Women's basketball team begins practice Friday
UNCG opens the preseason with an afternoon practice on Friday. The Spartans will play Catawba in an exhibition on Nov. 3 at Fleming Gym and later open the regular season at home against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 12 at 2 pm.
UNCG head coach Lynne Agee returns for her 26th year with the Spartans and 29th overall on the collegiate sidelines. Agee owns a 539-245 career record and stands tied for the 16th most victories among active Division I women’s basketball coaches, while also compiling a 493-223 record at UNCG. With just seven victories this season, Agee will join an elite group of coaches that have won 500 games at one school. Also, 11 more victories would give her 550 for her illustrious career.
Associate head coach Carol Peschel returns for her 10th season in that role and her 23rd overall with the Spartans.
Jon Hines begins his third season at his alma mater and has been elevated to second assistant after Vickie Henson stepped down after four years with UNCG.
Former UNCG point guard Amanda Eaton returns as an assistant coach to round out the Spartan coaching staff in 2006-07.
Junior point guard Kristen Boone is a legitimate Player of the Year in the Southern Conference. She makes this team go and is an invaluable player to the Spartans. The Upper Marlboro, MD native earned first team All-SoCon honors last season after leading the team in scoring (12.8), while also leading the conference in assists (4.7), steals (3.9), free throws made (117) and free throws attempted (147).
The so called sophomore slump certainly did not apply to Boone as she recorded more than 100 steals for the second straight season, scored a career-high 25 points twice, set a school record in the Division I era with nine steals and had an amazing run of six straight games with at least six steals. In fact, she even sunk 20 straight free throws at one point during the season.
Boone shined on the brightest stages in her second season. After missing the first four games of the season with a hand injury, she scored 16 points, had six steals and five assists in her debut, a 72-70, win over West Virginia for UNCG’s first ever win over a team from the BIG EAST Conference. 11 days later, Boone struck for 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 70-64 win at Wake Forest for the Spartans first win over the Demon Deacons since 1977.
In the SoCon Tournament, Boone was named to the all-tournament first team after averaging 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in leading the second-seeded Spartans to the title game.
Senior Jasmine Byrd once again joins Boone in the starting backcourt. The Dumfries, VA, native has not missed a game in her career and has made 79 starts in her three years with the Spartans. She is a prolific three-point shooter that owns the school record for most attempted in a career and knocked down 49 3-pointers last year. Byrd has scored 778 points in her career and has a chance to become just the 21st player at UNCG to surpass the 1,000 point milestone.
Byrd was third on the team last year in scoring (8.4), steals (44) and assists (48). She also ranked sixth in the league with 1.6 3-pointers made per game.
Junior Kemena Brooks is expected to be the first guard off the bench for the Spartans after fitting into that role for the majority of last season. The Accokeek, MD, native appeared in 29 games last year and posted career-high totals in every statistical category, including points (7.1), rebounds (2.6), assists (28), steals (23) and 3-pointers made (22). She was even named the SoCon Player of the Week on February 14 after averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds that week.
A strong finish to last year, one that saw Brooks score in double figures in eight of the last 13 games, should give her great confidence as she enters her third year with the Spartans.
Sophomore Ashley Ling will once again be featured as the back up point guard behind Boone. Forced into the starting lineup the first six games of the year, Ling showed good poise for a freshman that appeared in all 30 games. The Centreville, VA native saw 11.3 minutes of game time and averaged 1.0 point, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
Two freshmen enter the fold in the backcourt this year in the likes of Sharniece Wadelington and Lakiah Hyson.
Wadelington played four years at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, SC, and becomes the first player from the state of South Carolina to ever play for head coach Lynne Agee. She was named the Greenville County Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year after averaging 16.7 points, four steals and three assists per game. Wadelington scored 33 points in the Class 3A state title game.
Hyson joins Boone and Brooks to become the third player from Gwynn Park High School on this year’s roster. An Accokeek, MD native, Hyson scored over 1,000 points during her four years for the Yellow Jackets and won two state titles when the aforementioned Boone and Brooks were still on the team. Hyson, who was named All-Met by the Washington Post, averaged 16.8 points in leading the team to a 22-4 record as a senior.
