Dunked into @Towson_WBB Season, Johnson Comes Up Swimmingly
Courtesy: Milton Kent, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 01/16/2013

There are those who believe the best way to teach someone to swim is to throw the prospective swimmer into a large body of water and let her flail until she learns the skill for herself.

That's roughly what Towson women's basketball coach Joe Mathews has done with point guard Dominique Johnson, tossing her into the deep waters of running the offense for a team in one of the nation's best mid-major conferences, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

It's been an exhilarating experience, to say the least, for the Tigers and Johnson, but one she wouldn't trade.

"I love the situation I'm in," said Johnson, a 5-foot-6 freshman from Laurel, Md. "In order for me to get to the top, I have to start at the bottom. I can't take the pressure as a negative. Some people may crack, but I feel this is a challenge.

"Everything that is getting thrown at me, the situation I'm in is a challenge, and I love it, because it shows how strong I am and what I'm capable of. Hopefully - not hopefully - I know it's going to blossom into something beautiful."

To a certain degree, Johnson's immersion at the point is not unexpected. Mathews indicated in the preseason that Johnson would likely move into the starting lineup once she joined the team in mid-December and then got the hang of college ball.

It was a sensible idea, given that Johnson led her Riverdale Baptist squad to a 33-3 record last year and the National Association of Christian Athletes national title.

What neither Mathews nor Johnson bargained for was the decimation of the Towson lineup because of illness and injuries, leaving the Tigers to play "seven strong," as the team calls it. The Tigers have dropped three straight heading into Thursday night's home game with George Mason.

The absence of so many players from the roster has only further ratcheted up the need for Johnson to shed her basketball childhood, if you will, and grow into the position as fast as possible.

"I need to mature quickly," said Johnson, who chose Towson over James Madison. "I can't have the freshman mistakes that freshmen go through. With me being the point guard, I don't have anyone above me experience-wise to have my back. I have to know everything."

So far, Johnson is keeping the mistakes to a minimum, posting 11 points in her collegiate debut against Bucknell, with a 20-point effort two games later against Maine, a performance that earned her CAA Rookie of the Week honors.

"I feel like every day, I'm learning something new and I feel as though pressure makes diamonds," said Johnson. "I can crack that coach puts all of this on me or I can make something of it."

Along the way, Johnson's admiration for Mathews has deepened, as he has shown her increasing confidence in her abilities and her maturity.

"He never ever lets go of his faith (in the team), no matter how bad a practice we might have," said Johnson. "What this man does for this team is out of this world."

And soon enough, Johnson believes, her team will be out of this world as well.

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