Trojans seeking chemistry
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 12, 2010 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- With several questions left unanswered in the preseason, the Mount Olive College women's basketball team will begin playing meaningful games on Saturday.
The Trojans open play at in-state rival Chowan University and head coach Wendy Lee is anxious to see how her team responds to live action without a trio of key players, who are out with injuries.
"We have three seniors that are out with injuries and that is tough," said Lee. "Hopefully we can mature quickly, and then get two of them back and worked into the rotation."
Starting point guard Shequanta McGee was injured in a freak accident in September and is still recovering. Forward Rashonda Speed is battling an illness and center Jazman Ramsey will miss a majority of the season following knee surgery.
McGee emerged as the leader of the Trojans' first unit last season. The Weldon High School alum chipped in 11 points, four assists and three rebounds per contest and was one of the teams' most consistent performers.
Her spot in the rotation will likely be filled by sophomore Destiny Webb or junior college transfer Paquita Wingate.
"I think Destiny is a little bit ahead in that race right now because she has been here two years," said Lee. "Paquita is going to be a good player for us, but she has only been with the team for a couple months so she is still learning."
Laporsha Davis will start at the shooting guard spot and can play point guard in a pinch. Davis averaged nine points and five rebounds per game in 2009-10.
The frontcourt will be an experienced group with returners Brittany Miller, Andrea Jones and Alyssa Luebs. Talented forward Jasmine Whitby also returns to the team after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Whitby scored a team-high 18 points in the Trojans' final preseason tune-up against East Carolina.
"I thought for the first 10 minutes we played really well as a team," said Lee. "But we got in some foul trouble and that is something that we can't afford to do. I thought that Jasmine played an excellent second half and Brittany Miller was good all around."
Looking forward to the opening game, Lee pointed out the team's offensive continuity as the key to playing well early in the season.
"The first few games of the year I really want us to come together as a unit offensively," said Lee. "Obviously, we need to play strong on the defensive end of the floor, but on offense I think we have to develop better chemistry."
The learning process will have to happen quickly. Mount Olive has just two non-conference games before opening Conference Carolinas play at home Nov. 23 against Converse (S.C.). Seven days later, the Trojans visit archrival Barton, the reigning regular-season league champion.
Lee expects the competition to be increasingly stiff within the conference.
"I think that the conference is even deeper this season because a lot of teams made nice additions in the offseason," said Lee. "I think that there are seven or eight teams that could potentially compete in the league this year."
Mount Olive finished 2009-10 with a 16-12 record. The Trojans were selected as the second-best squad in Conference Carolinas in the annual coaches poll.