Senior Kim Roberson lunged toward the sideline hoping to get a steal.
Instead, she got a dislocated finger.
Roberson, the defensive general for the Hoosiers, grasped her hand as she lay on the ground in a recent practice.
After spending a few minutes on the sideline with trainer Robert Black, Roberson rejoined her teammates in a shooting drill.
After the injury, Roberson said she was thinking about her teammates while standing on the sideline.
“Just cheering my teammates on,” Roberson said. “Whether it’s being hurt or in foul trouble or my time to sit on the bench, I’m just trying to do whatever to be a team player and cheer them on, and my focus is on the game.”
Roberson constantly throws her body across the court in practice and games, earning the nickname “Kamikaze Kim” for her hustle. The Indianapolis native is covered in tape but keeps fighting.
IU coach Felisha Legette-Jack said despite all the hurt Roberson’s body goes through, she continues to work hard.
“Most people would have said ‘I’m going to shut it down,’ but not with this kid right here,” Legette-Jack said as she watched Roberson and the Hoosiers practice. “Right now you look at her face and she’s grimacing every time she catches the ball.”
Some leaders are vocal, and some lead by example. Roberson does both – with humility.
“Kim is a joy to have on this team,” Legette-Jack said. “She doesn’t like anybody talking about her. She doesn’t want any credit. All she wants to do is have this team become successful. Without her we are just an average team. With her spirit we always have a chance.”
Perhaps Roberson should get some credit.
She’s tied for the program’s single-game steals record after swiping nine last year against Wake Forrest. Roberson and teammate Whitney Thomas are racing each other for the all-time school steals record. Roberson’s 228 steals are just two shy of Thomas’, who is tied for the record.
But Roberson is no slouch offensively, either, with a career high of 28 points in a game.
She said she is not doing anything special, since the motto of the team is “defense.”
“I think that’s the statement of our program,” she said. “That’s what we want to build our program on: hard working and always hustling and trying to dive for that loose ball. Coach Jack always uses a phrase, ‘chip a tooth’ for it, so I think that the philosophy of this program is hustle, hard work, blue collar.”
What Roberson might not realize is her dedication and work ethic inspires teammates, including fellow senior Amber Jackson.
“For us, it really shows the type of passion she has,” Jackson said. “It makes us want to play harder, because if someone can go through what she goes through, putting her body through all that pain and hurt, and for her to come back – that shows us we are not even hurt, so we should be giving it more just like she is every play.”
Although Roberson appears to be a more quiet, lead-by-example player, she is also not afraid to speak up.
If something is not clear or she sees something her team could be doing differently, she doesn’t hesitate to speak up.
Legette-Jack said she sees a coach in the making with Roberson.
“I’ve never learned it the way she did at this age,” Legette-Jack said. “It was after college that I picked up how to watch film. She is way ahead of the curve. She is going to be a very good coach if indeed that is the choice she makes.”
Roberson said she might be interested in coaching but added she does not want to limit her possibilities.
Still, coaching isn’t on Roberson’s mind as she dives across the court for a loose ball.
“If you look at Kim, sometimes she is taped up from the shoulder down to her ankle,” Jackson said. “I definitely admire someone who puts their body through something like that.”
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