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February 11, 2010

A shooter's mentality - Lindsay Biggs has persevered through tough times to become one of the best long-distance bombers in Tech history

By: Matt Kovatch

Lindsay Biggs

Lindsay Biggs is a shooter.

The type of shooter with unlimited range, and one who’s a 3-point threat soon after she crosses half-court.

The type of shooter whom opponents prepare for days in advance, trying to figure ways to prevent her from getting open looks.

But also the type of shooter who goes through slumps, as evidenced by a four-game, late-January swoon during which she shot a combined 6-of-36 for 14 points.

She had heated back up by press time, hitting a combined 14-of-30 for 33 points in the first two games of February. How did she do it? The only way a shooter can – she just kept on shooting.

In some ways, it’s a good parallel to the way the senior guard’s career has gone. Shots can’t go in unless you keep lofting them up there, and you can’t get through some tough times unless you keep moving forward.

Biggs has done both.

Lindsay Biggs has shot her way to second place on Virginia Tech's all-time list for 3-pointers made, hitting nearly 200 treys during her career.

Born and raised in nearby Richmond, Biggs first joined an organized basketball team in the fourth grade. Though she admits she was “pretty awful” when she first started, an AAU coach quickly noticed her potential and asked her to join the team.

“The first couple of years of AAU, I was just average,” the humble Biggs said. “But one year, I just grew and started to play a lot better than I had been. Once I got into high school – maybe ninth or 10th grade – I realized I could potentially play in college.”

Like all collegiate prospects, Biggs got bombarded with letters and phone calls from schools that were interested in her. She had been in contact with ACC foes like Boston College and Wake Forest, and even had an offer from hometown VCU, but Virginia Tech was in her heart all along.

“My brother and sister both went here,” Biggs said. “I’d always liked it here when I would come visit them, but I didn’t think I’d actually end up playing basketball here – that’s kind of crazy that it happened.”

When Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger and her staff arrived in 2004, Biggs was one of the first to attend the elite camp that they ran in the summer.

“We weren’t sure about Lindsay at first because we hadn’t seen her play a whole lot,” assistant coach Shellie Greenman remembered. “But the thing for us early on was that we wanted people who wanted to be here, and we knew that Lindsay came from a Hokie family. Once we started watching her, it was evident how well she could score and shoot the ball and how competitive she was. She was a gym rat. She was always in the gym shooting and working hard.”

Not more than 30 minutes after Dunkenberger called Biggs with a scholarship offer in the summer before her senior year of high school, Biggs was on board.

“It was kind of a no-brainer,” Biggs laughed.

Biggs enjoyed a solid freshman season in 2006-07, playing in all 34 games and making a team-high 28 3-pointers. But the following year, she didn’t quite make the jump that many expected. Her field-goal percentage dipped a little, and despite starting six games, she only hit four more 3-pointers than the year before. She wasn’t quite clicking with all of the coaching staff and her confidence was lacking.

“Freshman and sophomore year, I wish I would’ve been a little more aggressive,” Biggs said. “But I was still getting used to playing with everyone and still getting used to the program. Sometimes I just held myself back and I’m not sure why.”

“Maybe it was a sophomore slump, or maybe she wasn’t ready for the expectations,” Greenman said. “She struggled with her confidence during that time. That’s probably her Achilles’ heel. Her personality is very laid back and she’s not an aggressive type of person at all. She’s quiet and unassuming, but she’s tried really hard to step outside of her shell.”

Biggs ended the 2007-08 season looking toward a fresh start as a junior. But then the unthinkable happened.

On July 3, 2008, 20-year-old J.D. Burroughs died tragically in a car accident while driving to his summer job in Spotsylvania County north of Richmond. Burroughs was a young man whom most people knew as the affable student manager for the Tech football team, but he also happened to be Biggs’ boyfriend of more than two years.

“It was obviously a tragedy and it happened all of the sudden,” Biggs remembered. “It was definitely a crazy experience. It was kind of like losing your best friend, too. But my teammates were really helpful. My friends from home were close with both of us so they helped me out a lot, and my parents and brother and sister were always there for me. It was a combination of everyone. It made me realize how many friends I have and how many people are there for me.”

Naturally, Biggs turned to basketball. She was in a real-life slump, and her shooter’s mentality helped get her out of it.

“Once the season got here, I found myself putting all my focus into basketball and that definitely helped out a lot,” Biggs explained. “If I was just a regular student, not having much to do but schoolwork, I think it would’ve been a little worse. You have to use that kind of stuff as motivation sometimes, and that’s what I tried to do. I think that’s one of the reasons why I had a good season last year. I was really motivated. Basketball was definitely a getaway for me when I had my bad days.”

Biggs responded with a breakout junior season, starting all 30 games, averaging 12.4 points per contest and hitting a single-season, school-record 71 3-pointers. She also set a Tech ACC single-game record with seven treys at Maryland.

“It really amazed me how she handled it,” Greenman said of Biggs’ loss. “I think basketball was really something that helped keep her mind off of it. I have a lot of respect for her that she was able to do what she did, come out every night and play and practice despite being filled with so much pain and hurt. She’s not one to show a lot of emotion, but I think that really made her grow up a lot during that time.”

Though it’s an experience Biggs will never forget, she was able to move forward both on the court and off.

“You’ve got to move on,” she said. “You can’t think about it all day. I’m actually dating someone else now, so that’s definitely helped out a lot. I obviously still think about it and I stay in touch with [J.D.’s] family, but it’s alright. It’s part of life and you’ve just got to keep going.”

Biggs has kept on going with an admirable senior year, moving into second place on Tech’s all-time list for 3-pointers made, with a chance to claim first if she has a strong finish to the season.

“I had no idea I would rank second in 3-pointers here,” Biggs admitted. “I wasn’t even aware of it until my brother and dad told me about it. I wasn’t always just a 3-point shooter, but it’s definitely become my thing here. All in all, it’s been a pretty good career. I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Like many seniors preparing to graduate – as Biggs will do this May with a degree in sociology after she completes a semester-long internship in the athletics office of student life – she wonders about what comes next.

“I’ve been trying to think about that a lot lately, but I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve told people this, but if I have an opportunity to play basketball, I’m going to take it. If not, I’ve been looking at grad school stuff and some of the programs here. My dad has his own business so if all else fails, maybe I could just work with him for a little bit. It’s kind of coming up on me fast so I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do.”

No matter what happens, all Biggs has to do is go back to what has worked for her in the past – she’s got to keep shooting. Something is bound to go in.