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Baptist Has Back-to-Basics Summer
By Jamie Agin
Assistant Sport Saturday Editor
Whether facing off against competi
tion or working out by herself, North
Carolina forward Chrystal Baptist’s bas
ketball philosophy seems simple:
Shoot first Ask questions later.
Baptist averaged only nine minutes
per game last season while serving as a
backup for All-American and ACC
scoring leader LaQuanda Barksdale.
Although she couldn’t exactly fire at
will, Baptist showed no lack of aggres
siveness with respect to shot selection.
She scored in double figures in three
games, including a 10-point outburst in
only 11 minutes against North Carolina
Barksdale has moved on to the
Pordand Fire of the WNBA, leaving
Baptist as one of several players who
will be counted on to pick up the scoring
Bersticker Hopes to Avoid Injury Bug
By Gavin Off
For five years, North Carolina center
Brian Bersticker has played the role of
the supporting actor, spending most of
his time out of the basketball spotlight.
But this season might be different.
With the departure of Brendan
Haywood to the NBA, Bersticker might
finally land a leading role, perhaps not
as the Tar Heels’ starting center but def
initely as solid contributor off the bench.
“I want to make a positive contribu
tion this year,” said Bersticker, a gradu
ate student. “We have a very different
team, a very athletic team. We’re going
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slack this season.
In order to do
so, Baptist spent
much of the off
season working to
correct her less
“I learned to
shoot up,” Baptist
said. “When you
shoot out, the ball
is flat. But when
you shoot up, your
shot has arc on it”
To tweak her
shot, she spent
averaged 3.0 points
and 3.2 rebounds
extra time shooting outside of practice,
worked out with weights to increase her
strength and used a novel approach.
She took a seat.
“You don’t realize how much shoot
ing from a chair actually helps your
to change up the offense a bit, try to
spread out the floor. A lot of guys can
stroke the shot. I have a really positive
outlook for this season.”
Spreading the floor should help the
6-foot-10,238-pound fifth-year player.
Bersticker has a nice outside shot for a
man his size. The Virginia Beach, Va.,
native is a career 51.7 percent shooter
from the floor, scoring 212 points in 78
games. He’s also more agile than he looks.
But the problem that has plagued
Bersticker his first four seasons still
remains. The big man continues to be
prone to injuries.
Bersticker broke his left foot in the
1999-2000 season, forcing him to red
shot,” Baptist said. “You’re so far down
that you have to shoot it properly, or it’s
not going to go in."
Baptist saw dramatic improvement in
her technique and is now focusing on
range instead of form.
“Fifteen feet in, my shot looks pretty
good,” she said. “Three-pointer, give me
another year, and it’ll be a lot more con
Baptist isn’t the only one seeing
results. UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell has
also acknowledged the quality -and the
quantity -of Baptist’s shots.
“Chrystal knows one word: shoot.
And she’s been doing it pretty good,”
Despite the focus on her offense, Baptist
is hardly a one-dimensional player. Her
long arms enable her to be an effective
shot blocker and rebounder, as well. One
of Baptist’s main objectives for her UNC
career is to lead the ACC in rebounding
shirt, and recently hurt his shoulder
when he took a Neil Fingleton charge in
a pickup game. Bersticker has had lim
ited practice since the incident.
“I don’t know how minor it is," said
Doherty at the ACC’s preseason press
conference. “He hasn’t practiced but
one or two days.
“(The injury) kills you because you
try to encourage guys to take charges.
And if they’re going to get hurt like that,
they probably won’t want to step in the
Coupled with the injuries, there have
always been questions about Bersticker’s
But with the loss of Haywood and the
by the end of her senior season.
In the more immediate future, Baptist
has one goal that stands above all others:
to erase the memory of missing last
year’s NCAA Tournament
“We’re hungry because last year, it
didn’t sink in to me until after they did
the bids,” Baptist said. “I was sitting at
home going, ‘When are we gonna get a
bid?’ That’s when it finally hit me that
we’re not going to the tournament
“It kind of startled me a bit because
that’s what people expected from us.
