JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – This is the second of a two-part series that analyzes the roster for Carson-Newman women's basketball prior to the 2014-15 campaign. Today's feature focuses on the frontcourt with 2013-14 South Atlantic Conference Freshman of the year Kaitlyn Cupples (Clinton, Tenn.).
Cupples became the first Eagle since Shannon DePew in 2010-11 to be named the SAC Freshman of the Year and fifth player to receive that honor in the program's 25-year SAC history. The Food Lion SAC All-Tournament Team selection led the league with a 52.7 percent field goal percentage by averaging 9.1 points per game. The six-foot-one forward led the team with 183 rebounds and 35 blocked shots. Her rebound total were 10th in the conference while her 35 blocks were good for fourth.
The drive for Cupples to continue to improve led her to expand her game.
"I definitely tried to develop more of an outside game, like 15-foot and be able to dribble more so that I'm not just a one-dimensional player," Cupples said.
Joining Cupples up front is senior forward Whitney Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) who started 23 of the 27 games she participated in last season. Kyle averaged 5.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest, the latter of which was good for the second-best tally on the squad. The Morehead State transfer notched five rebounds or more 17 times.
Senior Jassmine Franklin (Lexington, Ky.) was a solid defensive player coming off the bench for head coach Mike Mincey's group. Franklin tallied 32 blocks last season which was good for fifth in the SAC. Despite averaging just 12.4 minutes per game, the six-foot-one center averaged 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest.
"I think that Jassmine Franklin and I really have the height advantage and lankiness," Cupples said. "We have the quickness versus other forwards so I think that that is something that teams have to be afraid of and they will have to alter their offense a little bit."
Junior Taylor Peterson (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) rounds out the group of returners. The five-foot-ten slasher was one of seven players to compete in all 30 games a season ago as she averaged 14.1 minutes per outing. The Palm Beach Atlantic transfer averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds last year.
Senior Jasmine Poole (Harrisburg, Pa.) sat out last season after transferring from Arkansas Tech. In 2012-13, Pool averaged 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for a Golden Suns team that won the Great American Conference regular season championship.
"Poole will definitely be a good addition to our squad because she is just such a big presence down low and it's really hard to guard," Cupples said. "Even in practice we really can't stop her. Offenses and defenses will have a tough time with her."
Sophomore Elizabeth Masengil (Englewood, Tenn.) joins the Eagle program after transferring from the University of Tennessee-Martin.
Two freshman join the Lady Eagles in Allison Hodge (Blaine, Tenn.) and Jessica Simerly (Talbott, Tenn.). Hodge was a finalist for the Class AA Miss Basketball and Greater Knoxville Female Athlete of the Year at Grainger High School last season. Simerly was a two-time All-Conference selection at Morristown West.
"Jecca and Allison bring different dimensions to our squad," Cupples said. "I think that Jecca and I favor in our positions, but Allison is more of a four and has more of a range."
The Lady Eagles are less than two weeks from trips to the University of North Carolina and the University of Tennessee to participate in exhibitions against top-ten Division I teams.
"I think that it's a wakeup call on how tough you have to be," Cupples said. "If you can guard them or get a rebound off of them, you can get a rebound or a goal off of anyone in our league."
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