Smooth transition for Davis Quick start: Former St. Mary's High star has stepped right in for the Syracuse University basekball team in her freshman season.

February 02, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University freshman forward Annetta Davis grew up an Air Force brat.

She bounced around from St. Louis to Germany to Korea to Glen Burnie making new friends, adjusting to new schools and all the while honing her basketball ability.

So, when it came time to move from the classrooms of St. Mary's High School in Annapolis to the dorms of Syracuse, Davis had a world of experience to draw upon.

"She was ready for this," Syracuse women's basketball coach Marianna Freeman said. "She's been all around the world. She has the type of personality that makes moving from place to place very easy to do. She's adjusted to the college game well.

'My problem is finding enough time for her on the floor, because she's a great player," said Freeman. "She's got faith in me. She's hanging. She's doing well in school."

Like all freshmen, Davis did stumble a bit at first.

She had to learn to budget her responsibilities by completing assignments well ahead of time, studying around a busy athletic schedule and finding a way to get her hands on the team's portable computer to finish her classwork on the road.

Central New York's dearth of quality seafood and tundra-like conditions didn't help much either.

But going into her second semester at Syracuse, the three-time Sun All-Metro selection feels as at home inside Manley Field House as she did in her old high school gym.

"I struggled a little bit," Davis said. "It probably took me half of the first semester to get in the flow. As soon as the season started, you have to work hard to get to practice and finish your school work. It was kind of hard in the beginning, but now everything's cool."

There was one thing the criminal psychology major wasn't ready for -- the dreaded 2-mile run.

After speaking with some friends who play for Georgetown and the University of Connecticut, Davis, the leading scorer and rebounder in St. Mary's history, discovered how intense preseason training would be.

There were some fearful calls home and some fretting, but when the season rolled around, Davis had set team records for strength and conditioning.

Another hurdle cleared.

"Long-distance running was something she hadn't done a lot of," Freeman said. "The first time she did it, she just thought she was going to die, but she made it. When the running got tough she called home and her mother said, 'Hon, this is what you wanted. This is your dream. Suck it up and make the best of it.' I knew we had the right one then."

There have been no such problems on the court. Davis (5 feet 11) is leading the team by shooting 68 percent from the field. She has seen action in 16 of 18 games, averaging about seven minutes per contest, with 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Davis pulled down 12 rebounds in her first collegiate game, against Holy Cross, grabbing eight straight boards in one stretch.

Two games later, she went for nine points, six rebounds and three steals against Canisius and on Dec. 6, Davis earned her first start at Vermont.

A month later, she was part of one of the most stunning upsets of the year, as the Orangewomen (9-9) topped UConn, the defending national champions.

"I wasn't nervous at all in my first game," Davis said. "I figured I'm just as good as they are. I'm just coming out here to play and do the best that I can. Division I basketball is intense. You're not the best player on the team anymore and it's very competitive.

"Everyone is a great player. I never came in here thinking I was going to start. It felt good to start, but as long as I can come on the court at some time and contribute I'll be happy."

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