Women's basketball notebook: Hamden's Taniyah Thompson finds home at East Carolina

What is Hamden’s Taniyah Thompson doing when she’s not playing basketball?

Watching basketball.

Or, more specifically, splicing highlights of basketball.

“On my free time, I record sports highlights and I edit them,” said Thompson, a sophomore at East Carolina University. “That’s actually part of my major, which is communications, and I’m looking to go into broadcasting after that.

“I’ve always wanted to be behind the lens and in front of the lens, as well.”

Suffice to say, Thompson has produced her fair share of highlights in her year-plus at ECU, including 19 points in a Thanksgiving weekend victory over Virginia. The win was just the Pirates’ second over a Power Five school in the last six seasons.

For Thompson, it was a continuation of last year’s efforts when she was second on the Pirates in scoring (13.7 PPG) and started all 30 games, making the American Athletic Conference’s All-Freshman Team.

“Knowing what my coaches expect of me, having that confidence in high school and bringing it over here, it’s different,” said Thompson, who was a two-time all-state selection at Hamden, where she scored a school-record 1,877 points. “It’s different athletes, but I’m just playing my role and doing what I can do best.”

“She’s the hardest worker that we have on our team,” added coach Kim McNeill, “and she’s so committed and so bought into what we are doing at East Carolina.”

Now, Thompson’s focus is on stringing more of those performances together even as defenses tighten their grip. The 5-foot-11 guard went 0-for-6 from the floor and failed to score in Saturday’s blowout loss to Duke, this after she was held to seven points against Georgia on Thursday. She’s averaging 10.0 points on 27.8 percent shooting through four games, numbers that are slightly down compared to a year ago.

“There’s no pressure,” Thompson said prior to the two-game losing streak. “It’s just knowing my role and executing it.”

Thompson said she’s comfortable playing for McNeill, which isn’t really a surprise. After all, McNeill is the reason why she decided to come to Greenville, N.C., in the first place for the next chapter of her basketball journey.

Thompson was originally committed to Rhode Island, but reopened her recruitment after the Rams fired coach Daynia La-Force in March 2019. McNeill and her husband, associate head coach Cory McNeill, who had recruited Thompson when they were on Hartford’s staff, quickly jumped back into the mix.

“Them being family people, it was pretty hard going away from home, but they made it very easy,” Thompson said. “I was always home. The only time I was away from home was traveling for AAU and things of that nature.

“Knowing Coach Kim and Coach Cory already and trusting them, it was easier to come down here.”

And that decision appears to be paying off.

“Here,” Thompson said, “it’s home-away-from-home.”

A new No. 1

Stanford took over the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll Monday, following a week in which two Top Five teams lost. The Cardinal received 24 of 30 votes from a national media panel. Meanwhile, UConn, which has yet to play a game due to a COVID-19 shutdown, remained third.

The Huskies were sandwiched between Louisville and NC State in the rankings, with each school collecting two first-place votes.

South Carolina dropped from No. 1 to No. 5, while Baylor fell three spots to No. 7. The Gamecocks and Lady Bears lost to NC State and Arkansas, respectively, last week.

Another Big East program on pause

Xavier has postponed three straight games — including its first two Big East contests — due to COVID-19 protocols within its program. The school has yet to provide a timeline for its return, but any extended shutdown would certainly put its Dec. 19 game at UConn in jeopardy.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour