Sept. 23, 2004
The Clemson women’s basketball program welcomes six new faces for the 2004-05 season. Over the last two years, the Lady Tigers have said goodbye to leading scorers and major offensive threats in Chrissy Floyd and Lakeia Stokes. This year’s squad will be much younger than in recent years, as just one senior and two returning starters are on the roster for the 2004-05 season.
Clemson reached postseason play in 2003-04, hosting an NIT matchup with UNC-Charlotte in March. However, Head Coach Jim Davis and the Lady Tigers aspire for much more this season. Davis signed a three-year extension on March 30 that will keep him in charge of the program through the 2007-08 season. The extension was an agreement between Davis and Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips, which shows the commitment to returning the women’s basketball program to the NCAA Tournament field.
“I hope to be the head coach at Clemson for a long time to come,” Davis explained following the contract negotiations. “Our objective is to get the program back to the point where we are contending for ACC and National Championships. I am extremely pleased Dr. Phillips has confidence in me and my staff.”
Phillips needed to look no further than Davis’ resume when making his decision. In his 17 years with the Lady Tiger program, Davis has guided his teams to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 16 postseason appearances overall. Davis has two ACC Tournament Championships under his belt and two ACC Coach-of-the-Year honors. He is the all-time winningest basketball coach (male or female) in Clemson history with a 347-177 career record.
Davis will be without the services of Lakeia Stokes this season, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2003-04. Stokes led the Lady Tigers with 17 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last year, and replacing her offensive productivity will be imperative for this year’s squad.
The bulk of the scoring this season could be done by committee. Several veterans have showed flashes of offensive ability, including a trio of juniors in Khaili Sanders, Julie Talley, and Amanda White. Sanders, a native of Atlanta, GA, is a 6-3 junior forward who will be counted on to lead the Tigers’ frontcourt effort.
“Khaili is as skilled as any post player to come through our program in recent years,” Davis said. “She has a great shooting touch from 17 to 18 feet and in. With her speed, she can create big problems for our opponents in a running game.”
Sanders had five double-digit scoring performances during the 2003-04 season, including the season finale against UNC-Charlotte when she was 5-11 with 13 points. Her best all-around performance last year may have been against Duke, when she tallied a season-high 15 points and also contributed with six rebounds and three blocks. Against Wake Forest, she recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-55 win. In two seasons, her career average is 6.1 points per game. She also has shown the ability to play defense down low, as she has 70 blocked shots in two years with the program.
Adding to Clemson’s formidable frontcourt is junior center and returning starter Amanda White, a native of nearby Fountain Inn, SC. White, who stands 6-4, averaged 6.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season for the Lady Tigers. She was an All-ACC Freshman selection in 2002-03, when she averaged 7.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Although her numbers decreased slightly last season, she is expected to make a big impact for the Lady Tigers this season in the middle.
“Amanda is a two-year starter and will anchor our inside game,” Davis said. “She has great technique and has shown flashes of solid post play. We are looking for a high level of consistency this season from Amanda.”
White scored in double figures five times during the 2003-04 season, including a season-best 15 in a win over Georgia Tech. Her career-high came in 2002-03 when she had 21 points versus Maryland. Over her two-year career, White has totaled 51 blocked shots and 385 points. Her play this season will determine much of how far the Lady Tigers can go this year.
Also returning in the post for Clemson this season is Lacey Shafer, a towering 6-5 center and lone senior of the group. Shafer improved her scoring average to 2.3 points per game last season, and she shot 48.3 percent from the field. In two starts early last season, Shafer scored 14 points and shot 7-7 from the field. Davis believes “she has an exceptional shooting touch, as good as any post player in the ACC. She will be a major contributor offensively because of her skills.”
Davis added two post players to the roster this season in true freshmen Adrianne Bradshaw and Moreemi Davis. Bradshaw, a 6-4 center from Greensboro, NC, should provide depth at center behind White and Shafer. “Adrianne has tremendous potential,” Davis believes. “A combination of size and athleticism, she could develop into a solid performer for this basketball team.”
Moreemi Davis, a 6-3 post player from Perry, GA, gives the team an athletic body inside to compliment Sanders and White. As a senior, she averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game at Perry High School. She was honored as the All-Middle Georgia Player-of-the-Year and was a two-time All-State selection.
“Moreemi could emerge into our best back-to-the-basket player,” Jim Davis commented. “She is the power player that we need to compete with the physical play in the ACC.”
The Lady Tigers are not as experienced at the small forward position, but two letterwinners do return for Davis’ squad. Carrie Whitehurst and Lauren Allen combined to see action in 47 contests last season for Clemson. Both will be expected to contribute on the offensive end and both must show improvement defensively.
Whitehurst, whose brother Charlie is the starting quarterback for the Clemson football team, played in all but one game a year ago as a true freshman. She averaged 4.1 points per game and shot 32 percent from 3-point range in her first season with the Lady Tiger program. She showed her potential offensively with three double-figure scoring performances, including a career-high 17 in just her fourth collegiate game against Western Carolina.
“Carrie had a good freshman year,” Davis said. “I think she only began to scratch the surface. She needs to develop consistency on the offensive end and play with more toughness on the defensive end.”
Lauren Allen has improved her work ethic since entering Clemson, and she is expected to be a major contributor in the success of the team this year. Allen played in 19 games a year ago, averaging 1.5 points per game in a reserve role. She set a career-high when she scored six points on two different occasions, versus East Tennessee State and Pittsburgh.
