Hernando's Mosby making an immediate impact at UF
© St. Petersburg Times
BROOKSVILLE -- When it came to playing time at Florida, Bernice Mosby figured she would have to wait her turn.
After all, it takes a year or two for most freshmen to adjust to the speed of the college game, build strength and develop a rapport with coaches and teammates.
"A lot of freshmen sit on the bench a lot," Mosby said. "So I was prepared for that."
What she didn't expect was to start right away.
Months after leading Hernando High School to within a game of its second final four appearance in four seasons, Mosby is among five freshmen making major contributions at Florida (6-4). Starting at the No. 4 spot, the 6-foot-1 Mosby leads the Gators in scoring (15 points per game) and ranks second in rebounding (8.6). Her 25.7 minutes per game are second to Sarah Lowe.
"I think the biggest thing we get from Bernice and most important is intensity," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said.
"She comes out and plays hard, has passion and excitement for the game and brings emotion to the floor. I think players play at their best when playing with a lot of heart and emotion, and I think that's what Bernice does," Peck said.
Mosby signed with Florida in November 2001 after a long and painful decision-making process during which she gave verbal commitments to several schools, including Connecticut and LSU.
She considered transferring after former coach Carol Ross resigned in March but stuck with Florida when the school hired Peck, who guided Purdue to the 1999 national championship and coached the WNBA's Orlando Miracle.
Mosby couldn't have asked for a better fit.
"She's got a family away from home, and I think we play a style of basketball that fits her," Peck said.
"We have the academic support for her to be successful in the classroom, and her teammates are all real close with her, so I think that it's been a perfect situation for her."
It didn't take Mosby long to settle in. With many of her former prep teammates watching from the stands, Mosby scored a game-high 25 points in her college debut, a 91-42 season-opening victory over Lamar on Nov. 22.
She notched her first double-double four days later, scorching Florida State for 19 points and 13 rebounds in an 80-69 win.
Mosby didn't stop there. After All-American center Vanessa Hayden left with an ankle injury, Mosby scored 20 of her team-high 22 points in the second half of an 81-77 loss to North Carolina State in the consolation game of the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational on Dec. 7.
In addition to her strong post play, Mosby has shown an ability to rebound, take the ball down the floor and shoot 3-pointers. Her versatility is what Peck likes most about Mosby's game.
"She plays so hard on defense," Peck said. "She can guard from the perimeter wing player down to defend the center. I think the defense she brings, the activity she brings and the ability to rebound have been huge for us."
After everything she has done, it's hard to believe Mosby was playing at Hernando just months ago.
"I don't really remember high school that much since I'm playing in college," she said.
Mosby set career scoring and rebounding records at Hernando and graduated as the only 2,000-point scorer -- boy or girl -- in school history. Twice a Times All-Suncoast Player of the Year, Mosby was a first-team all-state selection in 2002 and a finalist for the inaugural McDonald's All-America High School Girls Basketball Game.
As a senior, she averaged 27.6 points and 14.5 rebounds while leading the Leopards to a 23-5 record, Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and Class 3A, District 6 championships and a state quarterfinal. Since arriving at Florida, Mosby has improved her post performance, shot selection and defense. Peck would like to see her become more consistent at finishing shots.
"The biggest adjustment is being patient and waiting for (the shot) to come to you instead of you rushing," Mosby said. "Waiting for your turn."
Come to think of it, that's been her approach all along.
Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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