Centre's Coleman enjoys victories

January 30, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Jacqueline Coleman finally had the weekend she had been waiting for. And in large part because of her play, the Centre College women picked up their first two conference wins.

Coleman, a former Mercer County standout who transferred to Centre last season, scored a combined 45 points in victories over Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference foes Hendrix and Rhodes last weekend.

"We said we can't wait till a team plays zone on us and we could pick it apart," Coleman said. "We've just been waiting all year for something to just click. Either we played together and didn't play hard, or we played hard but didn't play together. This weekend we finally put the two together."

And no one scored more points than Coleman. She had a game-high 27 points against Hendrix on 9-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point territory. She followed that up by scoring 18 points against Rhodes Sunday, going 5-for-8 overall from the field and 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.


"I just think I was focused," Coleman said.

Those two games more than doubled her previous scoring total in SCAC play, where she'd garnered just 35 points in five games.

She has started all seven conference games and is averaging 32.7 minutes, 11.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. She's shooting 53 percent from the floor and 44 percent from 3-point range.

Overall, she's averaging 6.8 points and 2.6 rebounds a game going into tonight's game at Millsaps.

"Once Jacqueline hits her first few shots, she gets her confidence going, and she starts to believe she can make any shot she's looking for," Centre coach Jennifer Ruff said.

Coleman joined Centre (5-13) after two unhappy seasons at Lindsey Wilson. She said this past weekend is what she was hoping for when she became a Colonel.

"Anybody hopes to play as well as we did this weekend," Coleman said. "I'm just glad it's finally coming together. I just had some opportunities to score, and I took advantage of them.

"Anytime you start a new program, it's hard and I'm harder on myself than anyone else is. I took the pressure off myself, decided I had nothing to lose and that I needed to just play ball."

She has taken advantage of her chances to play

Her chances to do that have increased as the year has gone on. The Centre women have faced several defections, and Coleman has taken advantage of her chances to play. She said the changes have been hard on her and the other seniors, Virginia Lowery and Nessa Timoney, who have tried to do their best to keep everyone positive.

The team is on its fourth point guard, and Coleman said Chelsea Wessel has done a great job of taking over at the point.

"It's been hard to keep everybody's head up when we have so many people playing out of position," Coleman said. "Chelsea is handling it so well, and after every game I tell her I'm so proud of her. We're helping everyone understand it's OK if we make mistakes, we just have to get past it."

It is exactly that leadership, along with a love for the game of basketball, that Ruff said makes Coleman so valuable to the team.

"Her attitude on the court is great," Ruff said. "She loves to play basketball, and she constantly works hard to get better."

As her final season winds down, Coleman has already started to plan ahead. She said she would like to get a job as a graduate assistant coach next year, and hopes she can turn her experiences working at University of Tennessee camps the past three summers into a job at Kentucky with former Tennessee assistant Mickie DeMoss.

However, Coleman would also enjoy working at Louisville, where her '

"PawPaw," Jack Coleman, Sr., has his jersey retired.

Regardless of where she may spend next year, she said she is thoroughly enjoying her final season with the Colonels.

"I've been through so much, transferring and more stuff that nobody knows about," Coleman said. "Being able to persevere through that means I can help these other girls. It always made me feel good when seniors would be telling me I'm OK and that everything was going to be OK. I want to do that for them. "I don't worry about myself. I worry about keeping every one else up and my game comes."

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