Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor | The Franklin News Post
FERRUM -- During Bryan Harvey's tenure as Ferrum College's women's basketball coach,
the Panthers have won three championship banners -- all of which hang in William P.
There's room for a fourth -- and plenty of more for that matter.
Ferrum, a year removed from a 24-5 finish and a second straight appearance in the
NCAA Division III tournament, is the preseason favorite to win the USA South Athletic
Conference, but to do it, the Panthers will have to navigate a different league landscape.
Christopher Newport University (CNU), a perennial league title-winner and last year's
champion, is in its inaugural year in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC), and the
USA South has added Huntingdon (Ala.) College and Covenant (Ga.) College one year
after adding Maryville (Tenn.) College, Piedmont (Ga.) College and LaGrange (Ga.)
The Panthers defeated the Captains in their lone regular-season meeting last year
and afterwards, the Captains did not lose again until the Elite Eight round of the
"Christopher Newport has been a powerhouse for a long time, and I think they were
good for our league,' said Harvey, now in his ninth year as head coach. "They were
always a national power. For us, that's what we hope to be, what we aspire to be.
It's good to see where you fit in.
"When I first got here, we were trying to catch them and I feel like the last couple
of years, we've been right there with them on equal footing,' Harvey said.
"They were good for us and I'm going to miss that. Hopefully, we can get some non-conference
games with them. I'm going to miss competing with them,' Harvey said.
In women's basketball, the USA South has split into divisions with Ferrum, Mary Baldwin
College, Averett University, Greensboro (N.C.) College, Methodist (N.C.) University,
North Carolina Wesleyan College, Meredith (N.C.) College and William Peace (N.C.)
University in the North Division and Maryville, Piedmont, LaGrange, Huntingdon and
Covenant in the South division.
Ferrum plays the teams in its division twice and the teams in the other division once
for 19 league games.
"With expansion of the league, it's going to take a little time to figure it all out,'
"It's a little bit different with the way the split is. It would be nice if we had
an equal number of teams (so divisions would be equal). I think you've got to play
this year and see how (the split) works. I don't know what the perfect answer is.
I think it's going to take a couple of scheduling cycles to figure out what is the
best thing for our league.'
The changes will have an effect on Ferrum's strength of schedule.
"Last year, we had CNU on the schedule and we played Maryville (a Division III at-large
qualifier) twice. This year, we have Maryville just once. Our strength of schedule
is going to take a hit.'
Also, the overall No. 1 seed gets to host the conference's postseason tournament.
Because of division play, that advantage could be determined by the outcome of one
Ferrum's second conference game this season is against Maryville, the favorite in
the South Division, and it's on the road.
The Panthers enter this season of change with a cast of veterans -- they return four
of five starters from a year ago and they have experienced players coming off the
"It's a pretty good senior and junior class,' Harvey said. "Shea (Smith), Kayla (Goins),
Boreika (Burwell) and Katy (Kipps) have been on a pretty good run,' Harvey said.
That senior quartet enters the season having been a part of 65 victories.
"When it's all said and done, this will probably be the most successful senior class
that's ever come through Ferrum College in women's basketball. I'll definitely have
some work to do (in recruiting) to replace them,' Harvey said. "The next couple of
years, I'm going to have to do some major work to replace what we're about to lose.'
Ferrum finished fourth nationally in field-goal percentage (45.2 percent), sixth in
assists-per-game (17.5 percent) and seventh in scoring offense (77.7 points-per-game)
a year ago.
"I definitely think there are high expectations going into the season. I think we're
going to get everyone's best shot,' Harvey said. "The thing we've worked on this offseason
is toughness. I think we need to be a little tougher, and defensively, I think we
need to get better. There are times when we play well defensively, but we are not
the defensive team that we need to be.'
Harvey said his team can't always rely on winning simply by outscoring the opponent.
"You are just not going to outscore everybody. Then, you are going to have those nights
when you are not shooting the ball particularly well,' Harvey said. "Are you good
enough defensively to win on those nights?'
Ferrum's loss to USA South newcomer Huntingdon in last year's national tournament
was "one of those nights,' Harvey said.
"We didn't shoot it well and we were not good enough defensively to make up for that.
I think we've got a lot of very-skilled offensive players and, sometimes, I think
they get satisfied by outscoring opponents,' Harvey said. "I just don't think that's
a formula for playing deep into (the NCAAs). The teams that play deep in the playoffs
are good defensive teams and good rebounding teams.
"We've got seniors who have done what I've asked them to do for four years. They should
understand our defensive system by now, so, hopefully, we'll see some improvement
defensively this year,' Harvey said.
Returning junior Jacole Hairston, a preseason honorable mention All-America selection
by Women's DIII News, averaged a team-best 13.5 points last year. She finished seven
in Division III in field-goal percentage after being ranked first during the season.
Hairston was the only guard listed in the top 10 in that category. She converted 57.2
percent of her shots (158 of 276) last year.
"Usually, field-goal percentage leaders are post players.
"For her to be that high nationally, says a lot about her shot selection. She is just
a very efficient offensive player,' Harvey said.
"It might be a little more of a challenge for her this year. With Tesla (former All-American
guard Telsa Akers) gone, I think the focus defensively will be Jacole and probably
Katie inside. She's going to get defended maybe a little bit differently,' Harvey
said. "With the types of shots she does take, I think she has the ability to shoot
a high percentage.'
Smith (Franklin County) returns at point guard after finishing eighth nationally in
assists-per-game last year with an average of 5.6.
"I think Shea is one of the best passing point guards in the country. If our kids
get out an run, she always finds the open man. She's a very unselfish player.'
Smith has the ability to score too.
"I don't think she needs to score more. I think she has the ability to and I expect
that she will score more,' Harvey said. "With what we lost with Tesla's scoring (12.7
points-per-game), you'll see Katy's production will probably go up, Jacole's production
will probably go up and I think Kylene (Culler) has the ability to score. Kayla (Goins)
is going to increase her scoring load. Shea will probably increase her scoring, but
I don't think that's something she has to do for us to be same team offensively that
we were last year.'
Kipps averaged 12.6 points, Smith averaged 9.8 and Culler averaged 9.1 and a team-best
Ferrum has added transfers Lindsay Martin and Krista Cox, both of whom are sophomore
guards and both of whom that Panthers recruited out of high school.
Martin is a transfer from Division II Catawba (N.C.) College who prepped at Carroll
"She has the ability to score the basketball. She shoots the ball extremely well.
She has a knack for scoring,' Harvey said. "I think she is going to contribute right
Cox is a transfer from Virginia Intermont College who prepped at Floyd County.
"She is an unbelievable shooter. I feel like she's as good a shooter as we've had
since I've been here (as head coach),' Harvey said. "She is going to give us an outside
threat that we definitely need.'
Khadija Payne is a the team's lone freshman. She prepped at Princeton (W.Va.), the
same high school that produced Akers.
Juniors Myah Robinson and Jessica Rhodes and sophomore Kemani Crawford also return.