JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (November 12, 2003) - East Tennessee State's women's basketball program held its annual media day on Wednesday. Players and coaches gathered before their practice in Memorial Center to visit with local media in anticipation of this upcoming season. Among the biggest topics discussed was the absence of senior guard Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.).
Verdell, one of the Lady Bucs top returning players and a preseason All-Southern Conference selection, underwent minor knee surgery earlier this week and is expected to be out of the lineup for the teams first few regular season games.
"Prior to Kiya going down, I was extremely excited about what I thought this team could do," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp, who enters her 10th season at the helm of the Lady Bucs. "A lot of it is going to depend on how quickly she can get back to where she was. The news yesterday was good after her surgery. She's expected to be back by our conference opener (against Furman) on December 1, which is only our second game of the season."
When the Lady Bucs hit the floor for their season opener at Temple on Nov. 28, Kemp knows that she will likely have a young lineup if Verdell is still sidelined due to injury. However, the head coach knows she can count on senior forward Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.) to carry a bulk of the load. Trantham also earned a spot on the preseason all-conference squad for the second straight year after averaging a double-double (11.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game) throughout the 2002-03 season.
"We've had a couple of young ladies step up," said Kemp, "but Lauren Trantham is on a mission every night out on the floor. Lauren brings leadership by her actions. She's going to be called upon to give us a little more scoring than she has in the past, and I think she's ready for that call."
The Lady Bucs, who finished last season with an overall record of 9-19 and 6-12 in league play, will get the opportunity to face-off against an opponent for the first time Thursday night, when ETSU hosts Lees-McRae in the team's first exhibition game of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Brooks Gym. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 per child.