November 15, 2003
Ryan Gallagher, staff writer
In the past, stopping the Tulane women's basketball team lay in the opponent's ability to contain the Wave's formidable post presence, which has been a staple of Head Coach Lisa Stockton's program since her arrival in 1994. As the 2003-2004 season gets underway, teams will have to subscribe to a new approach if they hope to foster success against the Green Wave.
The Wave has recently relied on its ability to wear down opponents with aggressive and bruising play from its front court. After losing All-Conference post players in Teana McKiver and Gwen Slaughter to graduation, Stockton's team will rely on an up-tempo style led by perimeter play from the guards.
"We will have a different style of play than we have had in the past," Stockton said. "The last few years we had a big center that has been the focal point of our offense. This year, however, our posts are very quick and athletic and I think we will have a style of play that really suits our team."
For the Wave to advance to its 10th straight NCAA tournament, it will need a strong presence from the play of its three senior leaders. The Wave will look to senior guard Delacey Joseph to carry a bulk of the scoring load. Joseph will start for the Wave as the leading returning scorer after a junior campaign in which she averaged 10 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Joseph provides a much-needed dose of athleticism and size to both sides of the ball.
"Delacey will play a much different role for us this year than she has done in the past," Stockton said. "We're looking for her to be more consistent and more of a scorer for us this season. What we're doing offensively will benefit her game more than the style we played in the past. She'll have more opportunities to drive to the basket and to create a little bit. When you have those post players inside like we have had in the past, it makes it tougher to do that."
Wave fans can expect consistent play at the point guard position as senior Kelly Nadeau returns to her spot at the helm of the Wave offense, where she has excelled since her arrival at Tulane. Nadeau, who started every game last season, brings a true point guard's mind-set to the court. She is also more than capable of hitting the long-range three-pointer, as evidenced in her 44 three-point field goals last season. Nadeau also led the Wave in assists and steals in 2002-03.
"Nadeau is one of our most consistent outside shooters, though she doesn't look for her shot as much since she is such a playmaker," Stockton said. "We will certainly look for her to score with her outside shot this year. She has probably the most experience of any of our players and we're going to look to her for consistency more than anything."
The Wave will rely on its post play primarily from senior Tiffany Wilson and junior Lakethia Hampton. Wilson earned a spot in the starting lineup in last season's final eight games. She will be looked upon to provide consistent post play on the offensive side of the ball, while Stockton will call on her to establish herself as the Wave's premier defensive stopper. Hampton carries a reputation as a ball hawk on both the offensive and defensive rebounding side of the game.
"We are really counting on [Hampton] for her ability to rebound and score," Stockton said. "I have been extremely impressed with her focus this fall. She's come back in great shape, and her game has really improved. She's ready to step up and be someone that we can count on game in and game out. How she plays is huge for us."
Sophomore Shelly Cayette, who stands at 6-4, will also be called upon to help fill the gap in the post left by McKiver and Slaughter. New to the lineup is junior transfer Natalie Walsh. Walsh earned Southern Conference All-Tournament honors while playing for Wofford College in 2002, as well as All-Freshman team honors in 2001.
"I think this year will definitely be a work in progress," Stockton said. "We will have some balance, where a different person may step up every night. I think the team will progress as each player develops her role, so it is hard to say where we will be even in December. It's a team without a true star, and that has given us perhaps the best chemistry we've had since I've been here. This is a different team than what we've had in the past, and it will be interesting to see how everyone responds to the changes. It should be a fun, exciting year."
After routing the Houston Jaguars 78-50 last Thursday in the team's opening exhibition game at Fogelman Arena, the Wave return to action Sunday against cross-town rival Xavier University. Joseph led the Wave with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists against Houston. Walsh, in her first action with the Wave, provided 14 points in the contest.
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