Boyle County senior Danielle Roney the ‘ultimate team player’

Published 10:21 am Friday, February 9, 2018

Danielle Roney played varsity basketball in eighth grade.

The team had scorers, so she just did whatever the team needed her to do.

So, she rebounded. She dove on the floor for loose basketballs. And that’s still what she’s doing as a senior.

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Roney set the Boyle County school record for rebounds against Danville on Feb. 2 and is up to 922 career rebounds with three regular-season games remaining for the Rebels. The previous record stood since 1978.

“It’s really overwhelming because it was never really my plan, I never really said, ‘hey, I want to beat this record,’” Roney said. “I actually didn’t know I was close to the record until the beginning of this year. So it’s kind of overwhelming. The Southwestern coach told me congratulations after the game and I’m like, ‘how does he know?’ It’s just like, wow, I don’t really know how to wrap my head around it. My name is actually out there like that, I’m not used to that.”

Roney had 15 rebounds against Southwestern on Feb. 6, her highest total of the season.

“When that ball is up on the glass, there’s a really good chance that she’s going to get it,” Boyle head coach Greg Edwards said. “It doesn’t seem to matter where she’s at on the court when the ball goes up. Coach (Stephen) Butcher paid her the ultimate compliment after the game, he said ‘coach I’ve never seen somebody rebound the ball like her.’ She’s somebody that in my 36 years of coaching, I may have had one or two that have been close to her relentlessness on the glass.”

Back when she first started playing for the varsity, Roney said she was nervous about how she’d fit in with stars like Kalin Bottoms, Emmie Harris and Marlee Smith.

“It was really nerve wracking, I was always nervous I was going to do something wrong,” Roney said. “But we had a lot of scorers on our team, we had Marlee Smith, Kalin Bottoms, Emmie Harris, Allie Hall, and they all knew how to score. Me coming up as a freshman starting, that wasn’t really my role. I was trying to find my role with the team, I made friendships with all of them and got really close. That really helped a lot, they kind of became my big sisters.”

Big sisters and an older brother helped her embrace the physical rebounding role.

“I’ve just always been drawn to it, I grew up with an older brother so I’ve always been physical,” Roney said. “Me and my dad, we’re always hitting each other and fighting, stuff like that. Again, that’s what they needed freshman year, they needed somebody to get on the floor and be scrappy. I finally got kneepads this year, the past three years my knees have been covered in bruises but I got kneepads this year and they’re torn up.”

Roney led the team in rebounding — as a freshman — averaging 6.5 per game. She’s kept that production her entire career, moving to 7.9 as a sophomore, 9.0 as a junior and 7.9 as a senior.

“She started playing on the varsity in the eighth grade,” Edwards said. “The big thing about Danielle, she’s somebody that has been steady her whole career. She comes to play, she never takes time off in the game. She’s somebody that has a great basketball sense and she’s relentless.

“The thing I always say, to be a great offensive rebounder, you’ve got to be relentless and you’ve got to have good instincts to where the ball is coming off. She definitely has both of those.”

Her scoring production has been steady as well: She averaged 5.7 points as a freshman, 8.3 as a sophomore, 8.3 as a junior and is up to 11.7 points per game as a senior.

“I found my role to be rebounder freshman year, definitely, because we had so many scorers on the team,” Roney said. “Sophomore year, same thing. We still had Marlee, Emmie and Allie, all huge scorers. What they needed was somebody scrappy, someone to get in there and get them the ball and get it to them. I really only define myself as a scorer this year and a little bit last year.
“I’ve definitely had to look to shoot more, I haven’t really ever done that in the past. Coach has actually gotten on me because I’m not looking to shoot, that’s never what I’ve done. So I’ve had to shoot a lot more, drive a lot more and look for more opportunities for myself instead of passing to someone else.”

She’s a coach’s dream because she doesn’t care how many points she scores, Edwards said. She doesn’t stat pad for rebounds or assists, she just wants the team to win.

“If you had a whole team that could emulate her, you’d be in great shape. Even when she’s winded she’s giving 100 percent. We’ve had some good players here and she’s won our MVP award for three years running. That says something. It’s not just rebounding with her, it’s everything … She’s the ultimate teammate, leader and player that you would want on your basketball team.”

Roney said she doesn’t mind having that “role player” tag — because her role could change with any game.

“I kind of do whatever the team needs me to do,” she said. “It’s weird looking at my stats, some games I’ll score 23, other games I’ll score four. It might look like I had a bad game but really, my team didn’t need me to score. I’ll score when I need to, I’ll pass when I need to and I’ll rebound when I need to. I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do. I embrace that because I’ve never really had that role, I’ve just done whatever I need to.”