|East Mississippi basketball teams begin 2008-09 campaign with three consecutive road outings|
SCOOBA, Miss. – Bidding to follow in the footsteps of the Lions’ successful football season, the East Mississippi men’s and women’s basketball teams tip off the 2008-09 campaign with a pair of non-divisional road outings this week.
With the Lady Lions and Lions coming off respective overall records of 11-13 and 11-14, EMCC opens the basketball season Monday at Jones County in Ellisville followed by a Thursday outing in Decatur against East Central. The East Mississippi clubs will then head to Raymond to take on Hinds next Monday (Nov. 10) before tipping off their home slate by playing host to Pearl River on Thursday, Nov. 13.
Having made the MACJC Playoffs last season for the first time in several years with a 6-6 mark and fourth-place finish in the North Division, fourth-year Lady Lion head coach Sharon Thompson returns six players, including three starters, from last year’s squad. Five of the team’s half-dozen returning players averaged 4.5 points per game or better in 2007-08.
“We’re excited about the season getting started this week because we’ve been going hard since school began in August,” Thompson said. “One area I’m most excited about this season is our offense. We struggled with scoring last year, but we should be able to put some points on the board this year with our up-tempo style.”
The Lady Lions’ improved offensive attack will again be directed by the playmaking talents of sophomore point guard Kottia White from Jackson’s Murrah High School. White is the team’s leading returning scorer at 10.2 points per game, along with having averaged 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 rebounds a year ago as a freshman. Sophomore wing players Sanitra Bush of Starkville and Javitia Eades from Kemper County High School averaged 7.3 and 6.5 points a game, respectively, for EMCC as freshmen. Eades and Bush also posted respective rebounding averages of 5.3 and 4.1 boards an outing. Expected to again provide rebounding and defense from the post positions, sophomores Jasmine Abrams of Columbus and Miari Franklin from Starkville rank as the club’s leading returning rebounders at 6.7 and 5.7 caroms per contest, respectively. Having missed the last four games last year due to injury, Abrams also tallied an average of 6.7 points per game.
“Kottia (White) should be one of the better point guards in our league with her ability to handle and distribute the basketball,” Thompson assessed. “We anticipate steady play from our veterans – Javitia (Eades), Sanitra (Bush), Jasmine (Abrams) and Miari (Franklin) – and I’ve been very pleased with the preseason play of our newcomers Angelique (Burtts) and Martika (Hull).”
In addition to welcoming back a solid corps of returning players, Thompson looks for immediate contributions from a pair of talented forwards. Sophomore Angelique Burtts is a 5-foot-11 transfer from Middle Tennessee State by way of Conyers, Ga., while fellow 5-foot-11 newcomer Martika Hull enjoyed a standout prep career at Meridian’s Southeast Lauderdale High School.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Mark White, the Lions return five players, including three starters, from last year’s team that finished fifth in the North Division with a 5-7 mark. Steady sophomore playmaker Cataurius Taylor from Memphis is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.3 points per outing. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound point guard also averaged 4.1 assists and shot 42 percent from three-point range a season ago. Fellow sophomore Woodie Howard (6-2, 185) of Starkville averaged 8.9 points last year and ranked as EMCC’s No. 2 rebounder at 5.7 boards per contest. Darian Donald (6-5, 185) of Columbus’ Caledonia High School contributed 6.6 points and 2.7 rebounds an outing for the Lions as a freshman.
“I am very pleased with the leadership qualities that our veterans have shown throughout workouts and conditioning as well as during our preseason games,” White stated. “Cataurius (Taylor), Coco (Ware), Woodie (Howard) and Darian (Donald) have been tremendous leaders and they’ve earned the right to be our captains.”
Like the Lady Lions, the East Mississippi men also look to rely on immediate production from a group of talented newcomers. Redshirt freshman Coco Ware (6-1, 165) of Starkville averaged 13 points an outing during the club’s 4-1 preseason slate, including a 20-point, eight-rebound effort in EMCC’s victory over Gadsden State of Alabama. Also on board for the Lions are former Wallace State-Hanceville transfer Larry Foster (6-3, 195) of York, Ala., and former Austin Peay State commitment Rob Elam (6-6, 215) from Atlanta by way of Nashville Christian Academy.
“I’m very happy with the 4-1 preseason record against some excellent competition,” White added. “I was most pleased with the way we were able to finish during four of our five preseason games. That’s a tribute to our hard work during the off-season and our increased confidence level as a team heading into this season.”
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 November 2008 )|
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