12/11/09 — Trojans still seek team identity

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Trojans still seek team identity

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on December 11, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A blessing or a curse.

Mount Olive College women's basketball coach Wendy Lee considers the team's two-week layoff as a blessing, and given her the opportunity to refine the Trojans' rotation.

"I think we needed this time to work with some of our younger players and to see who is going to be able to give us minutes as the season progresses," Lee said after a recent practice. "We have quite a few players that have logged very few minutes until this year so the practice has helped us learn where they fit in."

The Trojans (1-3 overall) have yet to solidify a substitution pattern.

The task became more difficult when returning starter Jasmine Whitby suffered a knee injury before regular-season play began. The senior transfer underwent surgery and a timetable has not been determined for her return.

Whitby could miss the rest of the season.

"Jasmine had some pretty extensive damage in her knee so her surgery wasn't a simple clean-up job," said Lee. "She has another appointment next week so maybe we will know something after that, but it doesn't sound too promising."

With Whitby out of action, more responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of returning starters Brittany Miller, Helen Moore and Shequanta McGee. The trio is averaging a combined 33 points a game. However, the remaining two starting positions account for just five points per outing.

Mount Olive, as a team, is knocking down 63 points a game compared to 64 for the opposition. Opposing teams have also controlled the boards and have a plus-nine advantage against Lee's team.

"We have some girls on this team that have almost no game experience, so we are still learning what they do well and how they can help us get better," said Lee. "Players like Monye Fauntleroy and Desha Pickett have seen some JV time, but they are still adjusting to the pace of the college game."

The Trojans' learning curve continues Saturday at Conference Carolinas rival Limestone (S.C.) College. It's the fourth of five consecutive road games for MOC, which visits Catawba on Dec. 18 before returning home for a Dec. 29 contest against St. Augustine's.

"I think having to play so many games on the road sort of magnifies the team's inexperience," said Lee. "When you play at home there is a level of comfortability that you don't get on the road. Almost every team seems to play better on their home floor."

After a month of travel that will cover 1,218 total miles, Mount Olive should be stronger for the stretch run of league contests as it attempts to win 20 games for the third straight season.