Mattson settles into college life, starting role at Portland

February 12, 2014

Hannah Mattson BasketballStarting on a basketball team usually breeds self-confidence for most players, but it actually had the opposite effect on University of Portland’s Hannah Mattson of Fairbanks.

“It probably made me a little more nervous to be completely honest,” she told me.

She got over that, though.

Like real fast.

Mattson, of West Valley High fame, is now thriving in Portland’s starting five and last game pumped in a career-high 11 points in a 78-59 victory over Pepperdine in NCAA D1 women’s action.

The 5-foot-9 true freshman has averaged 4.6 points in seven games as a starter compared to 2.3 in her first 13 games coming off the bench.

“When I first started I was really nervous,” she said. “I’m progressing along and kind of used to it now, which has helped make me

more comfortable. The confidence came more from being able to play more.”

Nothing signifies a coach’s trust like playing time as in that Pepperdine game she logged a season-high 21 minutes. She also drained 3-of-5 3-pointers to raise her season percentage to 37 percent.

Nearly all of her points have come on catch-and-shoot jumpers from downtown. Her specialty is drifting around the edges and finding open gaps in the defense.

“My coaches are always telling me to be ready to shoot,” she said. “I’m working on being more aggressive and creating my own points.”

It’s not easy, not at this level. It was only a year ago she was a high school senior in Alaska.

“The speed of play was the hardest to get used to because it really is so much faster once you get to college,” she said. “I continue to improve. I think I’ve definitely started to get to that point where I can ramp up my ability to get better and continue more.”

Away from basketball she has adjusted to college life just fine.

“I really like Portland,” she said. “The city itself is really cool. Being from Fairbanks, it’s really nice to have outlets to go do things and explore. I really like the area and the type of people here.”