James leads inexperienced Hurricanes to ACC play

The most recognizable name on the young women’s basketball roster for the inaugural ACC season just happens to be young herself.

As a junior, Tamara James has had nothing but success in her college career, including being the only freshman in Big East Conference history to lead the league in scoring. In fact, James has been the team leader in scoring both years for Miami and will start the 2004-2005 with 1,114 career points.

James’ start in basketball stems from her father. When at a young age, James would watch her dad play.

“He used to take me to his league games so that’s where I fell in love with the game,” she said.

James’s love for the game would carry on with the high school basketball program at South Broward, which she led to three consecutive state titles in Lakeland. Named Florida Player of the Year in 2002, she played in the McDonald’s High School All-American game and was named Scholar Athlete of the Year, earning a 4.0 grade point average.

James’ hectic student-athlete schedule starts when she wakes up at 6 a.m. each day for weights, class, studying and practice. The ‘Canes start their 2004-2005 campaign on a six-game road trip to Fairfax, Conn., and Brooklyn, N.Y., which will leave plenty of time for homework and studying.

With her academic accomplishments from high school and during her time at UM so far, James cannot be labeled as an athlete who puts the game before her studies. As a player on the court, she isn’t one to be flashy. When it comes to close game situations, she attacks head on.

“I like close games. They keep you playing honest unlike when you’re getting blown out and get discouraged. Or if you are blowing someone else out and you start getting fancy, close games keep you honest,” she said.

When it comes to UM, one sport stands out in general besides basketball. When there isn’t a conflict with her team, James likes to join 80,000 plus fanatics who pack the Orange Bowl to watch the football team, one of her favorite events as a student and fan.

Besides the football home games, there is one event marked on James’s calendar that means so much more. That date is Feb. 17, when the Maryland Terrapins roll into the Convocation Center for their rematch from last year’s first round of the NCAA tournament in the West Regional, where Maryland defeated Miami 86-85. The February match-up will be the only time the ‘Terps and the ‘Canes will meet in the regular season.

When 2006 comes around and it is time for James to graduate, she’ll leave with a degree in Theater and hopes for a career in the WNBA.

“I’d love to play in the WNBA, but after that I want to get into television and movies,” she said. As for now, James’s stage is the Convocation Center with cast members like senior Yolanda McCormick and Head Coach Ferne Labati and the goal: an NCAA title.

Rodolfo Tomarchio can be contacted at r.tomarchio@umiami.edu.