“I expect this to be a breakout year for Lauren,” Davis said. “She is a much more confident player and had some good moments for us last season. She is capable of scoring in the paint, or from 15 feet away.”
The coaching staff is excited about the addition of D’Lesha Lloyd, a freshman small forward from Columbia, SC. Lloyd averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists per game at Lower Richland High School. She was named to All-Region and All-State teams as a junior and senior. Lloyd is a wing player who will be counted on to fill a number of different roles for this year’s team.
“D’Lesha is the prototypical small forward at Clemson,” Davis explained. “We like our best athletes to play the small forward position. She is a combination of strength, speed, quickness, and she absolutely loves to play the game.”
The guard positions will feature some new faces this season. A familiar face for Clemson fans will be Julie Talley, a sophomore guard from Salem, SC who started 20 games last season. Talley, who averaged 7.6 points per game, led the team in 3-pointers made with 43 and a 37.7 percentage behind the arc. Her shooting will be an important asset to this year’s squad.
“Julie worked as hard in the off-season as any player we’ve had in recent years,” Davis commented. “She’s very determined to have a good year at the point guard position.” Talley ended the 2003-04 season on a positive note individually, as she hit four 3-pointers and totaled 14 points against UNC-Charlotte. Talley had some high moments early in the season, including a career-best 24-point effort against Youngstown State. She reached double figures in scoring in seven of the first 10 games last season. The coaching staff will be depending on her experience and offensive abilities this season as she runs the team.
In the mix for playing time in the backcourt will be a host of players, including 2003-04 red-shirt Maxienne White. She averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior at Pensacola High School two years ago, and Davis believes she is ready to take on a supporting role with this year’s team. At 6-1, she could provide rebounding help that Davis feels the team desperately needs this year.
“Maxienne is capable of playing either wing position,” Davis said. “She’s coming off a red-shirt year in our program and is familiar with our expectations for those positions.”
Also in the mix for significant playing time at guard is a pair of junior college transfers, Reggie Maddox and Tasha Phillips. A 5-9 combination guard, Maddox is expected to make an impact early on because of her quickness in the backcourt. She was the first women’s basketball All-American at Chipola Junior College in Florida.
“Reggie is a really fine combo guard,” Davis said. “She can play both positions. She is an exceptional athlete with great basketball savvy.”
Phillips is a 5-9 shooting guard who has spent the last two years at Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. She played in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship game twice, winning her freshman year. Phillips will be a frontrunner to replace Stokes at the shooting guard position. She made 86 shots from behind the 3-point line in her second season with the Gulf Coast program. Davis likes her ability to keep the opposing defense honest.
“Tasha Phillips will have an immediate impact on our basketball team at the shooting guard spot,” Davis said. “She comes to us from a junior college program that won a national championship and was runner-up last year. She knows what it takes to win. She’s not just a shooter; she’s a scorer.”
Freshman guard Tasha Taylor will also compete for playing time in the backcourt this season. A 5-9 point guard from Columbus, GA, Taylor led Carver High School to a 62-19 record during her three years with the varsity squad. She led Carver to a runner-up finish in its region in 2002.
“Tasha Taylor has exceptional speed and quickness,” Davis noted. “She comes from a very successful program at Carver High School in Columbus, GA. Her playing time will depend upon how well she adapts to the collegiate game.”
All in all, Davis’ squad has a healthy balance of height in the frontcourt with quickness and athleticism in the backcourt. Davis feels confident that this year’s team will be solid from the perimeter and inside offensively. One area he will try to focus on this year will be defense.
“We didn’t have the quickness or speed last year to defend like we wanted to,” he said. “With the players we have coming in on the perimeter, we have some very good athletes that will be able to play up-tempo offensively and also play the style of defense that we like to play.”
When asked what other objectives he would like to address this season, Davis mentioned rebounding without hesitation. Last season, the Lady Tigers were outrebounded by an average of 1.5 per game. Opponents totaled 462 offensive rebounds last year, compared to 387 for Clemson. Davis would like to flip that trend and see Clemson come out with a positive figure in terms of rebounding margin.
“We have to be a better rebounding team,” Davis stressed. “That’s been one of our most visible weaknesses in our program over the last couple of years. You’re only as good as your guards are at rebounding. Our guards have to be much more productive on the boards. We’ve got to be a better defensive team as well. I think we have a chance to improve in these areas because this year’s team will be much more athletic than what we have been recently.”
Despite the weaknesses he cited, Davis is excited about the upcoming season because of the new additions to the team and the renewed relationship between himself and Clemson University. If Clemson finds consistency in its post play and a scorer or two will step up, the Lady Tigers could find themselves in the mix right away this year.
The schedule presents a tall task for Clemson, however. An early-season West Coast swing features games at UCLA and San Diego. Also, the Lady Tigers return a trip to Rutgers this season. Clemson also will welcome the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech, both of whom were NCAA Tournament teams a year ago. Clemson aspires to be where both programs were just one year ago.
“We have to get back to the NCAA Tournament,” Davis said. “In order to do that, we’ve got to get better in our league. Our goal is obviously to win the ACC, but we want to be in the upper division of the league. We feel like that will get us into the NCAA Tournament, because of the strength of the conference. It’s going to be a very competitive league, especially with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech this year. We’re going to have to elevate our level of play.”
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