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Eckerd men send opponents a message

By RODNEY PAGE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2003

Sure, the University of Tampa was without two starters for Wednesday's Sunshine State Conference men's basketball opener against Eckerd, but the Tritons made a statement nonetheless: Watch out.

Eckerd hammered the Spartans 75-39, Tampa's worst loss in more than 20 years.

This is the same Tampa team that won the league last season and advanced in the Division II playoffs.

Clearly, Eckerd bears watching the rest of the season.

That's because the Tritons score more than any squad in the SSC (81.8 points per game) and play solid defense (63.8 ppg). Sharrod McCree is having an outstanding season, averaging 14.9 points, third in the conference. Marcus Bryant, Cerwin Thompson and Anthony Washington average more than 10 points.

"Every game in this conference is going to be tough," Eckerd coach Tom Ryan said. "We've got to be ready for every single one."

PLAYER OF WEEK: Eckerd senior guard Andrea Patterson was named the Sunshine State Conference women's player of the week after three big games in December and early January.

Patterson, from McMinnville, Tenn., averaged 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.7 steals in three wins.

On Dec. 30 against New Jersey Tech, Patterson scored a career high 32, including three straight free throws that sent the game into overtime in an eventual 66-56 victory.

Eckerd is 9-5 and 0-1 in the league after a 69-57 conference-opening loss Wednesday to the University of Tampa.

SPC BASKETBALL: This weekend marks the start of conference play for the St. Petersburg College women's squad.

At 9-8 during the first half of the season, coach William Smith isn't sure what to think.

"I know the team is excited about starting (conference play), and I think they're ready," Smith said. "I've been talking to them about the state tournament for a long time.

"I have a constant reminder at home. Every time I open my closet the name tag they give you at states is inside the door," he said. "We haven't been since '99, so they know I want to get back there."

In order to get another name tag, the Titans are going to need athleticism and maturity.

The Titans lack size. Freshman Charmaine Polack is the tallest member at 6-foot-5, but gets little playing time. The team mostly is made up of smaller, fast players.

There also are only five sophomores on the 12-player roster. Experience may be a key as the season wears on.

"Our freshmen really need to play like sophomores now that we're in the second semester," Smith said. "Every team in our league is going to be competitive."

The men's squad took a step back in the Suncoast Conference after a 96-94 overtime loss to Polk CC on Wednesday.

The Titans are 9-7 overall, 0-1 in the league. Carl Jenkins remains one of SPC's top scorers.

He tallied 19 against Polk, and a week earlier scored 22 against St. Johns River CC and a career high 28 against Pasco-Hernando CC on Jan. 4.

TAKE A KID: Eckerd College will have the annual Take a Kid to a Game program Jan. 25 during its women's/men's basketball doubleheader against Saint Leo.

The program, sponsored by the NCAA, allows children accompanied by an adult to enter the game free. Adult tickets are $1.

The women's game starts at 5:30 p.m., the men's at 7:30. Also, NCAA mascot J.J. Jumper will be at both games.

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