After a year of waiting, Mallory Ladd will suit up Thursday for UE when the Aces start play in the Toledo Invite. Ladd, a former Memorial High School standout and runner up for Miss Indiana Basketball, transferred to UE from Valparaiso and had to wait until the end of the fall semester to become eligible.
Ladd will start her Aces career as a sophomore against Toledo, which is coached by former UE coach Tricia Cullop.
How has time passed before becoming eligible UE? “The whole year seems like it took forever, but these past few weeks have been going fast. I’ve been learning new things, the plays, getting in the offense. I’m definitely starting to pick it up more.”
What did you try to accomplish during the time when you could practice but not play? “It is tough, sitting on the bench and not getting the wind you’d like. But then you also know you can get in the next day and work just as much harder. I took it as a learning opportunity where you see how other team’s players play and see how your own players play. Watching Sam (Heck) in the post teaches me a lot, so things like that I just use as a learning opportunity.”
What do you want to bring to the team right away? “I just want to do whatever helps us to win – not so much be the go-to player but be someone who helps this team, whether it’s rebounding, post defense or hitting a 3. So just being an all-around player doing whatever I can.”
At the same time, do you feel like you could become the go-to player? “If that’s what coach (Oties Epps) wants, yes, but I’m not trying to be a selfish player. I just want to be what I’ve always been.”
Have you talked with coach Epps about how many minutes you’ll play this week? “Nope. It’s up to him. It’s in his court. I’m just trying to work hard and give him something he can work with.”
Why did you originally decide to come back to Evansville? “I started getting homesick right around Christmas time, and I knew I needed to make a change quick because I wasn’t happy. Valparaiso was a great school. It just wasn’t for me, being so far away. It was a pretty quick decision, but I knew if I didn’t make it, it wasn’t going to happen.”
And you feel, looking back, that you made the right choice? “I don’t try to look back. I try to say, ‘God had a plan for me, and I made a choice for a reason.’”
What’s it been like to be at UE with Chelsea Falkenstein (also a Memorial grad): “I love playing with Chelsea. She’s a great competitor. She’s an athlete. She’s also a heck of a blocker. I’m so glad she came back for another year.”
What do you think about playing against former UE coach Tricia Cullop (now at Toledo): “I think it’s going to be great seeing her. She has a great program and is a great coach…She had a tradition here, and it’s going to be great to meet her and see her again.”