Miriam Zabinsky and Cydnie Jones are two women’s basketball transfers who have stepped up to fill critical positions left open by Allison Greene and Sendy Valles after injuries put them out for the year.
Greene and Valles were the team’s first- and second-leading scorers in the 2013-14 season. Greene led the team in assists with 131 and Valles in rebounds with 224. They, too, were transfers entering the 2013-14 season.
Zabinsky and Jones have had similar success in their transitions, becoming the team’s second- and fourth-leading scorers this season.
“They both have incredibly good attitudes,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “They work hard and really made it a point to try to fit in with the team and understand what Azusa Pacific basketball is about.”
Zabinsky averages 12.4 points per game and has made big plays for the Cougars, including a last minute 3-pointer that sent the Jan. 21 game against Point Loma into overtime.
Jones has adjusted well to her position as a point guard, averaging 9.5 points per game while dishing out 88 assists for the Cougars so far this season, making her third overall in the PacWest.
The decision to be a part of the APU basketball team was not difficult for the transfers. They each knew players on the team before joining.
Zabinsky attended Valley Center High School in Valley Center, California, with junior forward Lauren Gilster. Her relationship with Gilster and Azusa’s close proximity to family helped her make the decision to come to APU.
As for Jones, she had played with Lisha Elsenbach at Cal Poly Pomona before the latter transferred in 2013. Elsenbach played a role in Jones’ decision to come to APU.
The transition to the team was a positive experience, according to Zabinsky and Jones. Zabinsky admits there is an increased level of difficulty coming from a junior college, but she has embraced it.
“Everything’s been a step up and it’s been harder, but it’s been a good challenge,” she said. “I enjoy it a lot.”
Jones says that being on the basketball team at APU was a drastic change from being on the squad of her last team at Cal Poly Pomona.
“Over here, it feels like it’s more of a family,” said Jones.
Jones did not have the strong bond with her Bronco teammates that she shares with her current Cougars. She recalls spending much of her time there alone, while here she has grown close to Zabinsky and other players.
“I think it helps a lot being close with your teammates to make the chemistry better and make practice more fun,” Zabinsky said.
Along with spending time with Jones, Zabinsky lives with teammates Gilster and Kelly Hardeman, which has allowed them to spend time together and form a sister-like relationship.
“They fit in really well and everyone gets along,” Hardeman said.
The bond that Zabinsky and Jones have built with each other and their teammates off the court has contributed to the communication they have on it.