February 3, 2010 2:45:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Catina Bett will have to wait a little longer for her second chance.
In the meantime, the transfer from the University of Kentucky continues to get herself back into shape, to build relationships with her new teammates, and to get to know Mississippi State women''s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.
Bett, a 6-foot-5 post player, enrolled at MSU in December and was cleared to join the team in January. She will practice with the Lady Bulldogs while she waits to become an official member of the team in the second semester of the 2010-11 season.
Until then, Bett will do her best to become the kind of player she knows she can be.
"I am a dominant post player. I like to bang," Bett said. "I am trying to get back into shape. That''s a hard thing, but the skills never leave. They are coming back gradually."
Bett, who is from Gadsden, Ala., played in 41 games in two years at Kentucky from 2007-09. She averaged 2.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.6 blocked shots a game before being suspended during the 2008-09 season for "violating team rules."
Bett said Tuesday her suspension and ultimate dismissal from Kentucky on March 24, 2009, for "violating team rules" was not true, and she transferred from the school because things weren''t working out with coach Matthew Mitchell.
Bett said MSU recruited her out of high school and that she still was in Kentucky when one thing led to another to start the process to become a Lady Bulldog.
MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis is excited to have Bett in the program and expects her to play a key role next season to help the program make up for the loss of eight seniors from the 2009-10 team.
"Catina is a player a lot of the Southeastern Conference schools recruited out of high school," Fanning-Otis said. "She is a player we were familiar with through AAU and high school. She had an opportunity to come to Mississippi State, and her eligibility should begin at the end of exams next December. That''s what we''re working toward."
While at Gadsden City High School, Bett was named the 2007 girls basketball 6A Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, averaging 15.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.0 blocked shots, and 2.0 assists per game. She helped her squad to a 25-8 record and a Class 6A state runner-up title. Bett started in all 33 games and was voted Most Valuable Player of the Northeast Regional, All-Area Tournament and the state Final Four.
Bett was selected Second-Team All-State in Class 5A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association and ranked as one of the nation''s top 50 players by All-Star Girls Report, a national recruiting service.
She arrived at Kentucky with Victoria Dunlap, Carly Morrow, and Amber Smith, a recruiting class that All-Star Girls Report rated a top-10 group.
"We expect her size and mobility to help us in the paint," Fanning-Otis said. "She is well aware of the communication that has to take place and the terminology and some things that will help her adjust to do what we do pretty quickly."
Bett thanked her teammates and Fanning-Otis for helping to make her feel at home. She said the adjustment hasn''t been difficult and that she is anxious to start to live up to the expectations Fanning-Otis and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs have for her.
"This is a second opportunity to start over and do something I love to do," Bett said. "Even though I am new here I am kind of considered a veteran on the court, and they''re expecting me to be a leader and to do my part on and off the court."
n NOTE: Fanning-Otis said senior forward Tysheka Grimes was expected to return to practice Tuesday. Grimes was a key contributor for the Lady Bulldogs up until the start of Southeastern Conference play, but a foot injury has forced Grimes to miss the last nine games. Fanning-Otis hopes to have Grimes back for the team''s game at 8 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU) against Alabama at Humphrey Coliseum. "We''re excited she has the opportunity to come back with us," Fanning-Otis said. "I think she was chomping at the bit the other day." Grimes is third on the team in scoring (11.5 points) and first in rebounding (7.0) in 13 games.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.