Fatima Maddox came to Temple in search of a fresh start to her basketball career. The sophomore guard will get her second chance, but not until next January.
Maddox transferred to Temple from New Mexico in early December. She quit the team eight games into the season after falling out of the starting lineup. Per NCAA rules, she is not eligible to play again until January 2006.
Shortly after her departure from the Lobos, Maddox told New Mexico media and the state’s NAACP board she believed New Mexico coach Don Flanagan gave preferential treatment to his white players. Until her abrupt exit, Maddox was one of five black players on the team, all underclassmen.
Flanagan was unavailable for comment. His administrative assistant, Nora Steltzer, spoke on the coach’s behalf.
“My understanding is that it’s a dead issue and he is not available,” his administrative assistant, Nora Steltzer, said.
When asked about her transfer from New Mexico, Maddox initially declined comment. She agreed to comment only after discussing the new opportunities coach Dawn Staley has allowed her.
“I’m trying to get adjusted,” Maddox said. “There’s a good feeling here. Coming onto a team that is playing this good, the expectations are going to be high. I want to help as much as I can.”
Maddox is currently practicing with the Owls. Staley has Maddox playing defense against the starters, among other duties. The coaching staff has used Maddox in preparatory drills, in which she runs the opposition’s plays. She is practicing at the point guard position.
Although Maddox won’t see time in an actual game until midway through next season, Staley and her players said they have already accepted her to the squad. Staley said Maddox’s most promising attribute is her Division I experience.
Maddox provided a spark off the bench in her freshman year at New Mexico, when the Lobos won the Mountain West Conference Championship. She even has NCAA tournament experience to her credit.
“She’s not a freshman and she’s not a junior college transfer. She’s been there before,” Staley said of Maddox’s postseason experience. “That means a lot to us. But right now, we’re just trying to get her feet wet.”
Senior point guard Cynthia Jordan said Maddox has a dangerous quickness. Jordan said she likes what she has seen from Maddox thus far and said Maddox is the type of player that will instantly contribute next season.
“She’s going to be a great player here when she gets her chances next season,” Jordan said. “But for now, she provides an instant competitiveness and a hunger. Practices are games to her. She comes to play everyday in practice. Being here is only going to make us a tougher team on the perimeter because of what she has to offer.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.