After spending so much time together on and off the court, many teammates call each other family. For women’s basketball players Gabby Green and Bree Alford, the word family is no exaggeration. Green, a redshirt senior guard from Oakland, and Alford, a redshirt senior forward from Walnut Creek, are stepsisters.
In 2009, Lisa Alford and Will Green met at their daughters’ local basketball tournament and started dating soon after.Following the tournament, however, Gabby and Bree knew only that the other one existed. Although their parents were dating, the children were not close and would see each other only when faced against the other in the occasional tournament.
Alford said that they did not know of their parents’ bond until long after that 2009 tournament.
“Yeah, we knew of each other, we played against each other, but we didn’t really know that our parents were dating until the end of high school, like junior or senior year,” she said
Green attended Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, California while Alford attended Miramonte High School in Orinda, California. Though their parents solidified their relationship during the children’s high school years, the girls led their lives separate from each other.
“We weren’t really close,” said Green. “We didn’t hang out so we were never together.”
The two did not immediately see each other as family, either.
“We didn’t really say that we were sisters at first,” said Green. “We were just kind of like ‘Oh, this is Bree,’ and ‘I’m Gabby.’”
Any possibility for the two to form a close bond seemed impossible, as the women went off to different universities after high school. Alford continued her basketball career at LMU while Green headed off to University of California, Berkeley (Cal) to do the same.
After Green’s sophomore year, however, she transferred to LMU.
There were multiple reasons for Green’s desire to transfer. “School-wise, I went to a small Catholic high school, so that [type of environment] was a better fit for me anyway,” Green said. “Cal was really overwhelming and just really a big shock. I was able to get away with a lot of stuff.”
As for why she chose LMU, Green’s family played a large role. “When I was first coming here, [Bree and I] weren’t really that close, so I just asked her a little bit, like ‘Hey, how do you like it?’” said Green. “She said she liked it and our parents already knew the coaches, so it was a pretty natural fit.”
It was after Green’s arrival that the two truly began to feel like sisters, spending time with each other on the court as well as, by choice, off the court.
“We started talking and being together once I transferred here,” said Green. “That’s when we got close.”
Since Green transferred, the pair have grown closer and even moved in together.
“We basically do everything together,” Green said.
The two have learned to appreciate how much it means to have a family member at their school and on their team.
“I have somebody that always has my back in a full family form,” said Green. “No matter what, we’re going to be together.”
The sisters also help each other when needed, offering one another life advice.
“She teaches me to be a little more patient and not so quick to just snap on people, and just to relax a little more,” said Green.
“She told me I need to be tougher,” said Alford. “That’s what she taught me. [Now] I’m more tough-skinned.”
Green’s arrival to the program had a significant impact on the team as well. “When she came here, she definitely played the game for everyone,” said Alford. “We never had a point guard like her. When she came out here, it brought more people into the game, and she got more people involved, which made everyone else step up.”
Green, who averaged 13 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.2 steals per game last season, was voted to the All-WCC Preseason women’s basketball team by the WCC coaches. Last season, she earned All-WCC First Team honors and won WCC Newcomer of the Year.
Green said she feels more comfortable playing for LMU, in part due to the change in her responsibilities on the court.
“I think I was struggling a lot [at Cal] because I wasn’t in the natural role that I usually am,” said Green. “In high school I played a big role, and coming back to being in a big role [at LMU] works well.”
Alford had a successful season herself, earning All-WCC Honorable Mention last season and averaging 7.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Both players have big individual expectations for this upcoming season as the team hopes to improve upon their strong 19-11 season last winter.
“I’m working on not just being a rebounder,” said Alford on her personal goals this year. “[I’m focusing on] being more aggressive on offense and actually being a scorer and not just the girl that rebounds.”
As for Green’s improvements, she said, “I don’t want to be super good at one thing and okay at [another] thing. I just want to be solid all around, from scoring to rebounds, to assists and steals.”
Like many sisters, the two will have the occasional disagreement—basketball related or not—but the two are not emotionally affected for very long.
“What’s good about our relationship is that if we do get mad at each other, it’s really quick,” said Alford. “We get mad, but we can’t really be mad at each other, because we’re also best friends.”
And these best friends are going to have to work hard to compete in a highly competitive and accomplished WCC
“This is a big year for us,” said Green. “We can definitely take over the WCC this season.”
If the Lions want to achieve that heavy task, they are going to have to start performing strongly right away. The team has some new players who will have to quickly fit in as well as returning players who will play larger roles this season.
“We just need to build more chemistry,” said Green. “This is a really exciting year, but [the team] has to start meshing kind of quick. I think that’s the hardest part right now for us.”
In their first regular season game against UCLA, Green proved to be the offensive leader for the Lions, scoring a game-high 25 points, including 15 in the third quarter, to go with seven rebounds and four assists. After struggling with her shot in the first half, she got to the basket repeatedly in the third for a series of layups and also made a three-pointer. Alford fouled out with 11.9 seconds remaining in the game, but not before scoring seven points to go with a team-high nine rebounds. Those seven points included a putback with less than two minutes remaining which extended the Lions’ lead to four.