A pair of 5-10 seniors make up both starting forward positions for the Spartans. KaLeah Latham, who hails from Athens, TN, has started 40 games the past two years and has the rare opportunity to become just the fourth player since 1980 to lead UNCG in rebounding three straight years.
Latham was second on the team in scoring last year with 9.2 points per game, which went along with her team-leading 6.2 rebounds and .489 shooting percentage. She has a knack to get to the foul line as she appeared at the line 111 times last year and converted 73.0 percent of her opportunities, the 10th best mark in the SoCon. She also ranked ninth overall in rebounding.
Latham, who is one of only 10 players to post four career double-doubles at UNCG, was named to the SoCon All-Tournament team after averaging 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games down in Charleston, SC.
Rounding out the senior class is Irene Otamiri. The Lund, Sweden native started all 30 games last year and 40 the last two years. She posted career-highs in points (8.1), rebounds (4.6) and steals (49) during her junior season. Otamiri made a team-high 106 field goals and was 10th in the SoCon with a 44.9 percent shooting clip.
Otamiri came up big in the SoCon Tournament and was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts after averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She was at her best in the championship game against Chattanooga, scoring a career-high 20 points with four rebounds and three steals in a valiant effort against the Lady Mocs.
If either Latham or Otamiri hits a skid during the year, redshirt junior forward Brittany Frazier will be there to fill in. The Powell, TN, native, who transferred in from Walters State Community College last year, had her 2005-06 season cut short by a knee injury just five games into the season.
Frazier looked really good in the beginning of the season after averaging 9.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in the four full games she competed in. Frazier brings a good post presence at 6-0 and has a knack to haul in rebounds.
Junior Jasmine Dixon brings a wealth of experience off the bench for the Spartans having appeared in 57 games the past two years. The Reston, VA, native is one of the toughest low-post players in the SoCon, but has also has a nice range on her outside jumper.
Dixon averaged 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in only 13.0 minutes of action last year.
Sophomores Gini Grimsley and Ashley Mullins also return and will continue to add depth to an already deep ball club.
Grimsley, an explosive offensive talent that hails from Fairmont, NC, is expected to play a more prominent role with UNCG this year. She saw action in 29 games and made her first career start at Coastal Carolina. For the year, Grimsley averaged 4.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in a mere 8.3 minutes per game.
Grimsley’s talents were on display in her break-out game when she poured in 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting in a win over Wofford, which wound being the most points scored by a freshman at UNCG since Melinda Goodson in the 1996-97 season.
Mullins, who hails from Honaker, VA, appeared in 12 games last year and averaged 1.3 points per game. She actually made the first three 3-pointers she attempted in her career. In 2006-07, Mullins will work to see more court time in her second year with the program.
Meghan Chamberlain, the native of Lake Mary, FL, established herself as one of the top centers in the SoCon last year after being inserted into the starting lineup for the final 20 games of the season. Like many on last year’s club, Chamberlain established career highs in scoring (7.4), rebounds (5.3), blocks (35), assists (28) and steals (15). In addition, she ranked among the conference’s leaders in multiple categories - fifth in blocks (1.17), seventh in field goal percentage (47.6) and 15th in rebounding.
Chamberlain, who already ranks fourth all-time at UNCG with 56 career blocks, became the first UNCG player to post consecutive “double-doubles” in over three years when she had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Appalachian State and 14 points and 14 rebounds at College of Charleston.
Backing up at the center position this year is freshman Agne Girstautaite. The 6-4 native of Kaunas, Lithuania, comes to UNCG after playing one year at Holy Cross Regional Catholic School in Lynchburg, VA. She led the team to a 31-3 record and a state title after averaging nearly 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Gaels.
Prior to her time in the United States, she played for the Lithuania Under 20 national team and led them to a third place finish at the 2005 European Championships.
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