Move Over Candace

By Jeff Lippman - October 11, 2007


Florida - my alma mater - is definitely a school known for its athletes. The men's basketball team and the football team are coming off three total championships and the rest of the athletic programs are no slouches either.

Except for the women's basketball team. The Lady Gators have been disappointments for some time now, failing to improve when heralded coach Carolyn Peck was in charge and ultimately firing Peck in favor of Amanda Butler, who just finished her first media day with the Gators Wednesday.

In my opinion, Florida is on its way up, back to SEC respectability and in the market to finally achieve what the program set out to achieve nearly five years ago, winning - or at least competing - for an SEC title.

While competing in the SEC will take some time for an extremely young team and an even younger coach, there is one player on the Gators who with one play could immediately bring respect back to the O'Connell Center.

Aneika Henry, an athletic 6-foot-3 post player from Jamaica never picked up a basketball until the 9th grade. And she didn't play for her High School, Coral Gables Senior High in Coral Gables, Fla., until her senior season.

This will be Henry's first year with the Gators, as she attended Seminole Community College located around central Florida. She still has much development left in her game and is the definition of a raw talent. But Butler is extremely excited about one single aspect of her game that could get the Gator women front and center on highlight shows across the nation.

Aneika Henry can dunk.

And not just dunk, but dunk in the flow of the offense, like Tennessee's Candace Parker. While there have been five women's players - including Parker - who have dunked in a game, all but the Lady Vols' star did it on breakaways, ahead of the pack, with no defender in sight. Parker has done it while running through traffic in the lane. And Butler hopes Henry can do the very same thing.

"That's something that's new for me to coach," Butler said, taken from a Palm Beach Post article by Andy Staples. "I'm going to have to sit with Billy [Donovan] and draw up some new drills and some new plays. But I'm going to tell you what, if we have the opportunity to do it, we're going to do it."

Right now, if any casual fan of women's basketball ever thinks of Florida, they think of a losing team. And while Henry won't be the main focus for the Gator offense this season, she can go a long way to changing that perception with just one hop, one skip and one jump.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 03:31 PM on October 11, 2007
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Comments

Psst. That's a Tampa Tribune article.

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