For as long as she has played basketball, Isabella Posset has worn No. 4. So when the former Beaver standout came to Robert Morris, her uniform number of choice was obvious.
But that jersey came with some history.
No. 4 was worn by Anna-Niki Stamolamprou. She helped the RMU women’s basketball team win three Northeast Conference titles, was NEC Player of the Year in 2017 and is the second-leading scorer in program history.
Stamolamprou found out about Posset’s choice and contacted coach Charlie Buscaglia from her native Greece, where she is playing professionally for the Olympiacos club.
“She called me and said, ‘Coach, somebody’s got my number. Is she somebody who is going to represent that number well?’ Buscaglia said. “I said, ‘Anna, Bella is someone who can be a nice player for us. … She has an opportunity to represent that number well.’ ”
Stamolamprou then posted a message to Posset on social media, encouraging her to do the No. 4 proud.
“Sometimes I thought I should just let her jersey go,” Posset said. “But I four has always been a part of me. I just needed to take it.
“(Stamolamprou) said this is such an amazing jersey … very kind words, kind of like a motivational push to me. It was nice.”
Posset is living up to No. 4’s legacy. Through the Colonials’ first 10 games, she is second on the team in scoring (7.9 points per game), second in steals (15) and tied for the lead in assists (25).
In RMU’s final two games before the holiday break, Posset made her first two starts — both wins. She had a team-high 16 points in a 73-53 win over Pitt-Johnstown and 10 — her fifth double-digit performance — in a 64-63 win over Delaware State on Tuesday.
She also made a key defensive play down the stretch against Delaware State, tipping a pass that forced the Hornets to heave up an errant desperation attempt at the shot-clock buzzer. That gave the Colonials a final chance, and Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu delivered the winning layup.
Posset’s desire to honor Stamolamprou’s number added to her long-standing hope of being an important player for Colonials. She committed to the program during her sophomore year at Beaver and frequently attended games over the next two-plus years to, in Buscaglia’s words, “soak up the program.”
“We knew she really connected with us and was part of our culture,” he said. “For a freshman to come in and to be able to go out there and have not only a significant role but any role is rare. You have those special ones who come in, and they get things well and develop early.
“But no matter how good her skill set was, no matter how much we loved what she did in high school or AAU, she had to earn it when she came in here.”
Posset has earned her way with her ability to shoot — though she is still streaky at times — direct the offense and push the ball up the floor. She also has proven to be a solid defender, her lanky 5-foot-8 frame and good hand-eye coordination enabling her to disrupt passing lanes.
“I didn’t think I would be doing as well as I am right now,” said Posset, who earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors for her performance against UPJ. “I would give myself a ‘B.’ I still have so much to learn.”
Despite having a freshman- and sophomore-heavy team, Robert Morris (3-7) was picked to win the Northeast Conference. Posset said it is a reachable goal as long as the team takes nothing for granted.
“Even though they’re saying we’re No. 1, we don’t know what could happen,” she said. “We still have to push and play hard because it’s not going to be handed to us.”
And being No. 1 certainly would do right by the No. 4.
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at [email protected] or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.