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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Lady Bucs meld together for hot start

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Sharon Baldwin-Tener
(Photo: ECU SID)


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Bailey: Lady Bucs meld together for hot start
BVL: Herd burns Bucs from long range
Batten: Georgia prep star eyes early action
Monroe: Quarterback key for 2010 offense
BVL: Hot shooting Pirates fall short
Gold: To resolve or not to resolve
O'Brien: Hartman connected for ECU
BVL: Pirates stave off North Carolina Central

Winning always masks the negatives in sports. East Carolina’s Lady Pirates committed 29 turnovers on Sunday but still beat Central Florida 73-62.

Despite the many mistakes, Sharon Baldwin-Tener’s team still found a way to win. This team is the early season buzz in Conference USA.

The Lady Pirates are unbeaten at home this season. Sunday’s win was the 14th of the year for this squad, against only two defeats.

Baldwin-Tener lost a pair of outstanding performers from a year ago in Jasmine Young and LaCoya Terry. Both were two-time MVP winners for the program.

The eighth-year coach had concerns for this year’s squad dating back to last year. The start of fall practice convinced her otherwise.

“Last spring I wasn’t real sure,” said Baldwin-Tener. “This fall, when we started practice, I knew that we had a chance to be the best team that we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s because of our depth and that we have so many weapons and so many players that can do different things.”

Baldwin-Tener opened the weekend by saying she would learn a lot about her squad hosting Southern Miss and UCF. With the two victories, the Pirates are 3-0 in league play, a half game ahead of both UAB and Houston. Those three teams are the only Conference USA unbeatens remaining.

Sophomore guard Ashley Clarke is the sparkplug of the offense. Clarke has that rare knack for knowing when to pass, and when to look for a shot. She put on a dazzling spin move for a basket late in the UCF game on Sunday that brought the house down.

Clarke is certainly unselfish. That’s this entire team’s mentality.

Junior Allison Spivey is just one of the Lady Pirates' threats from the outside.

“We could see it in preseason and open gym,” Spivey said. “Ashley does a great job in getting everyone involved. She really knows when to find the open shooter. We just click. We have great chemistry on and off the court. It’s just fun to play with this team.”

This Lady Pirate team is young, with just one senior. That means we will be seeing a lot of this cast over the next season and a half.

“They are really playing together,” added Baldwin-Tener. “It’s not about how many points they get or how many minutes they play. I think it makes a difference. People step up every game and hit big shots for us and make defensive stops for us. This is really a fun basketball team.”

That fun comes from a love and a bond that some teams simply never find. The squad is a tight-knit group.

“This team gets along better than any team I’ve ever had,” said Baldwin-Tener. “On and off the floor they get along great and it makes a difference. They have a good time playing together and we have a great time in practice, too.”

Spivey says the team has lofty goals. One of those goals is a return trip to the NCAA tournament in March.

“I think we can,” added Spivey. “That’s what we’re shooting for, a conference championship and to get back to the NCAA tournament. I think if we keep playing like we’re playing we’ve got a good shot at it. We just have to take it on the road.”

That will be the next challenge. Winning on the road in league play is always a difficult task, and will certainly test the mettle of any team.


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01/12/2010 02:22 AM


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