Jan. 16, 2008
By Terence Foy
She brings a lot to the floor, and at 6-foot-3, that is one of the few things about senior Vika Sholokhova that doesn't come as a surprise.
Earning the MAAC's Sixth Player of the Year Award a year ago with her stellar performance off the bench, the post player from St. Petersburg, Russia, was as valuable for her ability to hit long-range jumpers and drive to the basket as she was for her moves around the hoop and shot-altering ability on defense.
"She definitely brings a spark when she comes into the game," head coach Joe Logan said. "When she shoots a three-pointer, we think it's going in because we see her make them over and over. When she scores, it provides us with a huge emotional lift."
That kind of confidence from her teammates has to feel good for Sholokhova, who is only in her second full season as a Greyhound after transferring from Pittsburgh during her sophomore year. She credits her coach and her teammates for easing her transition to Loyola and the MAAC, and helping her be successful.
"I came here because of Coach Logan," Sholokhova said. "Last year, I only played half of the season, and we had players like [Jill Glessner] and [Brittany] Dunn, so I wasn't playing the main role on the team. I felt comfortable coming of the bench."
Her role on the team wasn't the only aspect of Loyola that helped her adjustment to a new school.
Though she said she preferred the atmosphere of the larger school, she has particularly liked the international flair of the Greyhounds' roster, which features Siobahn Prior, a junior guard from England, and Ontario, Canada, native Melissa Bangay, a freshman forward.
Sholokhova also had two years at Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, N.J., to help ease her adjustment to being so far from home.
"I've been here for six years, so I guess I'm used to the States now," she said.
She also said that her game had to undergo some pretty significant adjustments, as well.
"In the beginning, it was different because obviously I'm really tall," she said. "When I first came here, I thought I was going to be a guard, but I had to play in the post because I was the tallest player on the team."
She has fit in nicely to the American scheme of things, and Logan says her age and range of experiences has brought a lot of positives to his young and fairly inexperienced squad.
Though he adds that it hasn't been all roses for Sholokhova, who is averaging 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. However, she is shooting only 24 percent from three-point range, something Logan is looking to see improve over the second half of the season.
"She has to bring us a little more scoring," Logan said. "She had a little bit of a slump athletically four games into the season and wasn't playing the way she's capable of playing."
However, he is confident that the best part of her season is ahead of her.
"Because of her height and range, she is difficult to guard in the MAAC season," Logan said. "She is a versatile player that hasn't hit her stride yet."
Her performance in the last two games show Logan's prognostication is coming true. Sholokhova led all players in scoring during Loyola's last two games, 22 points against Marist and 18 versus Rider.
That is good news for Sholokhova, who has high hopes for the remainder of her last season. She says that since coming to the United States six years ago, she has been working towards one goal in her basketball career.
"This is my last season, so I'm trying to win a conference championship and go to the NCAA Tournament," she said. "That was my goal when I went to Pitt, and it didn't change at all when I came here."