Women's hoops hits the road to open 2004-2005 season
Women's hoops hits the road to open 2004-2005 season
Thursday, November 18, 2004

(Nov. 18, 2004) -  The ETSU women's basketball squad will travel to Tennessee Tech tomorrow for the first of two games during this season opening weekend.  Facing the Eagles tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. (cst.), and traveling to Nashville on Saturday to face Tennessee State at 7:00 p.m. (cst.) for the first time in nine seasons, will prove for a competitive and exciting weekend of Lady Bucs basketball. 


Bringing back a core group of veteran players, as well as the leadership of the Lady Bucs head coach Karen Kemp, women's basketball at ETSU looks to reach new levels in 2004-2005.  Also returning for ETSU will be second-year assistant coaches Rodney English and Kim Dowell, while Kemp welcomes assistant coach Chad Hagy and Lady Bucs alumni Kiya Verdell as the Graduate Manager this season.  Kemp and her staff are very excited for the season ahead:


"Our team is very excited about the upcoming season.  We look to build on our record breaking conference season from a year ago.  Returning two all-conference performers in Mayes and Wilhoit, we will count on them to lead this young squad throughout the season.  The work ethic and experience of the veterans has been contagious to the six newcomers to this year's team and will surely propel our success for the future," Kemp said.  




It has been said that successful teams are made from successful leaders; such is true with the 2004-2005 Lady Bucs senior class.  Forward Tiffani Mayes (Sumter, S.C.) and guard Jennifer West (Sylvania, Ala.) will lead the group of seven returning letterwinners focused on the Southern Conference Championship this year. 


Mayes, a 2003-2004 All-Southern Conference First Team member, will be a dominant player on the court for the Lady Bucs.  Having a career year in '03-'04, Mayes averaged 16.1 ppg, lead the team in field goals made (168) and free throws made (99).  Also averaging 9.1 rpg with a total tally of 246 for the year, Mayes ranked second on the team in minutes played with 872.  Mayes was among the conference leaders in numerous offensive and defensive categories for the year, including leading the league in rebounds per game (9.1) and offensive rebounds per game (3.44), while taking second in scoring (16.1) and defensive rebounds per game (5.67).  Mayes' experience and leadership will be something to watch in '04-'05.


"After a great season last year, this young team will look to Tiffani for leadership both on and off the court.  Such an exciting player to watch, we look for Tiffani to once again be one of the most dominant players in the Southern Conference," Kemp had to say.


West made 14 appearances in her first season for the Lady Bucs last year.  West shot 2-4 from three-point range while going a perfect 2-2 from the free throw line.  A transfer from Shelton State Community College prior to the '03-'04 season, West brings a dominant outside shooting ability to the court for ETSU. 




This year's junior class includes two athletes that will have a major impact on the court for the Bucs. Guard B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) and forward Candace Gibson (Warner Robbins, Ga.) will be looked upon for their leadership and playing ability on the court during the upcoming season.


"B.J. and Candace bring much needed experience to a young squad this season.  As veterans, the young core of our team will look to them for motivation and leadership," Kemp said.  "B.J.'s experience at the point guard position will help the newcomers make smooth transitions from high school to collegiate competition.  Candace's physical presence underneath the basket will take pressure off other areas on the court for us this year."


In 27 appearances, including 22 starts, in '03-'04, Banjo had a breakout year averaging 6.9 ppg, posting 55 assists while averaging 34 percent from beyond the arc.  Able to play many roles for the Lady Bucs squad, Banjo will bring experience, speed and a heightened knowledge of play to the floor.


Not only a rebounding year in '03-'04 for the Bucs, but also for junior Candace Gibson.  After receiving a medical redshirt during the 2002-2003 season, Gibson got back on track last year making 26 appearances for the Lady Bucs.  With her 3.3 ppg, including an eight-point effort in the ETSU come-from-behind victory at Appalachian State in February, Gibson's confidence level will be at its highest entering this season.




The sophomore class for the Lady Bucs holds three players who managed solid numbers and dominant efforts during their freshman campaigns.  Guards Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.), Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) and Holly Moring (Irmo, S.C.) make up the '04-'05 sophomore class.