That’s what we expected from ourselves."
Baptist looks forward to helping
restore those expectations, but unlike
with her jump shot, she’s got both feet
on the ground.
Said Baptist: “I have mixed feelings.
I’m excited about it, but at the same
time, I just want to make sure I do the
job. The main thing is to continue to
work hard and play confident.”
strong possibility that Julius Peppers
won’t play, the Tar Heels will need a
healthy Bersticker to help fill the void.
“Bersticker will have a bigger role,”
said forward Orlando Melendez. “His
role as a center will have to be bigger
because Brendan’s gone.”
And although he doesn’t have the
immense game-time experience of other
North Carolina seniors, Bersticker will
have to get accustomed to the Tar Heels’
game plan quickly.
“If healthy, he’ll play significant min
utes and be asked to score, because I think
he can really score,” Doherty said. “He
can shoot the ball, and he can either be a
starter or the first big man off the bench.”
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Fewer Minutes Should
Improve Brown's Play
By lan Gordon
Assistant Sports Editor
Call it addition by subtraction.
A season ago, North Carolina guard
Coretta Brown needed to be on the court
at all times. From the opening tap to the
closing buzzer, she was a constant floor
presence, filling in for the absent Nikki
Teasley and filling up UNCs box score.
Need some points? No problem. A
handful of key assists? Got it. A whole
ton of minutes? Absolutely.
And therein lies the problem.
With Teasley out for the season for
personal reasons and no other real
answer at point guard, UNC coach
Sylvia Hatchell was forced to go to
Brown time and time again.
Neither foul trouble nor fatigue
would keep Brown out of the game. Due
to the Tar Heels’ four overtime ACC
games, including a double-overtime win
against Clemson in which she played all
50 minutes, Brown averaged 40.3 min
utes per conference game last season.
That’s right - she averaged more than
a regulation game per ACC outing.
That won’t be the case this year, and
that’s a plus for North Carolina.
“Coretta’s not going to have to play
40 minutes a game like she did last year
with all the guys we have,” Hatchell said.
That’s because with Teasley’s return
and the early emergence of freshman
guard Leah Metcalf, Brown finally has
company in the backcourt.
And the Tar Heels now have a game
plan. Hatchell said she will go to a three
guard set to utilize the quickness Brown,
Metcalf and Teasley bring to her team.
As North Carolina gets faster, the
team also will improve defensively.
“Defensively, we couldn’t play last
year as aggressive as I wanted to because
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Friday, November 9, 2001
we couldn’t afford
for Coretta to foul
out,” Hatchell said.
will have the luxu
ry of subbing in
fresh legs, Brown
will wear yet
another hat in her
third year with the
the 5-foot-8 Brown
started 10 games,
most of which
led the ACC
in assists and
ratio last year.
game leave of absence. She figured to
earn more playing time her sophomore
year but got more than she bargained
for when Teasley sat out the year.
Suddenly, she was the one. For the
most part, she handled the situation well.
“I don’t mind being that person. Not at
all,” Brown said. “If that’s what I have to
do for the team to win, then I’ll do that”
At times, Brown sparkled in the spot
light. In a 83-79 upset of then-No. 19
N.C. State at the Smith Center on
Jan. 14, Brown scored 22 points on 8-for
-16 shooting and dished out seven assists.
A week later, Brown showed the
streaky shooting that marked her year.
She shot 5 for 17 and had six turnovers
in a 94-77 loss to then-No. 13 Oklahoma.
Despite Brown’s ups and downs last
year, UNC forward Jennifer Thomas
credited her with keeping the team in
tight games last season.
“I feel like she was probably our
MVP last year because she played so
much, and she did step up in the big
games," Thomas said. “I expect great
things from her this year, and I know
she won’t let me down.”
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