UNCG women's basketball team opens season Friday night at 7 pm
The 2005-06 season marks head coach Lynne Agee’s 25th campaign on the sidelines at UNC Greensboro and 28th overall in her brilliant coaching career.
Agee owns a 520-234 career mark, which is good for 18th on the Division I active wins list. She has compiled a staggering 474-211 record at UNCG alone.
The team returns a strong nucleus from last year, with all 10 players returning having played in at least 21 games a year ago, including three starters. Nearly 84 percent of UNCG’s scoring is back. However, the club remains fairly young with four sophomores, three freshmen and a junior transfer among Agee’s 14-player roster.
UNCG must replace two starters from last season. Amanda Eaton was the Spartans third-leading scorer last season and graduated as the program’s all-time leader in three-pointers made with 169 over her four-year career. The 5-6 guard averaged 8.0 points per one year ago. In addition, Stephanie Britt made 19 starts in the back-court and averaged 2.4 points and was third on the team with 49 steals.
Of the 10 returning letterwinners, the Spartans starting backcourt of junior Jasmine Byrd and sophomore Kristen Boone have been selected pre-season All-Southern Conference by the league’s 10 head coaches. UNCG is joined by pre-season favorite Chattanooga as the only schools with multiple players named to the 10-member team.
Byrd, a native of Dumfries, VA, led the Spartans in scoring last season at 10.6 points per game and was the only player to start all 28 games. She was among the conference leaders in multiple categories including 11th in scoring, third in free throw shooting at 81.8 percent , ninth in steals (2.3 spg), 14th in three-pointers made (1.32) per game and showed her durability by ranking 15th in the league in minutes played (27.6).
Boone, who hails from Upper Marlboro, MD, enjoyed a banner first season with UNCG that saw her become the first player in the program’s 35-year history to be named a conference Freshman of the Year. Boone led Division I women’s basketball with 121 steals and 4.32 steals per game during the 2004-05 season, which was the fifth most ever by a freshman in a single-season. In addition, she fell one steal shy of tying the SoCon record of 122.
Boone filled the box score up to the tune of 10.3 points, 4.3 steals, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. She was even better in conference play as she averaged an amazing 4.85 steals against the SoCon. Boone’s quick, slashing style got her to the free throw line 134 times. Not to be outdown, she capitalized at the charity stripe 76.1 (102-134) percent of the time.
Returning with Byrd and Boone in the backcourt are Shanika Jackson and Kemena Brooks.
Jackson, a 5-11 senior from Hampton, VA, appeared in 21 games off the bench last year. She averaged 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds in 7.4 minutes per game last year.
Brooks, a 5-8 sophomore from Accokeek, MD, was a high school teammate of Boone’s at Gwynn Park. Brooks saw action in 24 games off the bench and averaged 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per contest.
Freshman Ashley Ling enters into the backcourt mix and will be looked upon to provide depth at the point guard position behind Boone. Ling was a four-year letterwinner at Centreville HS in Clifton, VA. She led the Wildcats in assists and steals during her senior season and finished second in rebounding with 6.8 per outing. For her efforts she was named first team All-Concorde District.
UNCG has a nice mix of youth and experience in the frontcourt, as well. Seniors Caroline Blair and Ashley Current return, as do juniors KaLeah Latham and Irene Otamiri, along with sophomores Megan Chamberlain and Jasmine Dixon.
Blair, a product of Trinity, NC, started 27 games last year and averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest.
Current, a 6-1 forward from Orlando, FL, moved into the starting lineup for coach Agee nine times last year and appeared in all 28 games. She averaged 5.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, which were far and away career-highs in both categories.
Latham, a 5-10 forward from Athens, TN, missed a couple of games with a variety of injuries during her second season with the Spartans, but managed to start 17 games and appear in 26 contests overall. She led the club with 5.5 rebounds per game and tossed in 6.3 points per game.
Otamiri, a 5-10 swing player from Lund, Sweden, battled through some early season injuries, but made nine starts and saw action in 23 games. She averaged 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds for the season, but came on strong during the end of the year as she averaged 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds over the final five games.
Chamberlain, a 6-1 native of Lake Mary, FL, averaged 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 27 games last year. She made her first and only start of her freshman campaign at Appalachian State on December 18, 2004.
Dixon, who hails from Reston, VA, averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.1 minutes of playing time over 27 games. Dixon made two starts and enjoyed a breakout game when she scored 18 points in a 79-68 win over visiting UNC Wilmington on December 20.
UNCG has added three frontcourt players to the mix in 2005-06 in the likes of junior college transfer Brittany Frazier and freshmen Gini Grimsley and Ashley Mullins.
Frazier, a native of Powell, TN, played two seasons at Walters State Community College in Morristown, TN. She led the Senators to an eighth place finish in the NJCAA National Tournament last season with a program best 31-5 record. For her efforts she was named an honorable mention All-American after averaging 10.7 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game.
Grimsley hails from Fairmont, NC, and graduated as Fairmont High School’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,600 career points. She averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds during her senior season and led her club to the second round of the state playoffs. Grimsley was also Fairmont’s valedictorian with the top grade point average in her class.
Mullins arrives from Honaker, VA, and is the first female athlete from Honaker High School to play Division I basketball. A three-year varsity player, Mullins averaged 21.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals as a senior. She was named second team all-state and was the Player of the Year in both her district and region.
UNCG has been tabbed third in the SoCon preseason poll, which was voted upon by the 10 coaches in the league. However, the media selected the Spartans sixth. Chattanooga was the unanimous first-place selection in both polls.
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