Some things just naturally go together.
Cookies and milk, bacon and eggs, or Drake and Josh for example.
For the Rowan women’s basketball team, the best duo is the combination of Valerie Garofalo and Anyssa Sanchez.
They might not be a household combo yet, but if the junior guards keep up their play that has paced the team to a 7-0 start, they soon will be.
Behind Sanchez’s aggressive, driving mentality and Garofalo’s energetic yet in control play, the Profs have won their first seven games for the second year in a row.
“I always say Val’s never had a bad day and it’s tough to have a bad day if you’re around her. She does a lot to motivate our team,” head coach Gabby Lisella said. “Val is more of a playmaker and gets people involved, she really sees the team as a big picture. In addition to all the things she brings on the court, her attitude is her biggest contribution.”
Garofalo is a full time starter for Rowan this year after logging 571 minutes and three starts in 25 games last season.
She has shown her worth on the team by averaging six points, five assists, and three rebounds a game. Surprisingly, the 5-5 Garofalo also leads the team in blocks.
“Every time I try to block a shot, coach says, “you’ve got to close out, you’re not a shot blocker,” but like, who’s leading the team,” Garofalo said through laughs. “I don’t know what to say about that. I try not to foul. I guess I’m just sneaky. Or the refs don’t see the foul.”
Playing opposite of Garofalo is Sanchez, who, unlike her backcourt mate, started 25 of 26 games last season. Sanchez says she’s very comfortable with her role on the team.
“Anyssa’s just tremendously athletic. She also has a tremendous work ethic. She’s always in the gym working on improving her game, just a steady performer whose athleticism is incredible,” Lisella said. “She’s a slasher who’s worked hard to develop an outside shot. She’s always been a good defender on the ball.”
That good defense has been evident this year especially as Sanchez leads the team with 20 steals. Garofalo is second with 18.
“We’re the top of the press and that’s where the pressure is most so we just tip the ball or whatever,” Garofalo said. “It’s just high intensity and in your face.”
“It’s all about aggression, Val’s great at that,” Sanchez said. “She says I’m quick, but I think she’s one of the quickest on the team.”
Sanchez has also been getting it done offensively, currently averaging close to 13 points a game while shooting around 57 percent.
“It’s just that aggression and taking the ball to the basket,” Sanchez said. “I get my shots when I can but I think overall as a team we have that equal balance of who can take that shot, like Kait Schullstrom and who can take it to the basket, which pretty much anyone on the team can take it. I think we’re gonna keep being successful if we play like that.”