For junior Alexis Noren, a trip to Loree Payne’s office for weekly evaluation is usually a pleasant experience.
Noren is arguably the University of Puget Sound’s best all-around women’s basketball player.
She sits top 10 in the Northwest Conference in scoring (12.8 points per game, ranking No. 8), rebounding (6.8 rpg, No. 6), assists (3.5 apg, No. 3), steals (2.7 spg, No. 3), minutes played (33.5, No. 6) and leads the league in field-goal percentage at 54.4 percent.
The 5-foot-10 guard receives constant praise from the coaching staff and teammates for being a defensive stopper on the perimeter.
“She is a defensive difference-maker, and I think she exhausts herself playing at that level of intensity on that end,” said Payne, the Loggers’ coach.
But at the bottom of Noren’s evaluation form, whether it be preseason, postseason or during the week, Payne always leaves the same piddling but fair criticism.
“It says, ‘Need to be more aggressive on offense,’ ” Noren recites with a chuckle. “It’s been on my (evaluation) paper since my freshman year, and it will be on my paper until I graduate.”
And it is easy to see why:
▪ Noren was the first career 1,000-point scorer in Milwaukie (Oregon) High School history (2009-13).
▪ With her athleticism, she easily could have played at a higher level of college, but chose UPS anyway.
Noren averages fewer than 10 shots per game — and makes at least half of them. One of the challenging aspects for Payne is getting the junior to shoot more often.
“When you have one of the leading scorers in the league (in teammate Emily Sheldon), you take it easy. You know she does her job,” Noren said. “But I know there are games when defenses key in on her, so you know it is your time to step up (and score).
“I don’t shy away from offense. I don’t not like scoring. … But the thing about it, as long as I am consistent in the scoring I do bring, it works.”
Payne isn’t frustrated with Noren by any means. When it comes to the team’s “Hustle Board,” run by longtime assistant coach Joleen LaMay, Noren laps the field.
“Alexis makes me laugh every day, so it is hard to be frustrated with a kid who has such a great personality that lays it all on the floor, night in and night out,” Payne said. “But as a coach, you want to get the most out of your players. By the time she leaves, I want her to reach her potential.”