Koo-Kowl-Ski!

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Read the title with emphasis, please!  That’s the way I would announce her name when Natalie would do something spectacular in a game.  I said it that way often in the past four years (3.4 years since the coronavirus cut this year short by 60%).  I am talking about Natalie Kucowski of the Lafayette women’s basketball team.

I was able to scream it to myself once again this week when she accomplished something no other women’s basketball player in Lafayette history could.  She is the first to be drafted by the WNBA, the women’s equivalent to the men’s NBA.  With the 35th pick (that’s right – the 35th player chosen in the entire nation), Natalie was selected by the Seattle Storm.  Seattle is the team that has won four WNBA titles.

Despite Natalie’s accomplishments, this came as a shock.  It was not because I did not think she was talented enough for it to happen.  After all, she became the 4th leading scorer in Lafayette history in a season shortened by 16 or more games this year.  Based on her 2020-21 average, she would have ended up #2 had the Leopards played a full season.  The same goes for points in a single season.  She moved to #2 all-time in career scoring average.  Natalie led the team in scoring all four years.

She could, also, rebound!  Boy, could she rebound – better than anyone at Lafayette and better than anyone in Patriot League history.  She finished with 1197 rebounds, led the team all four years, and became the first Lafayette player to score over 1,000 (1415) points and garner over 1,000 rebounds.

And… yes, there is more – Natalie was named the PL Player of the Year and PL Defensive Player of the Year (for the second consecutive year).  Only one other player in PL history has earned both awards in the same season.

So, you ask, why am I so shocked?  It is because she went to Lafayette.  This is not to be a negative comment about Lafayette basketball.  It is more about praising Lafayette’s academic programs.  Students and athletes go to Lafayette for the education – one of the best in the nation.  Natalie would attest to that.  She did not choose what we used to call “cake” courses – easy classes that athletes would take to lessen the challenge of playing college and navigating the rigors of college learning.  Natalie majored in Chemical Engineering at Lafayette and excelled.  I am fairly certain when she stepped on campus as a freshman back in 2017, her career plans centered

around engineering.  She came with the expectation that playing the game she loved would help her reach her vocational goals.

Natalie’s life is going to change in the next few months – she will graduate from Lafayette, leave her parents, Kenneth and Kathleen and siblings Anthony and Charlotte, and “head west, young woman”.  Life and basketball have taken her from Philadelphia to Seattle via Lafayette College and Easton, PA.  It is a “road less traveled by” (and in this case, never).

I wish Natalie the very best.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her development at Lafayette, as a player and as a person.  And now, I will spend some time following her career in the WNBA.

I am hoping to sit on my couch and scream, “Koo-Kowl-Ski” a few more times – for old times’ sake! 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Speaking of Patriot League basketball players, former Lehigh great, CJ McCollum, continues to play at the highest level for the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers. He is averaging 23.4 points a game and scored 29 points this past Friday.  He was the 10th pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
  1. The 76ers’ Joel Embiid is back and advancing his place in the MVP category. This past Friday night, he scored 36 points and had 14 rebounds.  The Sixers beat the LA Clippers, who had won seven straight – 106-103.  When Embiid is healthy, he is as dominant as anyone in the league.
  1. I know the NFL is still five months away, but the gambling houses are already taking bets on your team’s over/under win totals. In other words, they predict the win total and you bet on whether your choice will win more or less games.  If the team wins the predicted total, you lose.  The Eagles and Giants are picked to win seven games, the Washington Football Team eight and the Dallas Cowboys nine.  Wanna bet?
  1. It’s nice to see the high school baseball season is moving along rather smoothly so far. Playoffs have been scheduled and postponements have primarily been weather-related and NOT Covid-related.  It’s nice to be outdoors.
  1. My buddy and co-announcer, John Leone, received the best and worst possible gift from his children recently – golf lessons! Oh, make no mistake, he needed them, but everyone from the professional to the hacker can attest to the fact that changing your golf swing can be catastrophic for awhile.  John shot the highest score in the history of our golf league this past week.  He had a lesson!
Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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