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The Daily Tar Heel

Brown Shines as Tar Heels' New Leader

Now at the midpoint of the ACC season as UNC (10-7, 4-3 in the ACC) hosts No. 4 Duke (18-1, 6-1) at 7 p.m. tonight at Carmichael Auditorium, sophomore Coretta Brown has provided at least one emphatic answer: She runs this team now.

During Teasley's seven-game absence in January, Brown took control as point guard and struggled along with her teammates.

North Carolina managed only one win in those seven game, and Brown contributed no assists in two of those contests.

Brown averaged 16.5 minutes while turning out 4.1 points a contest in her freshman year. She also chipped in 1.7 assists per game.

When Teasley, the team's starting point guard for three seasons, announced that she was taking the

2000-01 school year off, Brown's role increased by leaps and bounds.

"I've had to learn a lot, but I feel comfortable with the position now," Brown said before this season officially got underway.

"I think everything will be OK."

Brown has certainly held up her end of the bargain.

The sophomore has shined with her ACC-leading 6.5 assists per game. She also is contributed 17.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest.

Brown earned her first career double-doubles this year against Winthrop and North Carolina A&T.

"I think Coretta's done an excellent job of stepping up," Teasley said after North Carolina defeated N.C. State

83-77.

"I know a lot of people didn't expect her to do as well as she's doing because she was stepping in the limelight and filling my shoes," Teasley said. "I think she's done a great job so far and proven everyone wrong."

In the 1999-2000 season, Teasley averaged 6.2 assists last year along with 14.6 points per game. She pulled down four boards a game.

Brown broke Teasley's single-game assists record on Nov. 21 with 16 against North Carolina A&T. Teasley's record of 15 had been set against Georgia Tech on Jan. 24, 1999.

"I'm definitely more confident now," Brown said. "I think I'm more of an offensive threat than I was at the beginning of the season. If I can get that defense down, I think I'll be OK."

Her offense is more than OK and she's also established herself as a go-to player on a North Carolina squad that features the ACC's leading scorer and rebounder in senior forward LaQuanda Barksdale.

With the Tar Heels trailing N.C. State 70-71 in the waning moments of regulation on Jan. 14, Brown got the call to take the game winning shot in the UNC huddle during a timeout.

She responded by draining a tough jumper in the lane with six seconds remaining.

Although the game took an overtime period to decide, the message was loud and clear.

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This isn't Nikki's team anymore; it's Coretta's.

"The way she's playing, we want her to take that shot," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "It's hard to guard her one-on-one. Coretta's doing a wonderful job."

With Brown running the show, the Tar Heels have become more of a slashing team and own the conference's highest-scoring offense netting 76.9 points a game.

"I think we look to drive more this year than we did last year," Brown said. "We look to drive and kick, and I think that's the only thing that's different from last year: the driving."

For now, Brown has UNC driving neck-and-neck with Virginia for third place in the ACC, a game behind Clemson.

Next season an even more matured Brown will team up with Teasley to create a potent backcourt. But this year, Coretta's got the spotlight.

"I'm so happy for Coretta right now," Teasley said. "I knew she had it in her, and I'm glad it's her time to shine."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.