Her teammates call her “Franchise.”
Candice Dupree is the centerpiece of the women’s basketball team. She plays a major role in the offensive scheme and, as the tallest player on the floor for the Owls, contributes with rebounds and blocked shots on a regular basis.
Dupree, a sophomore center, scored a team-high 14 points in a 68-46 win over the East Tennessee State Bucs last week. She made seven of 10 shots and added five rebounds and three blocks. Her performance earned her The Temple News Athlete of the Week.
The big win exemplified the importance of how working the ball inside to the paint can lead to success.
“Things went a lot smoother when the ball got into the post,” Dupree said. “If it doesn’t, then they usually take shots immediately and we don’t run the offense.”
The win over the Bucs last Friday put the Owls at 2-1 on the season. They opened the season participating in the Spartan Classic at Michigan State, where the Owls defeated Florida International in overtime, 81-76, but lost to the host Spartans, 78-40, in the championship game. Dupree’s 23 points on 11 of 14 shooting against FIU earned her a spot on the All-Tournament team.
She has averaged 15 points per game in the Owls’ first three games of the season.
Dupree was also impressive her freshman season. She started in all 18 games in which she appeared, led the team in rebounds with 7.6 per contest and was second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.4 points per game. Unfortunately she was forced to sit out the final 11 games of the season after suffering a foot injury.
Toni Belafonte, a senior guard/forward, has been impressed with Dupree’s effort.
“Candice is great,” Belafonte said. “She’s come a long way. She’s being really aggressive getting to the basket and she’s giving us a big push on offense.”
On a team full of talented guards and forwards, Dupree provides the Owls with an essential inside presence. But at 6-foot-2 she doesn’t exactly tower over her opponents. In fact, most of the other Atlantic Ten Conference teams have a taller player guarding her.
However, having a height disadvantage doesn’t rattle the Tampa, Fla. native. Dupree said going up against bigger players is nothing out of the ordinary, but she felt in her last game she could have pulled down more rebounds.
She is respected by her coach and teammates and her humble attitude is testimony for calling her a “team player,” something rarely seen in young players.
Coach Dawn Staley has been pleased with Dupree’s early season performance.
“Candice is turning into the player we expected her to be last year,” Staley said. “I think we got an All-American candidate on our hands.”
Charles Peach can be reached at email@example.com.