the same way. I also try to have the mentality that if I get the ball down low I am going to score regardless of who I am facing. If I end up not being as productive as I would like to be in a game I try to watch film and use it as a learning tool to see what advantages I might have the next time."
Even more so than her individual goals for improvement, the fun-loving Foster wants to see her team get better and contend for the Patriot League title. In the process she wants to see the team having fun.
"We want to have a good spirit and have fun," comments the laid-back Foster. "If a challenge comes and you aren't having fun, it becomes tougher, but if you are having fun you can do anything.
"All 12 individuals on the team, including Andrea (Wright) who isn't playing after transferring, are funny in their own ways. For me, I love playing basketball, so why not have fun doing it? We want to get the job done, but have fun in the process."
The ever-present smile on Foster's face shows she is enjoying her time playing basketball at Bucknell, a place she has liked from the time she first set foot on campus.
"When I came on my visit I immediately had a good feeling about Bucknell," remembers Foster, who also considered Lehigh, Xavier, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Drexel. "I did not talk much on my visit and you would have thought I hated it from the way I acted, but when I visited the other schools I did not get the sense of warmth I got here. It was 12 degrees outside, but the people here were so kind."
After adjusting to life in small-town Lewisburg where downtown is a fraction of the size of the Washington, D.C., downtown that she is used to, Foster has flourished with the help of her close family. Located just three hours from home, her mother made it to about half of the home games last year, while her twin sister, who is a sophomore at Mansfield University, hops on the bus for the hour-and-a-half ride down Route 15 a number of times a year.
Bucknell was also attractive to Foster for the academics. One of her older sisters attended Goucher College and instilled in Foster the importance of academics. Currently an undeclared major, Foster anticipates she will choose sociology. At one point Foster was hoping to be a hospice provider, but is now unsure of what exactly she would like to do following graduation in the spring of 2008.
"I want to do something where I can help people," explains Foster. "There are a lot of jobs where you can do that, but I am a people person. I am sure I will go to the career center at some point and they will help me out."
Foster's teammates hope she can continue to help them out by anchoring the back of the Bison defense with more blocked shots.