The East Tennessee State women’s basketball staff has hit its recruiting target this fall.
Head coach Karen Kemp said Wednesday that three high school seniors have made their commitments official during the early signing period, including another Kemp from Georgia.
Jasmine Kemp, a post from Stone Mountain, Ga., joins point guard Brianna McQueen of Jonesboro, Ga., and forward Imani Martinez of Annandale, N.J. The Kemps share a home state but are not related.
“Our goal was four in early signing,” said coach Kemp, “but we got three, and they’re the top three on our list. Those were the ones we really wanted to hit, and hit hard.
“We were lucky, and my staff did a tremendous job. When the recruits came to campus, my players did a tremendous job showing them what it’s like to be a student-athlete here.”
The 6-2 Martinez comes from North Hunterdon High School, which won the Group 4 state championship in New Jersey two years ago. Three seniors on the team have signed Division I scholarships.
Martinez averaged 7.9 points per game as a junior. A coach’s daughter, she’s better known right now for her post defense.
McQueen was the leading scorer (14.7 ppg) as a junior at Mundy’s Hill High School, and has averaged 10 assists a game during her first three seasons. At 5-foot-5, she’s also a standout in volleyball and track.
Kemp, meanwhile, is a 6-2 forward at Norcross High School, which will be looking a third straight state championship this season. Two of her teammates are reportedly ranked among the top 50 players in the nation.
“With Imani and Jasmine, both are posts that can step out and create some problems facing the basket,” said coach Kemp. “Brianna has the complete game, and being a point guard, that’s an area that will be wide-open once Tarita (Gordon) graduates. The only other one we’ve got is the other Brianna (Bogard, a freshman).
“I told our staff a year or so ago that this is what we need, a point guard and post players, and I expect this group to make an immediate impact.”
- A victory in their season opener would have earned the Lady Bucs a trip to Los Angeles to face UCLA in the second round of the Preseason WNIT.
Instead, their 87-76 loss at home to Tennessee Tech ended up sending them to Lake Charles, La., for two consolation games at McNeese State. The Lady Bucs will face UAB on Friday night and either McNeese State or Manhattan on Saturday.
“We kind of blew the L.A. trip,” said Kemp. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win our first game. We’ll go down to Louisiana and try to get better.”
The Lady Bucs have split their three previous games with UAB. The last meeting, in 1995, resulted in an 84-80 victory at the South Florida Holiday Classic in Florida.
“They’re not that far out of our geographical picture, so we know a little bit about them,” said Kemp. “If I had to pick a team in our league, I’d say they’re similar to Stetson. They’re athletic and shoot the ball well.”
ETSU has never faced McNeese State or Manhattan, the fourth team in the pod.
Whoever the Lady Bucs play right now, Kemp is concerned about the offensive production.
“We can always improve defensively, but if we can’t stop people, we have to score more points,” she said. “We just haven’t shot the ball well at all so far. Our 3-point shooters are not knocking down open shots.”
- The men’s basketball team had a surprisingly easy time with Appalachian State in an 81-68 victory Tuesday night in the Dome.
The Mountaineers were loaded with muscle but looked like they had never seen pressure defense before while committing 20 first-half turnovers. A lot of those came against the Bucs’ black press, but zone defenses also took their toll early.
The Bucs bolted to a 23-4 lead and still led by 16 at the half. They were able to weather a late run by the Mountaineers and post their fifth straight win in the series.
App State finished with 29 turnovers, but ETSU coach Murry Bartow gave the zone a mixed review afterward.
“In the first half it did the job,” he said. “In the second half they figured it out more and really hurt us. We probably stayed with it too long, but right now it’s our best defense.”
Bartow has said this will be an effective man-to-man team. His players don’t seem to mind going either way, though it’s been a steady diet of zone in the first two games.
“Man, zone … whatever it takes to keep the other team from scoring,” said forward Isiah Brown. “We’re really scrappy.”
The Bucs host Troy on Saturday at 4 o’clock. The Trojans are 1-1; they lost their opener at Texas Tech 90-85, then blew out LaGrange College 116-63.
The Bucs and Trojans play a home-and-home this season. They’ll meet again in Alabama on Nov. 29.
There’s only one game in between for the Bucs – a date at North Carolina-Charlotte next Tuesday night.
- ETSU heads into the Atlantic Sun Conference volleyball tournament today at Lipscomb as the No. 5 seed, but there is some reason for optimism.
The Lady Bucs (14-15, 7-6) open against fourth-seeded Kennesaw State (13-15, 8-5), a team they defeated 3-2 on the road last month.
“I felt like we kind of turned a corner in that match,” coach Lindsey Devine said Wednesday from Nashville. “We followed a great game plan, after they had beaten us at home right before that. It’s two very different systems, but I think we match up well with them.”
Belmont and Lipscomb figure to be the teams to beat after finishing the regular season at 11-2 in the conference. Belmont is the top seed, while Lipscomb has the home court.
Devine thinks her team could match up with either of them on a good day.
“Both of the top teams have been beaten this year, with us beating Lipscomb, and Belmont and Lipscomb taking a match off each other,” she said. “I think their confidence could be shaken a little bit. If they have a little doubt in their minds, that opens things up for some other teams.”
ETSU had three players received A-Sun honors on Tuesday.
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Devine, the coach’s daughter, was named first-team all-conference, while senior middle blocker Jamie Stancliff made second team. Middle blocker Meredith Hardy, meanwhile, was named to the all-freshman team.
“We typically have four or five freshman on the court at the same time, so that says something about Meredith’s potential,” said Devine. “Jamie has been here four years, always working hard, always doing her job, and it was good to see her honored.
“Megan is just a competitor; she hates to lose. She’s a kid that can take over a game.”
Devine and Hardy are both products of the Dobyns-Bennett program.