11/13/11 — Lee: MOC 'looking to build on 2010-2011'

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Lee: MOC 'looking to build on 2010-2011'

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 13, 2011 1:52 AM

Don't dare mention the word "rebuilding" to Mount Olive College head women's basketball coach Wendy Lee these days.

She cringes at the very thought.

What about replacing lost pieces of the puzzle?

Lee rebuffs that idea, too.


How about a cookie-cutter roster and a collection of untested underclassmen vying to fill roles that used to be occupied by veterans as a description for the 2011-12 edition of the Trojan women?

That's better.

Or is it?

"I haven't capsulated what I really want to call this year," smiled Lee. "I don't label it a rebuilding year because I hope we're just building on what we've had. I just look at it as a new year with a lot of new players."

Nine fresh faces, to be exact, will be hard-pressed to fill spots vacated by the team's leading scorer, team's leading rebounder and two captains off a squad that posted 21 wins and reached the Conference Carolinas tournament final for the third time in the last four years.

Lee gets the first "live" look at her team in today's season opener at Newberry (S.C.) College. The Trojan women, who have just one player taller than 6-foot-0 on the roster, tip off their home campaign Wednesday against Virginia State.

MOC lost four pivotal starters to graduation.

"The team's identity, the bulk of what we've been about is gone," said Lee. "(This year) is like a carrot. You dangle it out there and say nothing is sure about who is starting. We can have young players starting as well as we can have upperclassmen.

"The new players are bringing a lot of energy because they do have to learn quickly."

And Lee is pleased thus far after evaluating the team during two inner-squad exhibitions and two scrimmages. The team has developed an unselfishness on the court and the returning forwards have emerged as catalysts to get the energy flowing in transition.

MOC returns 5-foot-8 junior guard Andrea Jones, an all-conference performer who averaged 14.7 points an outing last season. The Virginia native emerged the team's top scorer in 11 of 29 games, and has proven she can score from any spot on the court.

Junior Destinee Webb has showed promise at the point guard slot, while 6-foot junior forward Alyssa Luebs is back to help the crash the boards. Webb dished out 64 assists a year ago, while Luebs averaged four points and four boards a game. A Havelock High alum, Luebs grabbed 14 rebounds in last year's season-ending loss at archrival Barton.

Also back are sophomore guard Joneiqua Gary, junior forward Kirstin Mobley and sophomore guard Jasmine McDonald. The trio combined to average a double-double -- 10 points, 10 rebounds -- an outing a year ago. Charles B. Aycock senior Chantel Gaines is the team's lone senior, but she tore an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and her status has not been determined for the season.

The newcomers -- Tyshanudra Wallace, Matison Hall, Gabby Griffin, Kirksten Mitchell, Leah Graham, Ansia Dial, Tamara Nesmith, Khalia Boston and Shanice Pringle. Mitchell and Nesmith are JUCO transfers from Allegany (Md.) College.

Boston transferred from Livingstone.

"I like this group a lot and I'd say that our chemistry off the court is already there," said Lee. "We have to be 16 strong in whatever we're doing. Hopefully we won't have to learn the hard way through a loss, but from the experience of what we do in practice and on the court."