The evolution of Autumn Kissman’s game

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Photo Courtesy of the Golden Grizzlies

Autumn Kissman (40) celebrating on the court with her teammate, Alona Blackwell (30) during Kissman’s junior season. Kissman scored the third most points on the women’s basketball team in her senior season.

Michael Pearce, Editor-In-Chief

During her freshman season, Autumn Kissman hardly saw the floor. The 6-foot-3-inch center received five minutes per game and put up 1.6 points per game, as she sat behind older players like Leah Somerfield and Nikita Telesford.

Now, as a senior, Kissman is a leader on the court. She has evolved as a player and grown her skillset to be a versatile center. 

Kissman scored the third most points for the Golden Grizzlies in her senior season, averaging just under 10 points per game (9.2).

Not only have her statistics increased, but Head Coach Jeff Tungate believes she’s enjoying being out on the court more. 

“I think this year unlike any other year — she’s really enjoying playing the game of basketball,” he said. “She’s just much more aggressive than she had been, and she’s having much more fun playing the game than she’s had in any time she’s been here.”

That aggression has led to more free throw attempts in her senior season than Kissman attempted throughout her first three seasons. With aggression comes the need to be tough, which Tungate believes Kissman has found in her final season.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen from here in these four years is her toughness,” Tungate said. “She’s really gotten tougher over the last four years.”

More than Tungate have seen Kissman evolve throughout her four years at Oakland. Her teammates have seen her growth as well.

“I saw something different from Autumn [this season],” Jalisha Terry said in an interview with Jason Ross Jr. “I didn’t know she had this feisty side to her — she’s always been sweet and nice — but on the court she brings out this different side of her that I never really saw.”

Her final season was unusual, to say the least. Despite playing a limited schedule with no fans allowed in the O’rena, Kissman felt the team brought an energy that carried them through adversity. 

With just the Horizon — and potentially NCAA — tournament remaining, Kissman is focused on ending her collegiate career strong.

“Especially with this COVID[-19] year, we are all bringing our best energy and want to end on such a high note,” Kissman said in an interview with Ross Jr. “I think you can tell that we’re trying to enjoy the time that’s left.”

According to Tungate, the 2020-2021 team has “unbelievable chemistry.” For Tungate, it’s players like Kissman who help contribute to that.

“I think that [chemistry] starts with her,” he said. “She doesn’t care who gets the credit as long as the job gets done, and that really helps in our locker room as well.”

As someone who has seen it all as a Golden Grizzly — the bench, the opening tip and the closing moments of a game, Kissman’s advice to freshman following in her footsteps is to keep a balance in everything.

“As important as athletics and school are, you have to find that balance between that and your social life and hobbies you enjoy,” Kissman said. “Having that balance, whether it be people outside of athletics, a student organization or a hobby you enjoy is really important for your mental health.”