First Posted: 1/15/2009
FAIRMONT - With Fairmont clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter against Red Springs early last month, the Lady Tornadoes, as they have done all season, turned to Monique Floyd to lead them.
And as she has done all season, the Fairmont senior responded.
Floyd blocked a shot to open the final period, and then proceeded to score 12 of her 26 points in the last eight minutes to erase all doubt.
Despite her aggressive ferocity on the court, Floyd, as she often does, had little to say after the game. She'd done all her talking on the court.
Now the senior guard is ready to take her ferocity - and her quiet off-court demeanor that belies it - to the next level.
Floyd, who is averaging a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds this season, signed a Letter of Intent to continue her playing career next season at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She will join former Fairmont teammate Gini Grimsley, a sophomore guard for UNCG.
“It's an environment that I've been accustomed to for a while now,” said Floyd, who has attended summer camps in Greensboro since the eighth grade. “I'm familiar with their coaches and the whole campus.”
“There were other schools, but at Greensboro there was a comfort zone. They made me more comfortable and made me feel like they wanted me more.”
Floyd's signing with the Lady Spartans caps off a prep career at Fairmont that saw her twice named Southeastern Conference player of the year. She finished fourth in the state last season with 24 points per game and earned second-team All-State honors. Floyd was also The Robesonian's 2005-2006 county player of the year.
“She has given me everything I've asked for and more,” said Fairmont coach Michael Baker, who also coached Floyd on the school's volleyball team. “I really didn't expect with her being as quiet as she is, that she would be the leader that she is now. She'll come up to me now and tell me that this person is not in the right place or this isn't being run like it should be. I thought I would have to try and pull that out of her.”
Baker credits much of Fairmont's success this season on Floyd's newfound vocal leadership. The Lady Tornadoes, at 15-4 and 8-2, are second in the Southeastern Conference.
Earlier this season, Fairmont dropped a pair of games against conference-foe East Bladen and Myrtle Beach, which was the No. 1 Class 3-A team in South Carolina at the time, and Baker turned to Floyd to help right the ship.
“I had to convince (the Fairmont players) that we weren't a bad team, and I couldn't do that by myself,” Baker said. “Monique helped sell that. She told them, ‘Hey, we're OK.' Once Monique said we're OK - peer pressure does a lot more than sometimes coaching can - then they feel like we're OK.”
UNC-Greensboro coach Lynne Agee plans on playing the 5-foot, 9-inch Floyd, who runs the point at Fairmont, at shooting guard.
“Monique brings us speed and quickness at the two-guard spot,” she said. “She's a very athletic wing with slashing ability, and goes to the basket aggressively.”
Nowhere was that aggressive attacking style more on display than in the Tornadoes' first matchup with the Lady Red Devils this season, in the Robeson County Shootout Championship.
With her team trailing in the second half and lacking an offensive spark, Floyd again took over. The four-year starter aggressively attacked the basket throughout the second half and created shots for her teammates while also scoring 20 points to lead the Tornadoes to the Shootout crown. She picked up MVP honors along the way.
“We couldn't do anything to stop her,” Red Springs coach Eva Patterson-Heath said after the game. “She's a great player and she just took over.”
Floyd, who has played on AAU teams in Fayetteville since she was in the seventh grade and attended camps last summer at N.C. State and in Florence, S.C., said that shouldering the load this season is a role that she has embraced.
“I think I've done a good job in helping my team go to a next level,” she said. “I knew that this is what I had to do for us to be successful.”
One of the bigger factors in Floyd's decision to sign with Greensboro was proximity to her family. Baker said that Floyd had interest from Virginia Tech and Miami, but both might have been a bit too far for her.
“She's got a good support base from her family and I think she was concerned about if they could go and see her play,” he said. “They've been following her since she started playing in seventh grade and they're with her now and I think she still wants that fan-base to be around.”
Said Floyd: “I talked it over with my family and they talked with my mom and she felt comfortable there, too. She was a major part in my decision. She felt comfortable and I felt comfortable.”
It was the right choice in Baker's opinion.
“A person like Mo, she's got to be familiar with her environment because she's such a quiet keep-to-herself person,” Baker said. “I think Greensboro is a good fit for her because they'll take of her. Not only athletically, but I think academically they'll take care of her and that's the most important thing.”