LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Looking back, Lily Grenci has developed into such a great player, she even surprised herself.
Grenci, a senior forward on the Siena College women’s basketball team, has made huge strides the past two seasons, leading the Division I school in scoring and rebounding.
“I didn’t think I’d develop into the offensive player that I did,” said Grenci. “I didn’t realize how good I could become.”
Grenci scored a career-best 30 points in a 75-60 victory over Saint Peter’s Thursday, broadcasted by ESPN3, the highest output by a Saints player in four years.
Entering Friday’s game against Fairfield, Grenci is averaging 15.4 points and nine rebounds per game. She’s shooting 82.2 percent from the free-throw line and 42.4 from 3-point range.
In 17 games, Grenci has led the team in rebounding 14 times and scoring 11 times.
Last year, she averaged 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds as a junior.
“I just focused on every aspect of my game,” Grenci said. “Last year, I just put everything together.”
This year, however, the Saints have a new coach in Ali Jaques. Along with that, the Saints are a young team.
“I’ll tell you, she’s been nothing short of great,” Jaques said. “She’s been one of my favorite players since Day 1. I think she has played a really pivotal role in my transition as a coach here.
“It can be scary, being a senior and having a new coach, but she’s been positive about the whole experience. We’ve bonded and have been able to talk on and off the court,” Jaques added.
“She’s been great,” Grenci said of Jaques. “She wanted to win with the players she has now. Last year I led the team in scoring and rebounding so I don’t think anything changed.
“She’s competitive and wants to win. It’s been great developing a relationship with her,” Grenci added.
As expected, the Saints got off to a slow start, but three straight wins in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference have allowed the team to move to 3-3, 7-10 overall.
That this team was eventually going to come around came as no surprise to Grenci.
“I know there was going to be some growing pains,” Grenci said. “My team is really tough and the girls are really competitive. We lost some really close games.
“We’re making progress every game. It’s frustrating because we were in control of those game. We were hurting ourselves but that’s coming along,” Grenci added.
With a leader like Grenci, that was eventually going to happen.
“Lily’s been very, very consistent,” Jaques said. She’s extremely mature and handles herself well. She’s really focused and a really driven young woman.”
That has also shown in the classroom where Grenci, a sociology major with a cumulative 3.85 GPA, was selected as one of 30 candidates nationally for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes student-athletes’ excellence in community, classroom, character and competition.
The list of candidates will be reduced to 10 by mid-season, then the winner will be announced during the Women’s Final Four April 7 and 9.
“As a student, I’m totally humbled and honored and thankful,” Grenci said. “It’s a great award and it looks beyond what you do on the court but in the class and community.”
“She’s a successful leader not just for our program but for student-athletes,” Jaques said. “I don’t think she’s done yet. She has half a season left and she wants to still finish her career strong.”