It didn’t take long, but Shi-Heria Shipp has a team-made parody Twitter account, with the bio, “Eshtra Eshtra … Read all about me!!”
“It’s because of my accent,” Shipp said, laughing after being asked about the account’s origin. “I’m from North Carolina so I don’t articulate my words a lot. When I’m talking fast I say ‘eshtra.’ The stuff I say, they take it and run with it.”
Shipp battled with several injuries and turmoil within her former team at George Washington. However, the fifth-year senior guard has found comfort in her first season with Temple, playing a significant role in the Owls’ 3-0 start.
“[Shipp] is looking to attack on offense, she can be a pretty good defender, and she can go rebound,” coach Tonya Cardoza said before the regular season. “She is definitely a good pickup for us and we’re lucky to have her.”
Since transferring from George Washington, Shipp has been an impact player for Temple, averaging 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in three contests this year. Shipp is also tied for the team-high in steals, recording eight.
Shipp began the season with a career-high 18 points against La Salle, and she was recognized by the American Athletic Conference and the Philadelphia Big 5 honor rolls.
“I’m trying to put up double figures, trying to put up double doubles every game,” Shipp said. “I want this to be the best year of my college career.”
But before her success with the Owls, Shipp’s four years with George Washington were filled with physical and personal hurdles.
In the last three years, Shipp has undergone multiple operations, including arthroscopic surgery for an injured patella tendon, compartment syndrome surgery to repair severe shin splints and a surgery on a broken collarbone.
In addition to her past ailments, while playing for George Washington, Shipp said the team camaraderie was very low due to its lack of success, and her designated role with a new coach hampered her effectiveness on the court.
“It was a lot of craziness going on at GW,” Shipp said. “I decided if I wanted to play basketball, me being [there] this last year isn’t going to benefit me.”
After being granted an extra year of eligibility due to her missing the 2010-11 season, Shipp decided a change of scenery was the best course of action.
With the departure of former Owls’ forward Sally Kabengano during the offseason, an opening had been created on Temple’s roster. After conversations between both teams’ coaches, Shipp visited Temple and hasn’t looked back.
“When Sally decided not to come back, [who] played 30 minutes for us, being able to get Shipp in replacing her was the best thing for us,” Cardoza said.
Even though the Owls had a down year last season, the school’s history of competing in postseason play was a motivating factor for Shipp. Although she was expected to start upon her arrival at Temple, Shipp said she had fears about being able to mesh with her new teammates after her experience with George Washington.
“At first I was so scared going to a new team,” Shipp said. “But the coaches are so cool and outgoing and my teammates, too. They welcomed me and I fit right in. I think all of us get along with each other very well. At GW, we didn’t get along.”
“At the end of the day, we’re here for basketball so we get it done,” Shipp added. “I’ve never been on a team that is so together. We’re trying to do something this year, trying to prove people wrong.”
After the departure of Kabengano and the suspension of junior guard Rateska Brown, Shipp’s added veteran presence is an important asset for the Owls’ young roster. Initially, Shipp did not want to take a leadership role with Temple, but she said she has grown into her position and has high hopes for her collegiate finale.
“When I got here, the coaches pushed me to become that leader and I’m still working on it,” Shipp said. “It’s been good for me. It’s allowed me to grow up.”
“I think our team can go to postseason play and go to the NCAA,” Shipp said. “I think we should be in competition for [the Big 5 title]. Of course we have [Connecticut] and Louisville at the top of the conference, but watching some of their game, they’re not the perfect team. It’s not like we can’t contend with those teams.”
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.