Wilhoit posted one of the most dominant performances by a freshman in Lady Bucs history.  A member of the All-Southern Conference Freshman Team, Wilhoit was one of two Bucs to start every game last year while capping off her freshman campaign with 6.7 ppg, leading the team in minutes played (914), assists (105) and second in steals with 49.  Among the league's best point guards, Wilhoit also finished fourth in conference standings with 3.89 assists per contest in '03-'04.  The first Lady Bucs player to be named to the league's All-Freshman squad since 2002, watch for Wilhoit to have a breakout year in '04-'05. 


When asked about Wilhoit, Kemp said, "Brooke is the hardest-working player I've coached throughout my career.  After a standout freshman season I only expect Brooke's abilities and knowledge of the game to improve this season and throughout her tenure at ETSU."


Ricciardi saw action last season in 26 contests averaging 7.2 minutes on the floor per game for the Bucs.  Shooting 40 percent, Ricciardi tallied 25 total rebounds, 10 assists and nine steals during her rookie season.


Making two starts and 27 appearances last season, Moring averaged 3.3 ppg, shooting just under 40 percent for the year.  Another Lady Buc with ability to shoot from behind the three-point line, her 17 three-pointers (31 percent) was among the best on the Lady Bucs squad a year ago.


"After seeing significant action during their freshman campaigns, we look for Anna Marie and Holly to continue to play contributing roles on the floor this season.  With such a large incoming class of true freshmen, their experience will be key to our success," Kemp said.






Returning seven letterwinners from last year's squad, head coach Kemp will welcome six newcomers to the court for the Lady Bucs this year.  Guards Alisha Holmes (Orangeburg, S.C.), Michelle DeVault (Columbus, Ohio), Nichelle Akers (Sumter, S.C.) and Kelly Turman (Atlanta, Ga.) will be joined by forwards Angela Estes (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) to complete the 2004-2005 Lady Bucs basketball squad.


Turman will join the '04-'05 squad from Atlanta, Georgia where, at George Washington Carver High School, she became the first female to be a member of the coveted 1,000 point club.  Her 26.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.6 apg and 2.1 spg led her to an All-State second team nod and a spot on the Lady Bucs roster.  Also joining the ranks from Georgia will be Norman who, during her senior campaign, was named to the All-County team, posting the team's top rebounding performance at Starrs Mill High School.


Named the Ohio Capital Conference player of the year during her senior campaign, DeVault averaged 18 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.0 spg during her final year at Upper Arlington High School in Columbus, Ohio.  The school record holder for points in a season (427) and career points (1,122), DeVault will bring a strong offensive presence to the floor for the Bucs.  Also from Ohio is Angela Estes who competed on the state championship team during her senior campaign for coach Scott Rogers at Mt. Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati.  The school record holder for most rebounds in a game as well as blocked shots in a season, Estes will aid the defensive efforts in '04-'05.


Rounding out the Lady Bucs roster will be two South Carolina athletes who will each see time at the guard position this season.  From Crestwood High School in Sumter, Nichelle Akers averaged 10.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg during her senior campaign while capturing the school record for most career points with 1,241.  A four-year All-Area and All-Region honoree as well as a two-year All-State team member, Akers will bring experience and knowledge to the court for the Lady Bucs.  Holmes, a four-year letterwinner at Orangeburg Wilkinson High School in Orangeburg, will see the majority of her time this season at the guard position.  Team captain her final three years of high school, Holmes will bring a solid basketball background to the ETSU lineup. 


"I am extremely excited about this year's incoming class.  One of the best recruiting classes in recent years, I expect all six freshmen to make an immediate impact on the court as they all bring size, quickness and a strong awareness of the game," Kemp said when asked about her incoming class.  "With all of our newcomers coming from winning programs, we expect that same approach to the game as they make the transition into a Lady Bucs uniform.  Making up nearly half of our squad, the newcomers will make for an exciting competitive year, as well as building a solid foundation for years to come."


The Lady Bucs game versus Tennessee State will also be broadcast on the Buccaneer Sports Network with Don Helman calling play by play for the Bucs, visit ETSUBucs.com to connect to the live broadcast.  ETSU will return home Monday Nov. 22nd when they host Tusculum College in a game starting at 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Center.