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Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

Freshman Ervin has lofty expectations

Touted newcomer sets goal of being All-American in first season at Kansas

November 1, 2003

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Lauren Ervin has set the bar high for her first year as a Kansas University basketball player.

"I want to try to make it to be a freshman All-American," Ervin said.

It wouldn't be the first time the words "All-American" have appeared in the same sentence with her name.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Inglewood, Calif., comes to KU as one of the most decorated newcomers in the program's history. She was a McDonald's All-American, AAU All-American, WBCA All-American, Nike All-American and second-team Parade All-American.

"Lauren can be as good as she decides to be," KU coach Marian Washington said. "She has great size. She has a natural nose for the game. She can handle the ball with her size, so she will be able to help bring the ball up the floor from time to time. She has nice touch."

And, yes, Washington thinks Ervin can push the envelope to the top.

"She is a typical freshman with butterflies, but I think she's capable of being another All-American for Kansas," Washington said.

That's putting a lot of pressure on someone who has played just four college exhibition games so far, but Ervin said she liked the lofty expectations. In fact, she said she demanded as much from herself.

"I haven't really set how many points per game I should average," she said. "I just think every day I need to practice like it's my last practice and play like it's my last game, and I think I will be successful doing that with the help of my teammates pushing me."

Ervin averaged 24 points and 18 rebounds as a senior at Inglewood High. She caught the eye of six-time national champion Tennessee, but chose Kansas.

The transition from high school to college has been smooth, Ervin said, citing time management as her biggest weakness. Early morning weights and conditioning drills have been the hardest part.

Pick-up games were difficult, too. Sophomore forwards Crystal Kemp and Tamara Ransburg are more physical than other opponents she has faced, and she calls junior transfer Kandis Bonner the toughest player she ever has guarded.

"I'm the one who's used to blocking shots," Ervin said, "and they've blocked my shots a couple of times when we've played pick-up. I haven't got her back yet, but I've been trying to."

Kemp said Ervin would get them all back in time, and said she expected Ervin would live up to the hype.

"I don't see any obstacles for her," Kemp said. "It's just all up to her how good she becomes.

"I know she wants it and she plays like she wants it. It's just a matter of putting it together."

KU fans will get their first opportunity to see Ervin and the Jayhawks in their exhibition opener against Sparta Praha Nov. 10 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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