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The Daily Tar Heel

Breland post players replace UNC's departed frontcourt

Jessica Breland and UNC?s other three post players excelled this weekend" scoring a combined 29 points Friday and 27 points Sunday.

North Carolina women's basketball forward Jessica Breland held her position in the post as she yelled for the ball.

As the Tar Heel perimeter players swung the ball around the top of the key Breland continued to shuffle her feet until she arrived just outside the lane. She again demanded a pass until the ball came to her hands.

Immediately she feinted once to either side and calmly pulled away for a fade-away jumper as a VCU player crashed into her. The ball swished through the net giving North Carolina a 4-1 lead.

It was an insignificant play in what would be a 77-65 Tar Heel victory against VCU but with North Carolina now two games into the season it showed something else.

The post presence for the Tar Heels might not be such a big problem.

That was the biggest preseason question posed to the Tar Heels and rightly so as North Carolina entered the season without recently graduated forwards Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle — UNC's starting frontcourt in 2007-08.

But in two victories this weekend against Western Carolina and Virginia Commonwealth University Breland Martina Wood" Chay Shegog and Iman McFarland proved they could do a favorable impression of the recently departed Tar Heel greats.

""That group is going to get a lot better. They just got to get some experience" coach Sylvia Hatchell said. Last year with Erlana and LaToya we just throw it in there to them all the time. This year we're more balanced" I think. We got a lot of good things to work with.""

As point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid dribbles up the court" one frontcourt player almost certainly cut across the lane and posted up her defender. The other served as an outlet passer with the roles alternating throughout the game.

On most possessions Tar Heel guards looked for one of these two players almost directly after crossing halfcourt. If the opposition converged after a pass inside the forward instantly kicked out for an open 3-point shot.

When WCU or VCU played straight man-to-man defense" each used an array of moves to create space for her own shot.

""We were moving the ball in our motion offense. We were reversing the ball and getting some good looks. At times it's just clicking and flowing"" Hatchell said.

Breland was the main benefactor of this system. Friday she accounted for 12 points and on Sunday chipped in for 10 more.

In each game, she was able to use a variety of shoulder fakes and pumps to clear room for easy buckets. Additionally, her 6-foot-3-inch height and wingspan allowed for easy ascension over the arms of smaller opponents.

Her play left Hatchell impressed and gave hope to the Tar Heels' expectations of continuing their success in the post.

It just shows you how much potential we have" senior forward Rashanda McCants said. We work real hard in practice" and coach Hatchell doesn't stop pushing us and letting us know that we're not great yet.

""We can't come short of that goal of being a great team. It's exciting to know that we can get a lot better.""

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