12/10/04 — Graduate glance

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Graduate glance

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on December 10, 2004 1:55 PM

GREENVILLE -- In her third year as head coach of the East Carolina women's basketball team, Sharon Baldwin-Tener has raised her expecations of the team and senior center Shanita Sutton.

Sutton, a graduate of Eastern Wayne, has started in all seven games this season for the Pirates (2-5) and is playing in 10 more minutes per game than her junior year. Her offseason conditioning has obviously payed off as the six-foot center has dropped nearly 50 pounds and added muscle since the end of her sophomore season.

"I think she is one of the most improved players we have had here," Baldwin-Tener said. "She lost weight and now is so strong and much more conditioned. She's able to play more minutes and be more effective. She's expected to do a couple more things for us."

What she's doing is averaging 10 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game, mostly going up against players several inches taller than her at the five spot. In a Nov. 27 loss to Cal State Fullerton, she had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds on her way to being named to the all-tournament team at the LAX Turkey Shootout in Malibu, Calif.

Sutton also has a team-high five blocks on the season.

She grew accustomed to playing forward as a junior, when then senior center Courtney Willis logged most of the minutes at the five. Sutton believes that experience developed her versatility.

"The only way to play was to fill in beside her and play the four spot," Sutton said. "I adapted to that, so now i can play the four and the five. That has helped my game out a whole lot."

Both Sutton and her coach believe the Pirates have shown promise in the early season, but neither are satisfied with the 2-5 start.

After defeating Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the Lady Pirate Invitational last weekend, East Carolina then lost to nationally ranked Baylor, 80-59 in the finals.

"I was overall pleased with last weekend, but we struggled the four games before that on the road," Baldwin-Tener said. "We've got to be able to score more than 54 points per game in order to win. Our defense is doing well, but we are going to need a little bit more from everybody."

Sutton, an exercise and sports science major, believes the team needs to react to the slump quickly.

"We have to figure out what we need to do to get better and play as a team," Sutton said. "It's not coming easy, but we've got to figure it out fast. The five seniors ... we have to come out and play every game."

ECU entertains Wake Forest at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Warren, Davis win awards at UNC

CHAPEL HILL -- Southern Wayne graduates Greg Warren and Tommy Davis were honored with awards at the 2004 UNC football banquet on Dec. 5.

Warren (6-foot-3, 247 pounds), a fifth-year senior deep-snapper, won the Athletic Director's Scholar Athlete Award and the James Southerland Award given to team captains.

Warren joined the team as a walk-on in 2000 and has handled all the long-snapping duties since 2001.

Davis (6-2, 257) got the Andy Bershak Award for the most outstanding Defensive End. The junior finished the regular season with 40 tackles (20 solo, 20 assists) with six tackles for losses and one sack.

The Tar Heels (6-5, 3-3 ACC) finished tied for third in the league standings and will face future ACC opponent Boston College in the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 30.

Bryant wins offensive lineman award

ELIZABETH CITY -- Elizabeth City State sophomore offensive lineman and Goldsboro graduate Ronnie McClary won his team's offensive lineman of the year award following the season.

McClary started the season at center but moved to guard, then finished the season at tackle when a pair of Viking linemen went down with injuries.

"He filled three positions for us. If you can do that, that tells you something about your ability," ECSU offensive line coach Elvin James said. "His skills were always there, but they've enhanced now. He's a leader and sets an example for other guys to follow."

McClary (6-4, 320) started all 10 games and was part of an offensive line with a Goldsboro High flavor. All former Cougars, Raphael McNair (6-7, 350) started at right tackle, while Cameron Bryant started five games at right guard.

Stanley Bryant (6-6, 225) saw a lot of action, starting at tight end.

Two other former Cougars, Terrel Bunch and Jimmy Stevens, also were on the ECSU roster this season. Stevens, a defensive tackle, got in every game, while Bunch suffered an injury early in the season playing fullback.