MEDFORD - The Tufts women's basketball team has had another strong start to the season with a 12-1 record and a #6 ranking in the D3hoops.com national poll. Now in her third year as a starter for the Jumbos, senior co-captain Jac Knapp has taken on a new role as a team leader.
From Westfield, N.J., Knapp is a Child Development major who has played in 106 games since arriving on campus in 2015. Many of them have been big post-season games, and she has not shied away from the moment. Knapp made the game-clinching three-point shot against St. Thomas in the 2016-17 NCAA semi-finals to guide the Jumbos to the NCAA Championship game. Last season in the NCAA "Sweet 16" she scored 23 points on seven for nine shooting. In Knapp's four years, the brown and blue have posted a 96-13 record, appeared in three NESCAC Championship games, won 13 NCAA Tournament games, and played in two National Championship contests.
This year she is head coach Carla Berube's starting point guard and one of just two seniors on the Tufts roster. The guard has started and has been a big part of the Jumbos' offense that averages 81.8 points per game, which ranks second in the NESCAC. On December 10, Knapp earned NESCAC Player of the Week after averaging 20.0 points and 5.5 assists in the two games the Jumbos played that week.
GoTuftsJumbos.com recently caught up with Knapp to talk about basketball and more ...
Question: Why did you choose to attend Tufts?
A: I chose Tufts for its great academics as well as the excellent women's basketball program. I also liked its proximity to Boston. I am from New Jersey so I've spent a lot of time in New York City, so I knew going to college I wanted something different. When I first came to visit Tufts I had a really good feeling walking around campus. I also met with Coach Berube and discussed her expectations and what it meant to be on the women's team. I loved the entire coaching staff and everything they stood for so I knew after meeting with them that Tufts was the place for me.
Q: When did you start playing basketball and when did you know you wanted to play collegiately?
A: I started playing basketball when I was four years old. Basketball is a big sport in my family. My grandpa played at Lafayette and my dad played at Princeton. My dad was my coach as soon as I was old enough to be on a team. I have always loved basketball and basketball allowed me to have a really special relationship with my dad. He always told me that playing in college were some of his favorite memories and best years of his life. I knew as I got older I wanted to follow in his footsteps and play in college.
Q: Being one of two seniors on the team, how much more of a leadership role have you taken on?
A: I believe I am in a lead-by-example role this year. I think it's easy to say you're committed to giving 100-percent effort each day, but it's another thing to do it. Holding myself accountable allows me to be an example for my teammates. Getting to the gym for extra shots and encouraging teammates to come with me, as well as constantly pushing myself to get better so I can push my teammates to get better is my role this year. As a senior, you've been in everyone's shoes at some point so you really know how people are feeling. I do my best to be encouraging and positive for all my teammates while also being the person people can turn to for questions or if they need help with anything. I am very optimistic so I always try to find the positive in every situation and use this to help motivate my teammates.
Q: Having been a part of 96 wins since you were a freshman, how much do you think your experience will help yourself and this team?
A: I think having the experience is going to help with NESCAC games and as we get further into the season. These games can get very close and having been in these situations before I will be able to keep everyone focused and ready to go. It also can require more traveling as we get deeper into the school year. I will be able to help the underclassmen with time management with respect to school and basketball.
Q: What impact has Coach Berube had on you on and off the court?
A: Coach Berube has been a great role model both on and off the court. She has reinforced the importance of hard work and always having a team-first mentality. She constantly stresses how everyone is important on the team from 1 -17 and how all the little things and details are so essential. She has also helped me with the personal life and basketball balance. It is important to have both to be successful at either.
Q: What has been your favorite memory on the court through your four years?
A: My favorite memory was the St. Thomas game my sophomore year. The entire NCAA tournament run is honestly my favorite memory. Traveling to St. Louis (for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8) wasn't what we expected, but we were able to go out there and get two good team wins. We had so much fun traveling as a team and then when we played the final four game versus St Thomas. The last five minutes of the game was crazy. We were down 11 and we came together as a team, everyone was making plays, the bench energy was tremendous, and we were able to get the win.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between this year's and last year's teams?
A: The similarities from last year are speed, team chemistry and energy. The differences are everybody having a role, and a very deep bench. Additionally, on a personal level I get to play with my cousin Molly Ryan who is a freshman this year. That has been an awesome experience for both of us as well as our entire family.
Q: What has been your favorite class you've taken at Tufts?
A: My favorite class has been creative dance for children. I took the class this past semester with one of my teammates and absolutely loved it. It was a nice break from a typical class and I learned so much about the impact of movement in the body. In particular how beneficial dance therapy can be for children and adults.
Q: If they made a movie about you, which actress would you want to play your character and why?
A: I can't say I have a particular person in mind. I would just hope anyone they chose would be happy and smile a lot like myself.
Q: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
A: My favorite flavor of ice cream is either chocolate chip cookie dough or coffee ice cream.
Compiled By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello