Wellesley’s Katie Benzan courting excellence at Harvard
Is Katie Benzan a fixture in the backcourt at Harvard? Since her arrival at Lavietes Pavilion, the former Noble & Greenough School standout has started in 75 of a possible 76 games. And the 5-foot-6-inch junior from Wellesley is already a two-time first team All-Ivy selection.
This season, she paces the Crimson (10-7) in scoring (15 points per game) and assists (4.5 per game), tying her career high with 27 points against Quinnipiac in late November.
At Nobles, Benzan was a five-year starter, a two-year Independent School League MVP, two-year team captain, and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, finishing with 2,153 career points. The Bulldogs were a sizzling 125-8 overall in her tenure.
She is just continuing a family legacy of excellence on the court.
Her mother, Kim, a Brockton High Hall of Famer who has coached at Dover-Sherborn Regioinal and Needham High, played at Holy Cross, where she met her future husband, John, a Malden Catholic grad. Katie’s brother, Patrick, a senior guard at Holy Cross, is a Roxbury Latin grad who prepped at Worcester Academy.
So with the Ivy and Patriot League slates, the Benzans are pretty busy with basketball every weekend.
After a weekend road trip to Yale (a 65-62 loss) and Brown (a 100-83 win), Katie took a few minutes to chat with the Globe.
Q. Your coach, Kathy Delaney-Smith, calls you one of the best shooters in the country. How did you develop that shot?
A. I’m from a basketball family. . . . And every day I was going to the gym and just put in shots and repetition. I was really fortunate in having a great mentor in both my parents and my brother, who gave me tips and advice to really help me to become the best player that I could be.
Q. Penn defended you very well in last year’s [Ivy League tournament]. How much harder do you have to work to get your shot off now?
A. Now the secret’s out that I’m a good shooter, so now teams are trying to take away my [3-pointers] and I just have to be ready when that one slip-up happens, to knock down the shot. If I don’t get my shot, I have to have other tools in my toolbox to help my team win. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many points I score as long as Harvard has more points than our opponent.
Q. What did you learn at Nobles that you’ve applied to your game at Harvard?
A. I was very fortunate in the sense that I had a great high school coach in Alex Gallagher, he taught me that literally hard work beats talent any day. He taught me that if you put your mind to something and put in the work, you can achieve whatever you like. That still carries over to today, especially at Harvard, an underdog [in basketball] compared to Princeton and Penn.
Q. What is the favorite part of your major, psychology?
A. Right now I’m taking a class called psychology of women. . . . It teaches us about these stereotypes but also how to break through these stereotypes. As a woman of color, there are so many barriers placed on me by society but I have to learn to take those stereotypes, prove them wrong, and say that I am different from your generalization. I am who I am and not a generalization.
Q. What is your dream job?
A. I can’t tell you an answer to that question because one day it’s to be a supreme court justice, another to be a marketing CEO, it’s all over the place to be honest. . . . I would like to be a college coach too right now. I’m applying to many internships in many many different fields to see what I like best. . . . I’m just focusing on the moment right now.
Q. Has there ever been a thought of you playing in the WNBA?
A. That’s a common question I get. I haven’t crossed it off my list yet and if the opportunity comes I definitely want to go get a chance, try out, and I’m only young once. I can always put off the work force, if I do get a chance I would try, but we’ll see.