2007-08 Wolfpack Pre-Season Notes
Two Starters, Eight Players Return From Sweet 16 Run
NC State’s roster only features two upperclassmen among the 13-player squad that will take the court this season for the Wolfpack. Senior forward Khadijah Whittington leads a crop of eight players back from last season’s 25-10 squad that reached the NCAA Sweet 16 for the 11th time in program history. Junior guard Shayla Fields returns to the back court after a break out sophomore campaign.
The now five-member sophomore class (Megan Zullo will be a red-shirt freshman this year) will be called upon to take a significant step forward and be strong contributors this season. Guard Nikitta Gartrell saw the most playing time last year, starting 15 of the first 16 games as a freshman and averaged 4.7 points per game, which included four double-figure scoring games.
Point guard Amber White started the first three ACC contests after coming on strong midway through last year and played in 29 games overall. She scored a season-high 14 points in the win at Wake Forest.
Sharnise Beal, an athletic wing player with the ability to slash to the goal, should see more playing time in her second season with the Pack. She was a steady contributor last year in a limited role, averaging just under two points in 27 games.
Also back in the mix is center Chanita Jordan and forward Lucy Ellison. Jordan suffered through an injury plagued preseason that forced her to miss the first 10 games of the season, before making her debut against hometown-rival Saint Joseph’s in late December. When shown the chance to display her talents at Xavier, Jordan scored 12 points and eight rebounds in a season-high 20 minutes. Ellison will spend the pre-season fighting for minutes in the front court during her sophomore season. She averaged 0.6 points and 1.0 rebound in 22 games played.
Zullo began last year in the starting lineup in the back court and played the first seven games overall until a stress fracture in her right leg forced her to miss the remainder of the season. She was granted a medical red-shirt season by the NCAA and has four years of eligibility left beginning with the 2007-08 campaign.
Whittington Ready For Senior Season
Khadijah Whittington is poised for her final season with the Wolfpack and is ready to make some noise nationally.
The rangy forward showed the country what she is all about last year when she was the “heart and soul” of a team that made an improbable run to the NCAA Sweet 16. Whittington was named to the All-Fresno Regional Team after scoring a career-high 23 points and hauling in 11 boards in the drama-filled overtime win over nationally-ranked Baylor in the second round of the NCAA’s at the RBC Center.
She became the first Wolfpacker in 20 years to average a double-double when she posted 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season and for her efforts, was named third team All-ACC.
The Roanoke, Va., native also came up big in the ACC Tournament - being named to the all-tournament first team along with teammate Ashley Key.
After setting a school record with 366 rebounds last year, Whittington has a good chance to become the fourth player in school history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. In addition, she is also in reach of becoming the first player in the 34-year history of the program and only the second player in ACC history (Barbara Kennedy of Clemson) to have 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocks in a career. She enters the year with 922 points, 766 rebounds, 157 steals and 95 blocks.
Fields Anchors Back Court for the Pack
Shayla Fields had a breakout season for NC State averaging 10 points a game last year, good for third on the club. She ranked statistically as the most improved player in the ACC last season after scoring less than one point per game as a freshman. The combo-guard was among the league leaders in 3-point shooting last season. The sharp-shooter made 35.0 percent of her attempts (10th best in the ACC) and canned 1.43 trey’s per game, the 12th best mark in the league.
The Salisbury, N.C. native also ranked ninth in the ACC at the free throw line, burying 76.0 percent (76-for-100) of her attempts. Fields also was second on the club with 80 assists.
Coach Yow Back for 33rd season at NC State
Head coach Kay Yow is set to begin her 37th season on the collegiate sidelines and 33rd with the Wolfpack in 2007-08. Her overall record of 708-324 (.686) gives her the sixth most wins in women’s basketball division I history and the fourth most among active coaches after the retiring of Texas’ coach Jody Condradt after last season. Yow’s mark at NC State sits at 651-305 (.681). Yow has guided her squads to 20 of the 26 NCAA Tournaments, 11 trips to the Sweet 16, and a trip to the Elite Eight and Final Four in 1998.
She has also collected five ACC Regular Season Championships, four ACC Tournament titles, amassed 20, 20-win seasons and a staggering 28 winning seasons and in 2003-04, won her 650th game to become the first ACC women’s basketball coach to eclipse that special milestone.
Wolfpack Welcomes Another Impressive Freshmen Class
The freshman class is ranked 18th by All Star Girls Report which is the second straight top-20 recruiting class for the Pack
Forward Tia Bell is ranked No. 20 nationally at her position by All Star Girls Report and No. 24 by Scout.com. Bell is the two-time Gatorade D.C. Player of the Year and was named first team All-Met by the Washington Post as a senior.
Forward Gloria Brown is ranked the No. 9 power forward and 43rd overall by All Star Girls Report and the No. 32 forward by Scout.com. She set school records with 1,800 points, 1,200 points and 400 blocked shots.
Forward Brittany Strachan was ranked the No. 20 power forward by All Star Girls Report and 103rd overall. She led her team to a state title in 2007 after averaging 17.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Guard Emili Tasler ranked No. 190 in her class by All Star Girl Report.
Center Hanna Halteman ranked as the 233rd best player nationally by All Star Girls Report.
Brown and Halteman become the sixth and seventh players from the state of Pennsylvania, while Brown is the fifth player from the city of Philadelphia to play for Coach Yow. Strachan and Tasler are the 38th and 39th players that have signed from the state of North Carolina.
NC State opens its season on Sunday, November 11 at home against UNC Greensboro at 2pm.