NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Friday, December 7, 2007
By Bethany Bradsher
C-USA champs host Yow, Lady
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It’s unlikely that any of the Lady Pirates will
forget their victory in the 2007 Conference USA Basketball Tournament
But maybe Sunday is the perfect time for a
high-profile reminder of what it felt like to hoist that trophy.
Prior to tip-off in their game against North
Carolina State on Sunday afternoon, the members of that women's championship
team will receive a banner commemorating their March victory.
The ceremony is just one compelling reason for
Pirate fans to make Saturday night’s East Carolina-N.C. State men's game
just the first part of a two-day doubleheader.
Another reason is the planned pregame ceremony
to honor Kay Yow, an East Carolina alumnus and longtime N.C. State head
basketball coach who has battled breast cancer for years. Yow has inspired
many in North Carolina and in college basketball circles across the country
with her courage and her work ethic even through debilitating cancer
“I think highly of her,” said ECU women’s head
coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener. “She has always been super nice, and I think
what she’s doing right now is pretty incredible.”
And after all of that worthy pomp and
circumstance, there will also be an actual basketball game between the 8-2
Lady Wolfpack and the 3-5 Lady Pirates squad. The last time ECU competed was
a 64-53 loss to Virginia Commonwealth that left them craving the chance to
make a more favorable impression, said junior Jasmine Young.
“I feel like this is definitely a big weekend
for us, because we’re coming off a loss,” said Young, who is leading her
team with 14.8 points per game. “We’re just pretty excited to be able to go
out there and try for a win.”
There was a time last month — the Lady Pirates
lost four of their first five games with several of the defeats coming to
small schools like High Point and Winthrop — when Baldwin-Tener might not
have been too excited to welcome an ACC opponent to town. But the last two
weeks have brought encouragement in the form of more victories and better
unity on the court.
“Early on I really was very disappointed, to
tell you the truth,” Baldwin-Tener said. “I didn’t think our juniors and
seniors were playing up to their abilities. I think early on we lost some
games that maybe now we wouldn’t lose. For the last three games we’ve showed
the right intensity.”
Part of the Lady Pirates’ adjustment has
involved learning to live without Cherie Mills in the post. Mills, who led
the team in scoring for the past two years, was the kind of player who could
seemingly produce points out of nowhere when the game was on the line. In
her absence, senior Nicole Days and sophomore Lauren Cochran have each
staked a claim under the basket.
The team’s four freshmen — Shaundra Ashford,
Tiahana Bowens, Kim Gay and Allison Spivey — are contributing more and more
as the weeks go by, Baldwin-Tener said. “I’m very encouraged by what the
freshmen can do,” she said.
Newcomers and veterans alike will need to show
up for more than just the pregame ceremonies on Sunday, Baldwin-Tener said,
especially because the Wolfpack has been ranked for much of the early part
of the season. Constituting a significant outside threat is 6-1 senior
Khadijah Whittington, who is leading all NCSU scorers with more than 19
points a game.
With such a challenge ahead, Young and her
teammates have been encouraged by considering history — by the flash of
the recent past that will be symbolized by that banner on Sunday. Last
year’s Pirate squad had a rocky start as well, Young said, and they
worked out the kinks in time for their slate of conference games.
Young’s one request? That their growing pains go
away faster this year, so that they can enter the C-USA competition with a
winning record and victories over some big schools under their belt. As
Young sees it, working together seamlessly to prevail against the Wolfpack
would be the perfect way to set the right tone for the remainder of the Lady
“We’re all great friends, but when we start
becoming great teammates we’ll be able to play with big people,” she said.
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12/07/2007 02:57:45 AM