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Ataira Franklin, a freshman on the women’s basketball team and a native of Bowie, Md., recently checked in with to discuss the 2010-11 season so far. Franklin and the Cavaliers are on a break from competition for exams, but return to action on Saturday, Dec. 18, vs. UMBC at John Paul Jones Arena.

Question: How did it feel to make your first college start Saturday night against Drexel?
It was exciting, but I was a little nervous. I just knew I had to go out there and play defense, and I knew I would be fine once I got into the flow of the game and got loose. I had a good warm-up, and it was exciting to get that opportunity.

Question: How would you describe the season thus far?
I would say that we are doing everything we can to prepare to be the best. Coach Ryan always stresses to us that we are striving for perfection. Everyday in practice we are trying to take more steps in that direction. In some our of games, we have our lapses. Basketball is a game of runs. But I think we are going to get there; we are on our way.

Question: What are the team’s biggest strengths and weaknesses right now?
Our biggest strength is getting the ball inside. When we can get the ball inside we are a very dominant team because we can go inside or out. We have Lexie, Kelsey and Whitny who can all shoot the three. One of our weaknesses is communication, even though we are a very tight team. We don’t always talk as much on the court as we should. That is something we will get better at.

Question: How have classes been? Do you have a favorite?
I plan on majoring in studio art, so I have really enjoyed my art classes. Over the summer I had an intro to drawing class and right now I have a similar class that is a prereq for photography.

Question: Why did you choose to come to UVa?
Just the whole environment. You want to pick somewhere that you are comfortable with because you are going to be living there for four years. It’s not too far from home – two and a half hours. Really it was just the family environment for me.

Question: What has the transition been like for you from high school to college ball?
It’s been tough. The way I see it, you can run and lift weights as much as you want coming in to the program but until Coach Ryan, Coach Taylor, Coach Palmer and Coach Elderkin, and Ed our strength coach, until they show you how to be an ACC-level player, you can’t really prepare yourself for it.

Question: Is there anything special about why you wear No. 23?
Actually, my number has been 25 ever since I have played. I remember taking a tour and seeing No. 25 was retired when we went to the basketball hall of fame in JPJ. I didn’t know what I was going to do! I had such an attachment to my number. Everyone called me “two five.” But I have reestablished myself with No. 23. It’s a new beginning.

Question: How did you get started playing basketball?
It’s a weird story because I come from a basketball and track-oriented family. But I refused and wanted to play the piano. I didn’t want anything to do with sports; I didn’t want to sweat. But eventually, I gave in. My mom and dad and brother all played. I never took piano lessons. Maybe one day!

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