The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Lady Dawgs reload in 2002-03

    The 24th-ranked Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs, led by eight-year head coach Sharon Fanning, are coming into this year with two of the top players in the nation in LaToya Thomas and Tan White, but the Bulldogs are also loaded on other areas of the floor this season.
    Thomas and White are not the only weapons that the Bulldogs have. Senior Renea Jones, junior Jessica Carter, 6-foot-1-inch sophomore Rebecca Kates and freshman Blessing Chekwa are just some of the Lady Bulldogs threats.
    Renea Jones transferred last year from an Alabama junior college and enters her second year with Mississippi State. Jones played 24 of 29 games last year averaging 21 minutes a game. Fanning said Jones could arguably be the toughest and hardest working player on the team.
    Jessica Carter will look to her perimeter expertise to guide the Bulldogs. According to coach Fanning she is the best three-point shooter in the league. The 5-foot-7-inch guard led the SEC in three-point percentage with 45 percent. She posted multiple career-highs including seven three-pointers made and 10 attempted during her 36 minutes of play in the Vanderbilt game last season.
    Sophomore Rebecca Kates played in all 31 games as a freshman and says her goal for herself, as a player, is to start. Fanning said that Rebecca is their best communicator on the team and is a great leader.
    Blessing Chekwa is another one of the Lady Bulldog’s outstanding freshmen. Fanning says that Blessing will see a lot of play.
    “From an athletic standpoint, Blessing is going to be one of the best athletes on this basketball team. She is going to defend and rebound and run the floor with the best of them,” Fanning said. “It will just be her adjustment to the system. She will give us some versatility and a good defensive effort.”
    Blessing said that she chose MSU because she loves the team chemistry here.
    Fanning had a vision of building a quality women’s basketball program at Mississippi State. Her hard work and dedication has paid off, as the last four years have been the best in the history of Lady Bulldog basketball. Last season Fanning took the Bulldogs to a fifth consecutive post season appearance after posting a final record of 18-11.
    “We’re trying to focus on work ethic and chemistry. We have to communicate more,” Fanning said. “Defensive pressure will win ball games for us.”
    On the offensive side, Thomas has racked up masses of points during her last three seasons in Maroon and White–becoming the Lady Bulldogs’ all-time leading scorer and also surpassing men’s star Jeff Malone in scoring.
    Thomas has been named a Kodak All-American for three consecutive years along with being named the SEC player of the year in 2002. The senior forward from Greenville was honored with her most prestigious award last year when she was named the ESPN Power Forward of the Year. She ranked second in the country in scoring as of March 31 of last year with 24.6 points a game.
    “We have to be dedicated and determined,” Thomas said “We spend 99 percent of our time focusing on basketball.”
    Thomas lead the SEC in scoring for the third consecutive year and was the only player in the SEC to score more than 40 points in one game, but she went as far as to do it twice in the past season.
    “If we all work together, we will win,” Thomas added, “We need to have a great crowd and a group of fanatics.”
    Last year Thomas was introduced to a new star on the Lady Bulldog squad, Tan White. The two performed well last year but say they will turn the heat up this season.
    “The chemistry between us will be better than last year,” says sophomore Tan White. “My defense should step up.”
    White has been named the Basketball Times Freshman of the Year and to the All-SEC first team. The 5-foot-8-inch guard was the AP SEC Newcomer Player of the Year all in her first year last season. She holds two Mississippi State freshman records in assists (131) and in three-pointers (53).
    The Tupelo native was No. 33 in the nation in steals and No. 35 in scoring with an average of 18.5 points per game last season for the Dawgs.

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    Lady Dawgs reload in 2002-03