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Lady Blazers have new talent, same expectations

  The defending Gulf South Conference East Division champion VSU Lady Blazers are ready for the start of the 2010 season. The ladies will tip-off their season on Saturday night when Edward Waters visits the Complex. 
There are a lot of question marks surrounding the team. Head Coach Kiley Hill has been put in a tough spot due to numerous injuries throughout the offseason. 

 “Right now, we are going through a rash of injuries. Our post play is diminished, massively,” Hill said. “So we got a bunch of kids playing ‘tweener’ positions; we got 3’s playing 4’s, we got 4’s playing 5’s, so it could be very interesting. We’ll be playing small ball here early.”

 In addition to injuries, the Lady Blazers are going into the season trying to fill the losses of seven players from last year’s team. The team lost 59 percent of their scoring from last season, with the loss of seniors Michelle Thompson, Leschelle Matthews and Tamika Booker. With the loss of the Big Three, the Lady Blazers will depend on the eight newcomers to make an immediate impact.

 Sczeny Hartry, a junior and one of the top returning scorers from last season, sees one girl in particular that should make an immediate impact for the Lady Blazers.

 “Our new point guard from Africa, she transferred from a school in Kansas,” Hartry said. “Her name is Vaneza (Junior). She dishes the ball very well and she gets to the basket whenever she wants to.”

 Junior is a five-foot-eight-inch junior point guard originally from Maputo, Mozambique, but she comes to VSU by way of Seward County CC in Kansas. She is a player to watch as the season begins.

 Junior and Western Carolina transfer, Brittany Ferguson, were both named top newcomers in the Gulf South Conference East earlier this pre-season, as both are expected to make considerable contributions to the team this season.

 Despite the departures from last season, the Lady Blazers are in a familiar position as they were selected by the coaches in the Gulf South Conference to win the Eastern division. One would think there would be pressure coming in as a favorite in the East with so many new players, but Hill sees it differently,

 “I think there’s always pressure, but more of it is put upon by our kids individually because we have so many kids who come from very solid programs and know what it takes to win,” Hill said.  “Basketball in college is a marathon, it is not a sprint.  So the longer we’re going to be able to stretch things out and understand what people do and what our strengths are, the better off we’re going to be. And our new kids, by late September, will be in a better situation and on the same page as our returners.”

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