In February 2013, Cha Sweeney was cutting down the nets after winning a second-straight league championship with Toledo Rogers High School.
Not even a year later, Eastern Michigan University’s women’s basketball team is being led by the same offensive threat that led her high school to back-to-back titles.
“She’s a talent,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “She’s fearless, especially down the stretch. She’s a weapon offensively.”
Standing just 5-foot-2, Sweeney has been a catalyst for the 11-3 Eagles’ offense. Second-best on her team and tenth in the Mid-American Conference, she’s putting up 13.6 points per game, with three less points than team leader Janay Morton (194).
Although the true freshman guard didn’t expect to be this productive in her first season, she’s shooting 35.3 percent from the field, which is second best among EMU freshmen.
On top of that, she ranks top-three on the team in four offensive categories, including field goals (third with 65), three-pointers (third with 18), free-throws (first with 46) and points (second with 191).
“It doesn’t surprise me what she’s doing for us offensively,” Verdi said. “Our freshman class was ranked No. 1 in the MAC for a reason, and she’s a big part of that.”
Eagles sophomore forward KaBria Walker played a role in getting her to become a part of that class. Sweeney’s 2012 high school teammate said she met with her on her campus visit and talked about what the school could offer.
“I told her it was a good school and I told her she should come here,” Walker said.
The two played together in Walker’s senior season and she has noticed strides in Sweeney’s play since two years ago.
“She became a smarter person [with] more control over the game,” Walker said.
Sweeney has showcased her ability to control the game multiple times this season by leading her team in scoring in four games so far. She also has six games of 17 or more points.
She relies on her quickness and speed to be as productive as she is on the floor. Those assets to her game are the best reasons why she has been and will keep shining with the ball in her hands.
“We run specific plays for her where she can be utilized in a one-on-one situation, where she can just go by her defender,” Verdi said.
Consequently, Sweeney leads the Eagles by example. The team feeds off of her success, just like her Rogers High School team did.
“When she’s doing well, the whole team follows behind her,” Walker said. “When she gets going, everybody gets going.”
Sweeney won four sectional championships and two district championships with her high school. To put the icing on the cake, she was the league’s leading scorer for her senior season.
It is very possible those kinds of milestones can correlate with her time playing at EMU.
But her goals for her collegiate career are simple and straight-forward.
“I just want to leave a legacy,” she said.
Then she looked up and pointed towards the rafters at the Convocation Center.
“I want my jersey to be up there.”
Editor’s Note: Stats are as of Jan. 15, 2014.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter: @Derrickvergo