'Too Young' Blues? Itoro Coleman, like Brad Brownell, excited about young team

With 23 freshmen and sophomores on combined rosters, both coaches depending heavily on talented, inexperienced players

Clemson women's basketball coach Itoro Coleman

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson women's basketball coach Itoro Coleman

Brad Brownell has nothing on Itoro Coleman.

Between them, Clemson's men's and women's basketball coaches can count 23 freshmen and sophomores on their rosters - 12 for Brownell and 11 for Coleman.

Each has four upperclassmen - two seniors for the men, two juniors for the women.

But like Brownell, Coleman isn't singing the 'too young' blues as practice gets underway for the 2012-13 season.

"This is an exciting time for Lady Tiger basketball," said Coleman, a former Clemson star who is beginning her third season as head coach. "We're young, but we're talented. Last year's freshman class got a ton of experience, and this year's group is very talented.

"We're better. We're better than we were last year, if we can stay away from the injury bug. If our young kids can grow up fast, we'll be OK."

The Lady Tigers return the majority of their scoring and rebounding from last season - with much of that provided by a talented freshman class.

"Nikki Dixon led us in scoring last year as a freshman. Chesley Lindsay was our point guard last year," Coleman said. "All the sophomores put in a lot of work over the summer, and they know what the expectations are. This year's freshmen have somebody to show them how we do things here. So I'm excited."

Clemson's veterans are 6-3 post Quinyotta Pettaway and wing guard Chancie Dunn - both juniors.

In addition to Dixon and Lindsay, the sophomore group includes long-range shooting specialist Kelly Gramlich and a pair of post players in Natiece Ford and Deja Hawkins.

Clemson's freshman class was ranked as one of the nation's best, headlined by 6-4 wing guard Jonquel Jones, who played her high school basketball for national power Riverside Baptist in Maryland after moving from the Bahamas prior to her junior season, and guard Danaeja Grant from Piscataway, N.J.

They're joined by fellow freshmen Nyliah Jamison-Myers, a 6-3 post from Orangeburg, S.C., and Aisha Turner, a 5-7 point guard from Atlanta, Ga.

Eligible to join the team after the semester break is redshirt sophomore Charmaine Tay, a transfer from Louisville.

"We've had four days of practice and we're still working out the kinks, but but from an intensity standpoint, it's there," said Coleman. "These kids are hungry, they want to be better, and they want to do everything that we ask them to do.

"We just have to work out our chemistry right now. But so far, so good."

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