HED:Two concerns linger when Dogs meet N.C. State
By Gene Phelps
LUBBOCK, Texas – Height and speed.
Those are the two primary concerns of Mississippi State and North Carolina State heading into today’s women’s NCAA Midwest Regional at Municipal Coliseum.
Mississippi State must find a way to counter N.C. State’s tower, specifically 6-foot-6 center Summer Erb, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year.
“Erb’s a good target,” MSU coach Sharon Fanning said. “We haven’t seen a big player scoring 20 points a game.”
Erb is averaging 20.9 points and a whopping 9.4 rebounds a game for the Lady Wolfpack. She is joined inside by 6-2 forward Monica Bates. MSU’s tallest front line players are 6-foot.
“Summer’s a great player,” said one of MSU’s 6-footers, LaToya Graham. “We’ve got to play together on her and try to get her out of position.”
However, Fanning cautioned that the Wolfpack is not one-dimensional team. N.C. State reached the Final Four last season, losing in the semifinals to Louisiana Tech.
“North Carolina State has a balanced team,” she said. “They’ve got size inside and outside. They’ve got good quickness and play multiple defenses.”
Guard Tynesha Lewis keeps N.C. State opponents honest with her outside shooting. The 5-10 sophomore is averaging 17.1 points per game.
“Summer attracts a lot of attention from (number) three and four players,” Lewis said. “That leaves me open outside.”
North Carolina State’s concern is with the athletic makeup of MSU’s team, which translates into team speed.
“They run the floor really well,” said N.C. State’s Erb, who has seen tape of the Lady Bulldogs. “Their guards and post players handle the ball well and can shoot outside.”
N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who has compiled a 568-232 record in 24 seasons in Raleigh, N.C., expects a tough challenge.
“Mississippi State has a lot of fine athletes,” she said. “They’re aggressive and physical. They get after it. They like an up-tempo game. They can put down the threes from the wing or the post.
“They may not be the tallest team, but they have a lot of versatility.”
One player Yow’s team will focus on containing is All-SEC and freshman All-American forward Jennifer Fambrough, who leads the Bulldogs in scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). Yow recruited the 6-foot Fambrough out of Dickson, Tenn.
“(Fambrough) has got good hands and good post moves,” Yow said. “She’s very smart and works extremely hard in the post.”
The winner of today’s game will advance to Monday’s 8:30 p.m. second-round game against Texas Tech or Stephen F. Austin. The Lady Red Raiders and Ladyjacks play in today’s late game.