The Big Change--involving heart, soul and high tops--came almost instantly for Susan Tousey of Brea-Olinda High School last summer.
Tousey, a 6-foot 3-inch senior center, transformed from a talented-but-unaggressive player to super center. It happened at the Santana tournament last July.
"She was like a woman possesed out there," said Leanne Tousey, Susan's mother. "She just set her jaw, and said, 'I am going to do it!' "
What Tousey did was average 23 points through four games, wowing coaches, parents and teammates and receiving the tournament's most valuable player award.
Last season, Tousey stood in the scoring shadows of Wildcats Kristin McPhee, now at Northern Arizona, and Carrie Egan, now at Cal Poly Pomona.
"I almost hid last year," Tousey said. "With Carrie and Kristin always playing so well, I didn't develop much confidence in myself."
But that was then, and this is Tousey now: quicker, leaner and more aggressive.
Tousey, The Times' player of the week, averaged 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in four games to lead the Wildcats to the Brea-Olinda tournament championship last week. She had 28 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocked shots in the title game.
This season, Tousey has averaged 20 points and 7 rebounds for Brea-Olinda (8-0).
"Susan has just turned it around," Wildcat Coach Mark Trakh said. "She gets the ball during clutch time where she used to just let the others get it.
"Susan used to be a Dow Joneser. Always up or down. Now she's right in there all the time, no matter who she's up against."
Trakh, who has known Tousey since she was in sixth grade, knew she had the potential to be an exceptional player. But a mental and physical "laziness" kept her from playing her best, Trakh said.
"Her mental attitude was just not at all intense," Trakh said. "As a junior, her workout habits were poor. She just didn't want to practice hard. But now she does. Now she's very diligent doing her weights or in practice."
The source of this new-found dedication?
Tousey says it was a simple agreement she made with herself last summer before the Santana tournament.
"I just made up my mind this would be my year," Tousey said. "And I have to (play well). The team counts on me; I count on myself.
"It was a big change, but it's a lot more fun."
Brea-Olinda High School
Height, Class: 6-3, Sr.
Last Week: Tousey averaged 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in 4 games--including 28 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocked shots in the title game--to lead the Wildcats to the Brea-Olinda tournament championship.
Season: Tousey averages 20 points and 7 rebounds.