A unique Puripattarapan leads Staples
Suvi Puripattarapan defies convention. A senior captain for the Staples girls basketball team, she possesses many unique traits, took an unchartered road to where she is today and received an unprecedented double award this year from Coach Ed Huydic at the team banquet.
"Suvi will rank up there with the best guards we had in our program's history," Huydic said. "She was iconic in that she was 100 percent hustle all the time and is the type of player whose raw energy and passion can carry a team on a day in and day out basis."
At 5-2, she excels at a game that normally much taller girls thrive in. This year, she was selected as First Team All-FCIAC and played for the West squad in the Class LL-L Connecticut High School Coaches Association Senior All-Star game.
"It feels good because all the effort I put in paid off in the end," Puripattarapan said.
Staples has a tradition of giving out two Block S's at the end of the year, one to an MVP and the other for the Coach's award. Huydic bestowed upon her the Block S Team MVP and Block S Coach's award and it's only the fourth time he gave the same person both awards.
"It feels amazing," Puripattarapan said. "I didn't expect it and I was very surprised to get both. This shows how the coaches feel about me and I'm touched by it."
She finished her career with approximately 800 points. This year, she averaged 12 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.5 steals per game.
Very few players are three and a half year starters but midway through her freshman year, she was inserted into the Lady Wreckers' starting lineup and remained there ever since.
"Suvi leaves behind her with a tradition of accomplishments and success as an undersized guard and plays much bigger than her 5-2 frame," Huydic said.
She relished this role and although she faced the normal butterflies most freshman deal with, she was able to handle things and overcome her anxiety.
"I love playing basketball and I don't want to let my teammates and coaches down," Puripattarapan said. "I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect but I'm happy my hard work paid off. I was happy to be a part of the team."
Before joining Staples, she took a path none of her teammates took. In eighth grade, she played for the Westport YMCA eighth grade boys travel team after playing for seventh grade PAL girls travel team the year before. In the end, playing with on the boys team sharpened her game.
"The boys game is so much faster," Puripattarapan recalled. "Also, I have to be more physical. Playing with the boys helped me on defense and offense. It improved my speed and it made me more aggressive on defense. [Overall], it helped me on defense and offense."
Possessing a lethal outside shot helped generate offense for the Lady Wreckers.
"I'm short and I know my strength is shooting, so I go to the gym and work for hours on my shot," Puripattarapan said.
When she's heavily guarded in the perimeter, Puripattarapan has a knack of turning the opposing defender into toast by driving past her for an easy layup.
"I can see the floor better and I'm more aggressive going to the basket," Puripattarapan said. "I'm not scared and I allow it to happen."
Opposing teams can't only focus on stopping her shots because she threads the ball well to her teammates too. When she's covered like a blanket, she adroitly found an open teammate and set her up for an easy layup.
"My game is to get to the basket and when the defense is on me, I look for the open player," Puripattarapan said. "Finding the open player comes with experience."
Normally, she's the smallest player on the court. Nevertheless, she's gotten more than her fair share of rebounds because of her plucky nature. According to Huydic, she's one of his top two or three rebounding guards in his 30-year tenure.
"It's about being aggressive and timing," Puripattarapan said. "It also depends on how far the ball will go."
Defensively, she forced her share of turnovers and came up with many big steals.
"It comes from using my feet and working on my quickness in practice," Puripattarapan said.
Sometimes, through her aggressiveness, she ties up her opponent for the jump ball. This helps the Lady Wreckers gain possession of the ball.
"I like to trap and it comes from a setup play," Puripattarapan said.
Another unique trait to her basketball background was that she didn't begin to play until seventh grade, when her father signed her up for a basketball camp. Usually, the high caliber players, especially the smaller ones start at an early age. She played soccer recreationally from kindergarten to sixth grade.
"I enjoy playing basketball and I love being on a team," Puripattarapan said. "I love team sports and I learn about life in general from it."
In addition to basketball, she was a reliable setter for the Staples girls volleyball team. She began playing it freshman year and contributed to the Lady Wreckers defensively and serving.
"I had a good coach and I went to volleyball camp [Connecticut Juniors] every summer," Puripattarapan said. "I learned about the game and I improved my skills. I worked in practice to improve my setting."
Leadership is a strength of hers as well as she served as captain, leading the team mostly by example through her work ethic.
"It was a lot of hard work and responsibility but it was good because my teammates were able to come to me with their problems," Puripattarapan said.
Academically, she takes two AP courses, environment and calculus. Math is her favorite subject.
"I learned that getting every thing done early is important and I don't have too much free time because of sports and I need to use my time wisely," Puripattarapan said.
Next year, she plans to play college basketball, either at Wooster College in Ohio or Mount Holyoke College. She knows in order to play well collegiately, she'll have to raise her game to the next level.
"I have to go to the gym, get faster, be more physical, work on my game and go out and play," Puripattarapan said.
Huydic believes she'll continue to thrive on the court.
"At the Division III level, she can be a sparkplug on both ends of the court," he said. "In a program where transition is emphasized, she can flourish. We'll hear of her again."