Spartan Women’s Basketball Spotlight: Freshman Class (Part One)
GREENSBORO, N.C. – With the 2012-13 UNCG women's basketball season just one week from tipping off, uncgspartans.com will give Spartan fans a closer look at the ladies who will don the Blue and Gold in the coming months. First up are four of the seven freshmen players who are competing in their first season of collegiate basketball – Sarafina Arthur-Williams, Diamond Cooper, Ebona Goins and Ciara Morris.
Sarafina: The reason I chose UNCG is I had the best feeling right when I came on my official visit. Everything was so great - the sun was shining and the vibe was just so warm and welcoming, I loved the coaching staff and I felt I was supposed to be here.
Diamond: I chose UNCG because it is the perfect fit for me. The campus is beautiful, very diverse, most of the facilities are new or were recently renovated and the area just gives me a positive vibe. I clicked with the team instantly. After my visit, I just knew UNCG was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.
Ebona: I chose UNCG because the coaching staff makes me feel like a part of a vision they have for the coming years.
Ciara: I chose UNCG because I liked the vibe I felt when I stepped on campus. It is a friendly school and the staff here works its hardest to help you. I also chose UNCG because it was not too far away from home.
What has been the biggest challenge in the transition from high school to college?
Sarafina: The biggest change from high school to college is how much bigger the post players are! I knew coming in that of course players are going to be bigger, but it was just a big wakeup call that I was not "the best" and I had to work to make my presence known. Academically, holding up my own weight and being responsible for what I have to do, studying and knowing when things are to be due and such was hard. After the first week of being completely confused it became much easier!
Diamond: The biggest transition from high school to college would have to be balancing my priorities such as; class, practice, studying, tutoring, meetings, and finding ways to eat healthy and get enough rest.
Ebona: My biggest challenge in transitioning from high school to college has been time management.
Ciara: The biggest challenge I have had to overcome since entering college is managing everything on my own. In high school, my mom was there to pick up after me, remind me of my doctor appointments and pay for everything. In college, I have had to depend on myself more and mature a lot.
Sarafina: I started playing basketball because I kept growing! I actually was in love with soccer and I thought I was going to become a soccer player. That was my goal, but then being 5'10 and in the 7th grade, I was encouraged to play basketball. I had a decision between both and that day was the hardest day of my life! A man came to my house with an offer saying he could make me into a phenomenal basketball player if I was willing to commit and give my all. My mom made that decision for me and I was devastated. I absolutely did not want to play. I missed soccer so much! The process of becoming a good player was extremely hard and everyday was a struggle, but then I became good at it so it wasn't too bad. I owe it all to my AAU coach Milton Kimbrough. He and my mom really made basketball all the more worth it! Because of them, I love this game and couldn't imagine my life without it.
Diamond: I started playing basketball because when I was 12, I grew about five inches one summer and people were always telling me I should play basketball. I tried out for the team when school started and actually made it. I continued to play and eventually got pretty good at it.
Ebona: I started playing basketball when my dad used to coach my older brother's rec team. I would watch practices and, when I showed interest in it, my dad would stay at the gym with me after their practices and teach me things.
Ciara: Everyone in my family has played basketball at some point in their life. Basketball was something that was very familiar, but it was not forced on me. I chose to try basketball at the age of seven because I wanted to be like my father. He played basketball in college, and in those days he was my hero; he still is. Once I tried the game, I fell in love with it and I never gave it up.
What impresses you most about Coach Palmer?
Sarafina: What impresses me most about Coach Palmer is her knowledge of the game. It seems like she knows how to do everything and she never backs down. I also admire the fact that she understands the process of a woman and how we grow and how we think. Of course, that is expected because she's a woman, but she can really relate to us and makes it very easy to talk to her. I also like the fact that she never lets anything keep her down. Her presence in a room is illuminant.
Diamond: What impresses me the most about Coach Palmer is the fact that she played in the WNBA for nine years and was able to compete professionally overseas in Spain, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Italy and Russia.
Ebona: The thing that impresses me most about Coach Palmer is how she manages to have faith in each of us individually even when we get down on ourselves.
Ciara: What impresses me about Coach Palmer is that she has so many credentials, but does not treat us any different. She does not talk down to us just because she is experienced. She uses her experience to try to help us to persevere and prevent us from making the mistakes she might have made when she played.
What are some of your goals for your first year of collegiate basketball?
Sarafina: Some goals for my first year of collegiate basketball are to do me, be the best that I know I can be and to show consistency. I want to own the paint and have a presence that intimidating and aggressive! I need to be mature and make it happen! I'm very excited to get out there and develop into a dominant player.
Diamond: Some of my goals that I would like to accomplish this year as a college athlete are getting stronger physically, gaining greater agility and getting accustomed to the flow of college basketball.
Ebona: My main goal for my first year of collegiate basketball is to be a part of a turnaround season here at the G!
Ciara: I come into college basketball having just one goal in mind, and that is to play hard and become a better basketball player. I would love to break records as a freshman, but in reality, my main focus is to develop into the great player I know I can be. I do not believe I have shown my fullest potential yet.
Which WNBA player do you think most resembles your own style of play?
Sarafina: The player in the WNBA that I feel like I relate to the most is Sylvia Fowles due to the fact that she represents defense very well. That is what I would say is one of my strongest attributes. All that matters is attitude and effort and that doesn't need to be learned. It comes from your heart and comes down to how bad you want it. Fowles is a very aggressive player and has a very demanding presence when she plays.
Diamond: The WNBA player that most resembles my style of play would have to be Candice Dupree.
Ebona: I think Monique Currie most resembles my own style of play.
Ciara: I like Diana Taurasi because she has an all-around game. She scores, rebounds, gets steals and passes the ball well. I feel I take joy in doing the same things as well. I try not to think of myself as a post player or as a guard. I like to think that I am a wildcard - I have more than one dimension to my game.
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