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February 27, 2005

by Cathy Bongiovi Stewart

Senior LaTonya Blue has been looking at her watch. Her time at the University of Virginia is almost over, and she still has some things on her “to do” list. But there is still time to achieve.

“Of course I want to get to the (NCAA) tournament and get past the first and second rounds,” Blue shared. “I want to feel that Sweet 16/Elite 8 feeling. I’ve talked to Kate (Kreager) about it from when she was at Xavier. She said there’s nothing like it. I want to get there. I’m not content. I feel we could have done better at some things my four years, but I just want to experience that feeling.”

With the addition of freshman point guard Sharnee Zoll this season, Blue’s returned to the wing position. Now she’s relied upon for increased scoring.

“I feel the same, but the pressure’s off because we have Sharnee,” Blue said. “Sharnee’s a true point guard, and I’m more of a wing combo. It was hard to adjust at first, but I felt I needed to move to the wing to help my team. I continued to work out last summer and tried to get better. I think it was all for the better of the team.”

Blue has blossomed as a senior. The MVP of the Marriott Cavalier Classic and a two-time ACC Player of the Week, she leads UVa in scoring with 12.5 points per game and 15.4 ppg in ACC contests alone.

“She knows she’s our go-to player, I mean she’s my hero,” said freshman Takisha Granberry. “We just told her to do what she needs to do to win. We’ve got her back.”

“She’s just a player that we obviously can’t play without,” said head coach Debbie Ryan. “She can do everything.”

Opponent coaches agree.

“Blue made a big difference,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said following UVa’s 63-60 upset of the No. 20/21 Terrapins last week. “She put the team on her back. She’s extremely versatile.”

The 5-11 guard/forward from Baltimore, Md., also added another honor this season- team captain.

“It means a lot. For four years it’s been up and down for me- getting used to things. It’s so different than high school when I first came in. Just adapting to college life was hard for the first three years,” Blue said.

Actually, Blue has had to adjust throughout her life. Raised by her father and her grandparents Annie and Buster, Blue has relied upon her family’s support.

“They’ve been there since day one. I’ve lived with them since I was six months old,” Blue shared. “Whatever I wanted to do- anything- they said `try it.’ They never said, `no, I don’t want you to do this, and I don’t think you should do that.’ Whatever I wanted to do from taking karate to playing saxophone, piano, basketball, baseball, they said if I liked it to try it. If not, you don’t have to do it.”

Her grandparents continued to nurture and care for her following her father’s death.

“He passed when I was 13, and they just continued (to raise me) as well as my aunts,” Blue said. “My aunts- Christine, Stephanie, Cora, Vanessa- they’ve been like my mothers.”

Luckily, playing in the ACC, Blue has played before her home state crowd each year. But the senior finds those games particularly stressful.

“It’s nerve-wracking, because your family and friends all the way back from middle school and high school are there,” Blue said. “Everyone expects you to do so well and play great. It’s real nerve-wracking.”

With her family cheering her on, Blue is ready for the post-season opportunities.

“Take advantage of your opportunity. It goes by so fast,” Blue said. “I came in thinking I had time to turn things around. It was always `next year I’m going to do this.’ Now it’s fourth year. Maybe five or six more games.

“My fourth year came by so fast, and I realized I had to step up if we want to get to the NCAA Tournament and be successful.”

The anthropology major is set to graduate in May, but her future plans are undetermined.

“I would like to play on the professional level,” Blue said. “If the opportunity is there, then I’ll take it. We’ll see.”

Get to Know LaTonya


Food: grandfather’s cookingIce cream: chocolateMovie: Medea Family ReunionActor: Mos DefActress: Sanaa LathanCD: Waiting to ExhaleSpot on Grounds: my apartment

My favorite opponent is …
NC State

Three words that best describe me are …
humble, ambitious, stubborn.

My advice to young athletes is …
hard work pays off.

The people I most admire are …
my grandparents, because they managedto raise me along with their own children.

One thing I always pack for road trips is …
my headphones.

I admire Debbie Ryan, because …
she’s dedicated.

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