A basketball foundation and education that was established years ago is now reaping huge benefits for Notre Dame junior Tierra Floyd.
An impressive knowledge of the game combined with a relentless work ethic has made Floyd one of the state's top players. Floyd, a versatile 6-foot-2 wing, averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Eagles.
Floyd led Notre Dame (24-4) to a third consecutive appearance in the Division I state semifinals — a feat unmatched in Toledo basketball history.
For those accomplishments and her outstanding season, Floyd is The Blade's girls basketball player of the year.
“It's a great honor,” she said. “I feel very fortunate that people see me as a player of the year. It's the hard work part of it. You can't get anywhere if you aren't willing to work for it. That is the same with life. It all comes together. This motivates me more to keep working even harder.”
Floyd, who earned All-Ohio first-team honors, can play inside or outside.
“Tierra has the unbelievable ability to take what the defense gives her,” Notre Dame coach Travis Galloway said. “She has a very good basketball IQ.”
Floyd started learning the basics of the game when she was 7 but said she didn't get serious until a few years later. Her primary teachers early on were her father, Terry, and mother, Netta.
Terry Floyd said to hone Tierra's guard skills they would do drills with cones, dribbling around chairs, utilizing tennis balls, and other “unorthodox things.” Terry, who played at Libbey, said he wanted his daughter to be “low and close to the ground” so that no one could take the ball from her.
“The thing about Tierra, not knowing how tall she was going to be, I wanted to prepare her as if she was going to be 5-foot-1 and have that skill set,” Terry said. “And then as height came, it was easier to incorporate the post player skills.
“With basketball, if you can develop the entire skill set, you can take advantage of mismatches. And can do anything you want on the floor.”
Floyd said she works out with her father six to seven times during the week outside of team practice.
“It takes a lot,” she said. “You have to know that practice is for your team, but you also have to work on your game individually.”
Floyd said she also studies video.
“We take a lot of time to watch each game — the good and the bad,” she said. “You have to realize what you have to get better at. Then it does come second nature. You just see it and know exactly what to do. You don't think twice. You just do what you need to do.”
Floyd has developed into a great ball-handler with polished moves. She can knock down the 3 and also is adept at driving to the basket.
“You could say I’m versatile,” Floyd said. “I take what the defense gives me. The outside game came first, doing guard stuff. Then as I got a taller I realized I could go inside and take advantage of mismatches.”
Floyd can attack opponents with her dribbling, quickness, and shooting touch. Galloway calls her the ultimate team player.
“At the end of the day a win is a win no matter how it comes,” Floyd said. “As long as everyone is together and everyone has the same goal … to do whatever it takes to win a game. You have to make your teammates better around you.”
The Eagles lost to Cincinnati Princeton 60-52 in the state semis. Floyd had 21 points. For the season she shot 41.0 percent from the floor, including 35 percent from 3-point range. She led Notre Dame to a third straight Three Rivers Athletic Conference title.
Floyd’s first coach was her mother, Cornelia “Netta” Floyd, the all-time scoring leader in school history at Massillon Washington High School. She also played at Bowling Green State University. When Tierra was younger, the Floyd family moved from the Toledo area to Pennsylvania and then to Virginia before returning back to northwest Ohio when she was 10. All the while she played on elite AAU teams — usually up one or two age groups.
Although some natural ability accounts for Floyd’s success, her dad said the skill work that she has put in is more important.
“If we count the hours, it if was like a job, we could retire for how much time she put it,” he said.
As she enters her senior season, Floyd has already received interest from many major Division I college programs. A ankle and subsequent back injury cost her part of her freshman year. But she is fully recovered and interest remains high.
“It feels great to know that I could potentially be a great player in college and maybe the WNBA,” Floyd said. “All the hard work I've put in is starting to pay off.”
Floyd said she needs to work on her rebounding and boxing out.
Terry Floyd said he hopes a scholarship opens doors for his daughter to also fulfill a goal of hers to become a coach at the collegiate level.
“Sports are something you do to build character to prepare you for life,” he said. “And if you are able to win a full-ride scholarship it puts you at an advantage.”
But first Floyd is already looking forward to next season when the Eagles will have most of their team back to make yet another run at the state title.
“The main reason why we’ve accomplished so much is because we don’t get complacent,” she said. “We’re always trying to get the next big thing.”