Women's Hoops Holds First Official Practice
Oct. 4, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team, led by first-year head coach Heather Macy, officially opened preparations for the 2010-11 season Monday night with a three-hour workout at Minges Coliseum.
"We really got after it today during the first day of practice," Macy said. "I thought the kids stayed intense all the way from the first drill to the last and that is the kind of focus we will need late in the season."
The Pirates return all five starters from a 2009-10 squad that produced a 23-11 record and reached the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament - as well as the second round of the WNIT. Junior Ashley Clarke was named to the All-C-USA Second and All-Defensive Teams while pacing ECU in scoring, assists and steals. She led the league in assists per game and ranked 24th nationally.
Also returning for the Pirates are seniors Kim Gay and Allison Spivey. Gay was selected as the 2009-10 ECU MVP as she was tops on the squad in rebounding, free throw percentage and third in scoring. The forward had a career day at Memphis Feb. 27, setting career highs in points (26), rebounds (12) and three-point field goals made (four). She scored in double figures 16 times while leading East Carolina in rebounding 13 times. Meanwhile, Spivey started all 34 contests and ended up first on the team in three-point field goals and three-point field goal percentage. She also set the ECU single-season record with 63 three-pointers and helped the Pirates rank 12th in the nation in three-point percentage.
East Carolina should get a boost with the comeback of junior guard Crystal Wilson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second half of the road contest at SMU Jan. 23. Before her setback, she was scoring 9.6 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field, 43 percent from beyond the arc and 75 percent at the free throw line. Wilson had also grabbed 70 rebounds and 37 steals.
Other upperclassman returnees include senior guard Kelly Smith and junior forward Chareya Smith. The former racked up 56 three-point field goals, the fourth-most in a single season in program history, and was fifth on the team in scoring. Chareya Smith, named the squad's most improved player at the end of the season awards banquet, played in all 34 contests and made 12 starts. She matched Wilson's field goal percentage mark and scored in double figures 10 times. The junior was also instrumental in the road victory at Drexel in the first round of the WNIT, scoring a career-high 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor to go along with seven rebounds.
A strong sophomore class, which features four guards and a forward, will complement the upperclassman core as it received valuable game experience as last season wore on. Guard Celeste Stewart was awarded playing time in every game and made two starts. She was the top-scoring rookie for ECU with an average of 3.9 points per contest and was third on the squad with 52 assists against 38 turnovers. Additionally, guard Shala Hodges scored a career-best 17 points to lead the Pirates to a 102-64 win over Southern Miss in the first round of the C-USA Tournament as East Carolina broke the single-game tourney scoring record. Forward Ariana Jackson and guard Elaine Morgan will also provide valuable minutes as they combined to play 542 last season.
A pair of talented freshmen, Alana Beroth and Katie Paschal, join the ranks to round out the roster as both were participants in the 2010 North Carolina East-West All-Star Game. Paschal also ended her prep career as the second-leading scorer in North Carolina high school history, dropping in 3,160 points.
The Pirates will open the 2010-11 campaign Nov. 12 when they battle American University at Minges Coliseum.