July 21, 2003
With the University's graduation in May, the Minutewoman basketball team saw 89 percent of its scoring from a year ago leave as well. In her second season at the helm, Head Coach Marnie Dacko and her staff has begun the rebuilding process to put UMass back in the NCAA Tournament. The 2003-04 team will rely heavily on the junior backcourt of Katie Nelson, back from her ACL injury, and Monique Govan, as the front court will be comprised of mainly newcomers. Dacko has added a mix of freshmen and junior college transfers to complement her seasoned backcourt.
Prior to injuring her knee Jan. 26, 2003, at Dayton, junior point guard Katie Nelson had started in each of her 48 career games since arriving in Amherst. She averaged 37.1 minutes last year and was the only member of either team to play in all 50 minutes of the Minutewomen's 78-70 double-overtime loss to Florida in the State Farm Classic, Dec. 28, 2002. Nelson, whose father, William, is the head men's basketball coach at Johns Hopkins (Md.) University, has already cracked the top five in three-point field goals made and attempted. Nelson currently ranks third all-time in school history with 296 attempts, while her 91 trifectas are good for fourth. Nelson also ranks 10th with a .307 percentage from behind the arc.
Lots Of New Faces:
There will be several new faces when the Minutewomen first step on the floor Nov. 21 in the season-opener at Sacred Heart. Joyce Massey is a 5-11 swing player out of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit who averaged 12 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals per game last year. Also joining Marnie's Army will be Tamara Tatham. Tatham is a 6-1 forward from Chinguacousy High School in Brampton, Ontario, who averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks per game last season. Also on the roster will be Sha-Kia Hart, a 6-3 forward/center from West Chester, N.Y., and junior college transfers Edris Bailey (Mt. Hope, Trinidad & Tobago) and Brooke Campbell (Baltimore, Md.).
Nearing The Century Mark:
UMass Head Coach Marnie Dacko begins her second season on the bench just six wins shy of 100. At 8-1, Dacko enjoyed the best start of any UMass coach in their first season at the helm, not to mention the second-best start of any UMass team in the program's history as the 1968-69 team, which started 9-0, did not have a coach. When the Minutewomen downed Sacred Heart, 74-48 on Nov. 22, 2002, Dacko became the seventh head coach out of nine in the program's history to win their first game on the UMass bench. The 1978 Southern Connecticut State University graduate is currently 14-14 (.500) at UMass and 94-118 (.443) overall in eight seasons as a head coach.
The Minutewomen will welcome the services of guard/forward Ashley Sharpton this season. The Conyers, Ga., native had to sit out last season after transferring from UNC-Asheville. As a freshman, Sharpton led the Bulldogs in three-point attempts (146), while ranking second in three-pointers made (40) and third in both scoring and minutes played (25.2 mpg). A two-time Big South Rookie of the Week pick, Sharpton tallied a career-high 18 points in her second collegiate appearance (Belmont), and finished her freshman season ranked seventh in the conference in three-point goals made per game (1.48 3PMpg), 12th in three-point percentage and 29th in scoring.
The 2003-04 Minutewoman roster features four players who are from outside the United States. Returnees Cleo Foster (Canada) and Judit Zsedenyi (Hungary) are joined by newcomers Edris Bailey (Trinidad & Tobago) and Tamara Tatham (Canada) as players from outside the U.S.
Touring New England:
The 2003-04 Massachusetts schedule features at least five games against New England foes. The Minutewomen will open up the season on November 21 at Sacred Heart before returning to the Mullins Center to host Holy Cross in their home opener on Nov. 23. Perennial America East beast Vermont invades the Mullins Center on December 3, while UMass will play back-to-back road games against Northeastern and Hartford on Dec. 13 and 21, respectively. The Minutewomen will also participate in the Fairfield Tournament, November 29-30, where Brown, Delaware and host-school Fairfield will join them.
Coming On Strong:
UMass will look for junior guard Monique Govan to continue her strong play that she enjoyed for the second half of the 2002-03 season. Govan averaged just 2.4 points per game last year, but poured in 5.5 ppg in her final six games. She also dished out 2.5 assists in those final six contests. Govan responded well to her first start of the season Feb. 20, 2003, with a career-high 13 points on 6-12 shooting from the floor while playing in all 40 minutes.
Improving The Ratio:
Before tearing her ACL on Jan. 26, 2003, at Dayton, Katie Nelson was leading the conference with a 2.59 assist to turnover ratio. In conference games alone, the Ellicott City, Md., native had a 7.00 assist to turnover ratio. As a freshman in 2001-02, Nelson had a 1.12 ratio. With 167 career helpers, Nelson is 75 away from cracking the school's top 10 list.