Ole Miss' recent losing skid in women's basketball truly frustrates Shantell Black, and not just for the obvious reason.
The Rebels haven't been up to par slowing down other teams' offenses, disturbing for a player who has been known for her exceptional defense back to her high school days at Collins Hill.
The junior guard still calls defense "her passion."
But defense has been an issue for Ole Miss during its current streak of seven losses in nine games.
"We've struggled with our defensive pressure," said Black, who was voted the Rebels' defensive MVP last season. "And our offense feeds off our defense."
The 5-foot-4 guard has done her part on the defensive end, tying for third in the SEC with a team-best 2.5 steals per game. That part of her game hasn't changed much since high school, but Black said anyone who saw her play at Collins Hill will notice considerable offensive improvement.
She averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 assists (first in the SEC) last season as a sophomore. This season she boasts an 8.2 scoring average, but has upped her assist average to a 5.5, second in the SEC.
She's also third in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
"Now that I'm a junior, I'm trying to play a bigger role this year," Black said. "I've improved my assist to turnover ratio and I'm looking to be more of a leader. And I'm looking to score more."
Although lately, not much of what the Rebels have done has led to victories.
But even with their mid- to late-season struggles, all isn't lost.
Black said the 15-12 team still has its eyes on the postseason.
"We're looking to finish the season strong," she said. "We're trying to get these last few wins under our belt and get some good momentum going into the SEC tournament."
Kulavic, Richmann hit milestones
St. Pius grad Katie Kulavic, a Norcross resident, and Central Gwinnett grad Elizabeth Richmann reached milestones in the past week for their Oglethorpe women's basketball team.
Kulavic became Oglethorpe's all-time leading scorer last Friday, passing the school mark set by former Parkview standout Heather Francoeur Karvis. Kulavic, who also holds the school assist record, is only 49 points away from the all-time Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference record.
Richmann passed the 1,000-point mark for her career last Saturday in an 83-58 win over Birmingham Southern. She is one of only two players in school history - Francoeur Karvis is the other - to have more than 1,000 points and 600 rebounds in a career.
Oglethorpe is 21-2 and ranked fifth nationally.
Alexander tops 1,000-point mark
Norcross grad Monica Alexander, a senior point guard at Newberry (S.C.), has topped the 1,000-point mark for her college career.
Alexander averages 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists for Newberry (15-9). She plays a team-high 35.3 minutes a game.
Ferdinand stars in CSU win
Collins Hill grad Chauntel Ferdinand powered Columbus State to a 72-66 win over Georgia College and State University on Monday.
The junior, who averages 8.2 points, had 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds in the victory. She made 7 of 12 field goals, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
South Gwinnett grad Mandi Dudish led GCSU with 15 points and teammate Emily Bixler, a Dacula grad, scored 11 off the bench.
Anderson shines in loss
Peachtree Ridge grad Kevin Anderson played well despite his team's 69-63 loss to Dayton last Saturday.
The Richmond guard led his team with 24 points and four assists, making 6 of 14 shots and 11 of 12 free throws. Powerful Dayton improved to 23-3 with the win.
Delk scores career high
Brown sophomore Sarah Delk's team suffered another loss last weekend to Princeton, but the Wesleyan grad stood out as her team fell to 3-19 on the season.
Delk had a career- and game-high 16 points to go with nine rebounds in the 66-41 loss.
Wiedeman leads GCSU win
Greater Atlanta Christian grad Reece Wiedeman sparked Georgia College and State University's 63-46 win over Georgia Southwestern on Wednesday night. He had 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting and added four rebounds and three blocked shots.
Parker gets Stanford honor
Collins Hill grad Tyler Parker, a member of the Stanford wrestling team, was named the school's Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week last week.
The junior was honored for a gutsy effort in the Cardinal's second-ever victory over Arizona State, 20-19. Stanford trailed 16-3 before Parker's overtime win at 149 pounds, which came despite a sprain that hindered his mobility.
Parker scored a takedown with less than 10 seconds left in regulation to tie his match 3-3, then recorded an escape for a 4-3 victory that sparked his team's comeback.
Coffey qualifies for NAIA nationals
Campbellsville (Ky.) true freshman David Coffey, a Collins Hill grad, has qualified for the NAIA National Championships, scheduled for next month in Oklahoma City.
Coffey, who also plays offensive line for Campbellsville's football team, placed third at 285 pounds in the recent Ed South Classic with a 4-1 record. His only loss was 4-3 in the semifinals to a redshirt senior and returning All-American.
Wood gets prestigious Duke award
Buford grad Ryan Wood received the Micah Harris Trinity Teammate Award, one of the two most prestigious awards at the Duke football banquet. It is given to a football player who "displays the highest teammate qualities such as inspiration, unselfishness and commitment to the team."
Wood, who was a senior wide receiver for the Blue Devils last season, is scheduled to complete graduate school at Duke in May.
Scott named to SEC team
Georgia swimmer Kelsey Scott, a Duluth grad, was named this week as one of 12 members of the SEC Swimming and Diving Community Service Team.
Scott has been a reading and phonetics tutor at Barrow Elementary School, was a food bank volunteer, was a Relay for Life participant and team captain, volunteered with the Special Olympics and volunteered with Timothy Road Baptist in helping the homeless during her time at Georgia.
Brady earns two UAA medals
Emory freshman diver Patrick Brady had a strong showing in his first University Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend.
The Central Gwinnett grad won silver in the one-meter competition with a score of 401.25, barely off the gold medal winner's total of 402.20. He also won a bronze medal in the three-meter event, scoring 358.50.
Red-hot Wilkerson gets league honor
Dacula grad Shannon Wilkerson is off to an excellent start to the 2009 season, earning Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week honors on Tuesday.
The Augusta State junior hit .714 in six games the previous week with a 1.571 slugging percentage, three home runs and 15 RBIs.
Through 13 games, Wilkerson has a .511 batting average and leads the Peach Belt in slugging (1.149), runs (21), homers (six) and RBIs (27).
Cain torrid in
Valdosta State's start
After transferring from Georgia, Brookwood grad Clayton Cain has made a nice first impression at his new school, Valdosta State.
Cain is hitting .433 with four home runs and nine RBIs for the 8-3 Blazers, who are ranked 11th nationally in Division II.
Teammate Sam Kauffman, a freshman from Shiloh, has started three games and is hitting .333.
Brookwood grads earn school honors
Brookwood grads and North Georgia teammates Anders Oster and Jordan Erisman were named the Saints' athletes of the weeks in back-to-back weeks.
Oster, a senior, is hitting .429 (second on the team) for the nation's No. 13 team with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Erisman, a freshman, is third on the team with a .412 batting average.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to email@example.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.