Courtesy UT Athletics
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 | 12:30 a.m.
When she steps on the court for home games, there are a minimum of 4,000 fans in the stands — sometimes double that for rivalry games.
But the pressure of major college basketball has not affected Ashley Gayle. The 2008 Bishop Gorman graduate has already made an impact competing for No. 16 Texas, averaging 15 minutes per game as a freshman.
"It's way different from high school because you have a lot of people there always cheering for you," Gayle said. "It's loud and it's hard to hear everything, but it's an adrenaline rush. It's almost like living a dream because a year ago I was sitting at home in Las Vegas watching (Texas) play on TV."
Gayle is second on the team with 37 blocks and fourth in rebounds at 3.8 per contest.
"My defense is something that's always been there, and coach (Gail Goestenkors) has stressed I need to be a power on defense," Gayle said. "Preventing people from scoring is something she really wants me to do. I need to keep increasing my rebounding average."
Dominating defensively isn't new to Gayle. She finished her high school career with three consecutive triple-doubles, including 31 blocks, in the state playoffs. Gayle chipped in 18 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks in the 4A championship game against Reno High to lead Gorman to a third consecutive state title.
Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said of the 19 Division I basketball players she has coached in the last decade, Gayle is in the top five.
"Every year in high school she got better and was dominating her senior year," Krmpotich said. "She has the will and desire to be the best and that was proven at the end of last season."
Though Gayle admits the conditioning and intensity of the college game has been a big adjustment, she said she hasn't necessarily been surprised with her performance at Texas thus far.
"The coaching staff here expects a lot out of us," she said. "This is where they wanted me to be, and now they expect me to go further. To compete for a ranked team knowing we have the potential to do big things is very exciting."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or email@example.com.