Barrs setting her mark as all-time Lamar basksetball great

Barrs setting her mark as all-time Lamar basksetball great

Lamar University’s women’s basketball program is rich in history. Everyone remembers March 17, 1991, when the Cardinals defeated LSU 93-73 in front of nearly 10,000 fans in the Montagne Center in the third round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Then there was the resurgence of wins beginning in 2007, but what coach Robin Harmony and her team has been doing weekly since she became the head coach in 2013 is nothing short of spectacular.

The team is in the midst of a 37-game home win streak and rosters one of the most exciting college basketball players in the game — Chastadie Barrs.

The 5-foot-8 senior from Desoto has been setting records every game. Recently, she picked up her third Southland Conference Player of the Week award for the season. On Jan. 17, Barrs recorded her third consecutive triple-double, ninth overall, with 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana. She is now second on the NCAA all-time list.

She nearly pulled off an incredible feat Jan. 9 in New Orleans. Barrs finished the game with 17 points, 12 steals, 10 rebounds and 9 assists — meaning she was one assist away from a quadruple-double. Something very rare in basketball.

Halfway into the season, Barrs is averaging 34.3 minutes per game and is second on the team in scoring at 15.2 points. She is team leader in 7.1 re-bounds, 5.7 steals and 6.2 assists per game.

“In high school she was a great defender with a very high motor,” said Harmony. “She wasn’t the best of shooters, but we knew we could work with her. You can have the worst shot in the world, but as long as you put time in the gym with shot repetition, it doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to go in.”

Harmony credits Associate Head Coach Randy Schneider for helping her find her scoring ability by breaking her shot down, then rebuilding it.

“She was green offensively, so it’s a credit to her,” said Schneider. “It didn’t come naturally. She really had to work where she is now. Her freshman year she couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

Known as an athlete playing point guard, Barrs took it upon herself to become a better basketball player. Before and after practice, she spent hours shooting the basketball, sometimes not leaving the gym until she made 500 shots a day for the last three seasons.

“A lot of kids don’t want to do that,” said Schneider, “but she wanted to improve, and prove to everyone she was more than a defensive player.”

Earlier this season, Barrs joined elite company by being the second player in NCAA Division I history to score 1,000 points, collect 500 rebounds, dish out 500 assists and pick up 500 steals in a career. She also moved into third-place all-time on the NCAA career steals list with 552 and is 70 away from the national record.

But Barrs could have easily been playing for a different university.

“Chaz” was playing third string on an AAU elite travel team out of Dallas in high school behind All-American Alexis Morris from Beaumont Legacy Christian.

Schneider said he remembers the first time he saw Barrs play during an AAU tournament in Virginia. She played just five minutes in the first game, but had three steals and was “wrecking havoc on defense,” which was a perfect fit for Lamar.

Schneider inquired about Chaz, but her mother Felicia Barrs told him that Lamar would probably be No. 10 on the list. Chaz was getting attention from bigger schools like Texas A&M.

Then, tragedy struck. Barrs was involved in a car accident and thought she would lose all her scholarship offers. Many of the big schools did drop their interest, but not Lamar.

Schneider actually spoke to Barrs before she went into surgery to reassure her that Lamar wanted her to come to Beaumont and play basketball.

Originally projected to miss a year of court time because of the injury, Barrs was back in just four short months, which led to bigger Division I universities re-offering scholarships. But as Lamar stayed loyal with Barrs, Chaz returned the favor.

The Mount Rushmore of Lamar women’s basketball includes the likes of Travesa Gant, Kalis Loyd, Ramona Jones and Jenna Plumley. Make room for Barrs.

“I think she is the best overall player at Lamar,” said Harmony. “Chaz can do it all. That’s why she is so valuable. She can defend and take care of the offense for you.

“She’s also a great kid and comes from a great family. She is passionate about both school and basketball. Chaz has graduated early and is working on her master’s degree. She is a great leader. She’s the reason that we win.”

Harmony insists that Barrs can play on the next level.

“Absolutely,” said Harmony. “She is somebody they need in the WNBA. Not a lot of defenders and stoppers in the league. She will be valuable.”

Coach Schneider has coached four girls who have went on to play in the WNBA and said Barrs belongs in that group.

“I still think her best basketball is ahead of her,” he said. “She will make everyone around her better, just because of her intensity.”

But this Cardinal basketball team is more than just one player. They play an excited brand of basketball, and fans seem to love it.

“I know that everyone we have convinced to come watch this team one time is hooked,” said Harmony. “We play above the rim, we have a lot of energy and we press for 40 minutes. It’s a lot of action. Just come one time, and we will get you to come back.”

The next home game is Wednesday, Jan. 30, against Nicholls at 7 p.m


Chad Cooper is the sports editor. Contact cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com