As they approach the end of the regular season, the Hopkins women’s basketball team has their sights set on a strong finish to build momentum for a run in the Centennial Conference tournament. Since the start of the new year, the Jays are 10-4 and currently sit at third in the Conference.
Many players have contributed heavily to the strong push that Hopkins has made since the start of the 2020 portion of their schedule, but sophomore guard Diarra Oden has been particularly crucial to the Jays’ success. Coming off a freshman campaign that saw her start in 20 of 28 games and average 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, Oden came into this season ready to step into a bigger role and become a leader on the team.
In her second season at Homewood, Oden is currently averaging more than 18 points per game and has scored 20 or more on 10 different occasions. She leads the team and is second in the Centennial Conference in points, and she has served as a major force in three-point percentage, steals and free throw percentage, in all of which she ranks in the top 10 in the Centennial Conference.
Unsurprisingly, last week featured a pair of strong performances by Oden. In Wednesday’s 63-35 victory against the Swarthmore College Garnet, Oden contributed 29 points, five rebounds and seven steals in the win against their conference rival. With those numbers, Oden set new career highs for herself in both points and steals.
She followed up on her Swarthmore performance with yet another impressive outing, this time against the Ursinus College Bears. In that matchup, Oden led the team with 18 points and added five rebounds and a pair of steals in the win.
Her formidable play has earned her Centennial Conference Player of the Week honors twice this season, and after her production last week, Oden can also add being named The News-Letter’s Athlete of the Week to her already impressive resume.
The News-Letter spoke with Oden to discuss her expanded role on the team this year and what it takes to serve as a leader on the stat sheet and on the court.
The News-Letter: How does it feel to be able to be a leader on your team in only your second year?
Diarra Oden: It’s pretty empowering, especially on the court when I know my team has confidence in me to get the job done.
N-L: Last week you managed to set a new career high in points. What does a milestone like that mean to you?
DO: In that game specifically it meant a lot to shut down Swarthmore because we lost to them the first time around. This time was more of a statement game to beat them by 28.
N-L: How have you grown as a player in your year and a half with the team so far?
DO: I’ve become more confident, more patient and definitely a better leader. I’ve also been able to become a more skilled player with the help of my coaches and teammates.
N-L: You lead the team in scoring with more than 18 points per game. What does it take to be such a good scorer?
DO: It requires having the patience and confidence from my coaches to call a lot of plays for me.
N-L: The team is on a short hot streak as the regular season is coming to a close. What are your goals for the rest of the season?
DO: We want to win out, win the conference championship and make it to the [National Collegiate Athletic Association] Tournament.
N-L: What has been your favorite moment from this season so far?
DO: It had to be warming up at Ursinus. We had so much energy, and it was the most fun I’ve had going into a game, since I have a tendency to be a little too serious.