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Seniors push Lady Braves to a solid final season
By Nick Phillips
A season of change is on the horizon for the UNCP women's basketball team, as six seniors closed out their collegiate careers at the conclusion of the 2010- 2011 season.
Our year went about like I thought. I thought we would be very competitive within the league, we would be involved in a lot of close games, and we'd have a chance to win a lot of games, and we did," head coach John Haskins said.
The Lady Braves finished 12-15 overall, but had several games go against them in the closing minutes.
"We were 1-5 in games that went down to the final 30 seconds for whatever reason," Haskins said.
"Whether we missed opportunities or other people capitalized off our missed opportunities," he continued.
"I don't think our record was as indicative of how good our team was," Haskins added.
On any given night in Peach Belt Conference play, the Lady Braves were up against a big test. The NCAA Division II Southeastern Regional Tournament is made up of the top eight teams from three leagues.
The PBC had five of the eight regional teams, while three of the final four regional teams were PBC foes.
On March 25, the great league play culminated with Clayton State winning the Division II National Championship.
The obvious signs that the PBC is a good league are there, while UNCP found itself stuck in the middle ground separating the contenders from the pretenders.
The Lady Braves finished the regular season and made the PBC Tournament as the fourth seed from the East division before being ousted by Lander in the opening round.
Goodbye old friends
Things will have a different look to them next season with the graduation of the six seniors, all cornerstones to the program in their own way.
At the top of the list is JaToya Kemp, who leaves campus as one of 19 members of UNCP's 1,000-point club, an honor she surpassed at home against Wingate on Nov. 17.
Kemp led the Lady Braves in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game, and in rebounding, averaging 6.5 boards per game.
Much of the Lady Braves' offense ran through Kemp and fellow senior Briana Stanton down low inside.
Stanton was right up there with Kemp in the statistical categories, averaging 10.1 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Outside, two different seniors lost time due to injury, with Illya Hunt going down with a knee injury against USC Aiken on Feb. 16 and Kristen Hobbs being bothered by an ankle injury over the final stretch as well.
Haskins commented on DayDay Ray's fire and intensity in practice and Talena Faison's ability to play outside or inside due to her strength.
"As a coach you miss those relationships with the kids," Haskins said about the six seniors leaving.
One thing the Lady Braves must change next season is their execution and consistency "Through the first twothirds of the season, we were not very consistent.
That's the main thing we want to bring into next year is to be consistent, both in practice and in games," Haskins said.
According to Haskins, the Lady Braves' losses stemmed from not doing enough right to win games late.
"We weren't far from being a 16-9 team versus a team that finished 12-15. Basketball is a fine line between winning and losing games," Haskins said.
Speaking of consistency, Haskins would like to see sophomores Courtney Bolton and Anya Knower become mainstays inside just like their departing predecessors did, "Obviously Anya and Courtney will be stepping into bigger roles, where they were secondary last year," Haskins said.
Haskins also hinted at a new offensive scheme for next year. The current game plan call has post players set up inside, whereas the new style offense may spread the floor and allow rising seniors Domonique Washington and DeDe Cotten a chance to have more freedom with the ball.
"I think we know what we want to do, but it'll take getting the team together in the fall to really see what we're going to do," Haskins said.
Whatever happens, Haskins and the Lady Braves know that they have huge holes to fill, while looking to play better overall.