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Seniors to Lead Basketall

Seniors to Lead Basketball

By Cody Parker, Sports EditorPhoto by Stefanie Smith

The UNCP women’s basketball team is coming off a 9-17 season with a 5-14 conference record, but will return this season with more experience.

The Lady Braves played its six freshmen heavy minutes, partly due to some injuries.

“Freshmen got a lot of experience, and they should be able to step in…and understand what we are doing a little bit better,” said Head Coach John Haskins.

Two freshmen played over 20 minutes a game last season. Jasmine Huntley played 24.6 minutes per game, and Katelyn Mitchell played 25.7 minutes per game.

Huntley averaged 7.4 points per game and was third on the team with 47 assists.

Mitchell averaged 5.9 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Other freshmen who played significant minutes were Phoenicia Lawson, Ashley McCray, Jonissa Monley and Airico Williams.

“We are trying to go a little more motion offense. A little bit more freedom to play,” said Haskins of a somewhat different offensive philosophy this season.

Haskins said the new offense will rely less on running sets each possession and more on reading cuts and screens.

New freshmen coming in this season are Nadine Ealey and Ebon’e Stevens with Ashlyn Jones and Dee Perdue joining the team after redshirting as freshmen last year.

Also joining the team are junior college transfers Crystal Hicks and Mary Robinson.

“I think it’s an adjustment whether you’re a high school or junior college kid, in that you played for one coach that does things one way that it’s still basketball, but everybody does things a different way and the terminology is different,” said Haskins of acclimating the players.

The team allowed 66.7 points per game last season, and defense is something coach Haskins said needs to improve this season. 

He said that playing freshmen so many minutes last season because there are adjustments they have to make to the college game.

They have worked on improving it this offseason just by running the team through drills and situations in practice so certain things become habit on that end of the court.

“Repetition is the mother of skill,” Haskins said.

The team will have four seniors this season in Jazmine Kemp, Kierra Haney, Avae’ Hardy and Kamille Horne.

These four were the four leading scorers on the team last season.

Kemp scored 325 points, Haney scored 291, Horne scored 205 and Hardy scored 154.

Kemp and Haney were the only players on the team to average double-digit scoring last season. Kemp averaged 13 points per game, and Haney averaged 11.2.

Haney pretty much averaged a double-double last season as she averaged 9.9 rebounds per game.

Haskins said Haney has spent time getting stronger this offseason, and he has coached her on being more patient, especially around the basket.

The team turned the ball over four more times per game than their opponents last season.

Playing a freshman pretty heavy minutes factored into this as well as having Hardy play point guard a lot as opposed to using her as a two-guard.

This wasn’t planned, but was necessary when Chandrica Fuller went down with a serious knee injury in the opening game last season. The team doesn’t have a timetable for her return. She started 27 games as a freshman.

Coach Haskins said he would like to see more consistency out of the team this season from game to game. He said his expectations this year are to be a very competitive team and to go into each game with a chance to win if they play well.

The team opens their season on Nov. 19 at Fayetteville State and has their first home game on Nov. 25 against Livingstone with tip off set for 6 p.m.

Photo by Stefanie Smith. The women's basketball team sits on the bench as they watch the festivities during moonlight madness.