by Daniel Fappiano
Tied at 69 with just nine seconds remaining against rival Sacred Heart, freshman Tiffany Slicklein stood in the corner knowing that her shot and her moment was coming. Fellow freshman Emma McCamus drove to the paint and passed it to Slicklein, who hit the game-winning three, her first points of the game, and gave Central a crucial Northeast Conference win.
The Blue Devils’ victory against the Pioneers was three games ago, and they have not lost since. Slicklein earned herself a starting role following her big shot, and has been a huge contributor during Central’s three game winning streak.
She scored nine points with seven rebounds against Farleigh Dickinson, and while she struggled with foul trouble against Bryant, she played strong defense in the fourth quarter to help lead her team to another victory.
For the season, Slicklein has appeared in all but four games, averaging 10.2 minutes and scoring 2.4 points with 2.5 rebounds per game. However, following her big shot at Sacred Heart, Slicklein has averaged 20.5 minutes with seven points and five and a half rebounds.
Slicklein feels that her confidence is only improving following her big shot and move to the starting lineup.
“It’s really boosting my confidence,” Slicklein said. “I think I’m finally getting more and more confident as I keep going along and I’ve just been trying my best in practice to prove myself and I think it’s really working out for me.”
Originally, Slicklein hails from Kings Park, New York. While she may be 139 miles away from where she grew up, the freshman forward feels right at home with CCSU.
“I came to CCSU because once I got to this campus, I just had a good energy about it,” Slicklein said. “The coaches were great, really good people, that’s really what drew me in.”
On the court, Slicklein plays with no fear. While she may only stand 5 foot 11 inches, she has no problem guarding the opposing team’s biggest player and driving right into contact. Slicklein understands she’s got to be tough to play Division-One basketball and credits her mentality to the way she’s always played the game.
“Honestly, I just have to play confident,” Slicklein said. “I know I’m a little undersized for my position but it’s not stopping me. I was always aggressive in high school and that’s just how I play. My mentality is just getting to the rim, that’s what I like to do best and I like to finish with contact.”
Slicklein had to wait her turn to earn a larger role on this team. She didn’t start a game until Central’s match-up with Farleigh Dickinson and has just five games of double digit minutes played prior. However she isn’t taking her opportunity lightly and understands what it means to be a D-1 athlete.
“It’s been amazing, some people take it for granted but it’s really something to be proud of and I’m so excited I accepted it here,” Slicklein said. “I love the coaches, the atmosphere here and it’s been amazing going from high school to this to see the level of play. It’s just great, it’s been a great experience so far.”
Slicklein’s play on the court certainly has not gone unnoticed by head coach Beryl Piper. The eleventh year coach raved about the freshman’s play following the team’s win over Farleigh Dickinson.
“She was sick earlier in the season and kind of got behind. She was struggling for a little bit and then she worked every day, playing better in practice,” Piper said. “She played great the other day and she hit that shot which was awesome. She’s tough to defend because she’ll get to the rim, she’s kind of wiry, she figures out ways to score, it’s pretty awesome.”
The women’s basketball team has six games left in the season as they continue to push for a higher seed in the NEC tournament. Slicklein says that it’s important for her team to remember what losing felt like and remember what winning felt like and to use that as motivation.
Tiffany Slicklein came to Central as a bench player waiting for her chance to shine. She got that opportunity against Sacred Heart and ran with it.
She feels that if the Blue Devils keep playing how they have, they could beat anyone in the conference. If Slicklein keeps contributing how she has the past three games, there’s a chance her prediction will become a reality.