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McCormick off to a quick start for UM women

Oct. 17, 2001

University of Miami women’s basketball coach Ferne Labati becomes a nonstop talker when lauding her players.

But there’s something about the way Labati’s expression changes when referring to freshman point guard Yalonda McCormick that lets you know it’s more than just talk.

`She is definitely one of the premier point guards in the nation,’ Labati said of McCormick during UM’s media day Tuesday. The regular season kicks off with a Nov. 18 game at home against Iona.

`After three days, she’s our leading point guard.’

Three days. That’s how many practices it has taken for Labati to realize how strong an asset the 5-8 McCormick is.

As a senior at Monsignor Pace in Miami last year, McCormick averaged 21.5 points, 10.5 assists and 8.0 rebounds. She led the Spartans to a 26-2 record and a state Final Four appearance. One recruiting service rated her the fifth best prep point guard in the country.

McCormick’s up-tempo style of play is what Labati is seeking as she looks to open things up on offense this season, allowing her players to push the ball more. Labati believes her personnel is more suited to a faster game, and McCormick likes the sound of that.

`I’m used to that style,’ McCormick said. `That’s the way I play. I think I’m good at that.’

Ideally, no coach wants to entrust the starting point guard position to a freshman. But McCormick is making progress quickly.

`We’re working hard with her,’ Labati said. `Every day is a learning situation.’

McCormick said the most difficult adjustment to the college game has been the speed and the intensity of the defense. But one thing Labati need not be concerned about is McCormick’s confidence.

`There’s going to be some nervousness, I’m sure,’ McCormick said. `But I want to take advantage of this. This is what I’ve always wanted.’

BY STEPHEN F. HOLDERMiami Herald