Sunday, May 25, 2003

Lady Surge land McDonald's star


College update

rernst.jpg
The numbers Gary McDaniel has generated in his 10 years as Cincinnati State women's basketball coach speak for themselves - nine National Junior College Athletic Association All-Americans, more than 30 players who have gone on to four-year universities, three Sweet 16 appearances and a 159-42 record in the past five years.

In junior-college circles, he is known for recruiting, succeeding and graduating extremely good players.

Recently, he landed a great player.

A year ago, Janice Bright was on top of the girls prep basketball world. She was the top player on the best team in the nation - Los Angeles Lynwood High was 33-0 and finished the season ranked No. 1 in USA Today and Student Sports Magazine - and she was a McDonald's All-American. The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals a game. She was ranked as high as 11th nationally by recruiting services.

After signing with the University of Nebraska, her future looked, well, bright.

These days Bright spends most of her time on a campus she had never seen before she committed the next two years of her life to it. She lives with other players in an apartment complex a 30-minute walk from her 9 a.m. classes. She spends a lot of time in the gym. Some things never change.

"If you're a true hooper, you want to be out there playing," she said. "Basketball is something I see myself doing in the future. It's been hard, but I've dealt with things, and now I'm in school and don't have to worry."

It's a long way from L.A. The story on how Bright ended up here, however, is pretty short, and to McDaniel's amazement, pretty simple.

After failing to meet academic eligibility requirements at Nebraska, Bright could not enroll at the school for her first semester because of Big 12 Conference rules. She could start school the following January if she could attain partial-qualifier status, but she still wouldn't be allowed to play until the 2003-04 season. The coaching staff that recruited her had left the school, compounding her decision to go elsewhere.

One of the coaches who left was assistant Michelle Clark, now an assistant at the University of Cincinnati. Bright said she became interested in attending UC. But first she needed to attend a junior college to become eligible for a four-year school.

"(Clark) brought a few junior colleges to my attention," Bright said. "One of them was Cincinnati State, and I said if Coach McDaniel would have me, I would go there."

Around the time of the women's Division I Final Four this year, UC head coach Laurie Pirtle, who is unable to talk about Bright because she is still considered a potential recruit, tipped off McDaniel about the unsigned talent, of whom he had heard.

"I had seen her in publications," he said. "I would look at it and grin and say, 'Wow, that would be great.' "

The possibility quickly became a reality after McDaniel got Bright on the phone.

"She (orally committed) to me over the phone," he said. "She said she wanted to come as soon as possible. The term was about to begin. We signed her, flew her in and got her matriculated, and the rest is all smiles and good fortune here at Cincinnati State."

Add to the fact McDaniel already had a strong recruiting class, and it looks like the Surge's good fortune could last another two years.

"I haven't seen what other junior colleges have done, but we have to have a top-10 class," he said. "It would be impossible for us not to."

Others

• Notre Dame second baseman Steve Sollmann, a St. Xavier alum, recently became the first person in Big East history to be named the conference player of the week three times in the same season.

• La Salle graduate Derrick Butler won the Big Ten Championship for Ohio State in the 10,000-meter run.

• Winton Woods graduate Jay Tilton, a golfer at Ohio Wesleyan, finished this season as the North Coast Athletic Conference medalist and a Division III All-America honorable mention.

• Georgetown College softball players and Amelia graduates Crissy Rapp and Traci Combs were selected to the Mid-South Conference first team.

• Northern Kentucky third baseman Josh Perkins was named to the All-North Central Region.

• Indian Hill product Amy Miller, a lacrosse player at Ohio Wesleyan, was named an All-NCAC honorable mention.

• Amelia graduate Andrea Morgan, running track at Findlay, had the nation's top Division II time in the 800 meters (2:04.36) heading into nationals.

• Three players from the Thomas More NCAA Division III regional finalist baseball team made the All-Mideast Region team. Fred Riess (Oak Hills) was a first-team selection; Noah Welte made the second team; and Dan Buchwald (Oak Hills) made the third team. Mount St. Joseph players Mark Sheppard (Roger Bacon) and Ryan Desjardins (Colerain) made the first and third teams, respectively. Sheppard was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-American Team and was the the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

• Mount St. Joseph baseball players Donny Nagel (La Salle), Ben Miller

(Elder) and Sam Merkle (Roger Bacon) joined Sheppard and Desjardins on the all-conference first team. Dennis McRoberts (Fairfield) and Kyle Shadley-White (McNicholas) made the second team for the Mount, while Lions teammate Dave Novosel (Colerain) was an honorable mention selection.

• Wilmington pole vaulter Kyle Wolfe (Anderson) is ranked third in the nation in Division III heading into the national championships.

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E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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