Thursday, March 11, 1999
Former Hawaii prepBy Pat Bigold
star Erin Stovall helped the
Cavs get into NCAA
Baseline to baseline, Iolani alumna Erin Stovall is the fastest woman in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"No one can catch her," said Stovall's Virginia teammate, 6-foot-3 power forward DeMya Walker.
Walker, the team's leading scorer (15.1 ppg) and rebounder (8.6 rpg), has a quick answer when you ask what her favorite play is.
"To rebound and just chuck it to Erin," she said. Seems it's kind of fun to watch her jetstream.
But Stovall said it was by controlling her gift of speed that she managed to become nationally ranked Virginia's second leading scorer (14.6 ppg) in only her sophomore season, and break into the top 10 in four different ACC statistical categories.
No longer does the 5-9 shooting guard, who set state track meet records here two years ago, overrun the ball.
Last year, teams detected that she liked to steam for the hoop whenever she led a break, and so they started to pick up some easy charge calls.
"So I don't always take it all the way in anymore," said Stovall, who still wants to run collegiate track. "Sometimes, I'll just pull up and shoot a jumper. When I went in there with the big trees, I was a little out of my game. I didn't have as much control. My dad said to pull up."
Walker said that as a result, Stovall has developed into a more complete player -- a more dangerous player.
In Virginia's 16 ACC games alone, she actually led the team in scoring average (16.2).
Scored more than 20 points in five games. Had four highest scoring games of season for Cavaliers, including a career-high 27 points against Georgia Tech.
Led Cavaliers in scoring 10 times, tied for the team lead.
Cavs' second-leading scorer with 14.6 ppg average.
Broke Virginia sophomore record for 3-pointers with 44.
Already eighth in school history with 76 3-pointers.
Ranked in the top 10 in four ACC categories: scoring, steals, free throws, 3-point average.
"You can't play off her because she'll shoot the 3 on you," Walker said. She has a point there. Stovall set the Virginia sophomore record for treys with 44 this season.
She is already eighth on the all-time Virginia list with 76 treys.
"And you can't play on her because she'll blow by you," said Walker.
Stovall and the No. 9 seed Cavaliers (20-8) will open play in the NCAA Women's Tournament West regional tomorrow evening in Ruston, La., facing No. 8 seed Penn State (21-7).
It will be Virginia's 16th straight appearance in the Big Dance and Stovall's second.
Last year, Virginia was a No. 6 seed, losing in the second round to Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., after Stovall scored a then-career-high 19 points in a first-round victory over Southern Methodist.
Stovall and live-in boyfriend, Antonio Dingle, a defensive tackle for the Cavs' football team, keep two Burmese pythons and a red-tail boa constrictor in their townhouse in Charlottesville, Va.
Her favorite is a female python she named "Felicity." "She's the sweetest thing," said Stovall.
It's somewhat staggering that this charismatic young woman with the perpetual smile can love a serpent known in the wild to coil around victims and slowly suffocate them.
But it could be that the python symbolizes the stranglehold Stovall is gradually taking on the ACC.
"She had a terrific year," said Virginia coach Debbie Ryan, who picked up her 500th career win this season. "She's arrived."
Ryan said Stovall carried Virginia a number of times.
She tied Walker by leading the team in scoring 10 times.
She had the four highest scoring games on the Virginia squad this season: a career-high 27 points at Georgia Tech on Feb. 18; 26 against Clemson on Jan. 2; 25 against Duke on Jan. 4, and 24 against North Carolina on Jan. 18.
Not that Ryan thinks Stovall has it all yet. "I'd like to see her be a better passer," she said.
Ryan, who started Stovall 13 times as a freshman and 20 times as a sophomore, said she is sure of one thing. The 19-year-old hardwood flash will be Virginia's team leader next season.
"I don't know if I am ready to lead, but I guess it comes with the territory,'' said Stovall. "I am not a vocal person like Mo (senior Monick Foote) or DeMya, so I will have to lead by my actions."
Walker said Stovall's actions speak much louder than words anyway.
"No one can stop her one-on-one without fouling her," said Walker. "And you can always rely on her. She'll knock down the big shot when you need it."
Stovall sank 85 percent of her free throw attempts in ACC play.
Defensively, Stovall is also one of the ACC's best pickpockets, ranking seventh in steals.
And even though Stovall does not take it in all the time any more, that doesn't mean she is any less willing to mix it up when she sees fit to drive.
"The girl just flies in there," said Walker. "Sometimes she lands on her head, sometimes on her butt and sometimes on her back. But she takes it and comes up ticking. The word for her is resilient."
Even though her mind is on Penn State and their quick guard, Helen Darling, Stovall was daydreaming about Hawaii.
"I can't wait to be there next season," she said.
Stovall will be in Honolulu right after Thanksgiving for the Wahine Basketball Classic and a reunion with younger brother, Tre', who hopes to earn a walk-on berth with Riley Wallace's men's team.
"I tell somebody about it every day," she said.