Grant, Ritchie, others must step up

Updated: January 19, 2004, 9:41 AM ET
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

Last season, Plenette Pierson and Jia Perkins were Texas Tech's top go-to threats.

Perkins
Perkins
Pierson has since graduated, taking her game to the WNBA and leaving Perkins behind to shoulder the bulk of the offensive burden. But now, Perkins' 16.5 scoring average is gone, too, which means the Lady Raiders have lost their top two scorers from last season.

Perkins' absence puts a lot more offensive pressure on Texas Tech's other players who haven't had to carry that load, specifically Natalie Ritchie and Erin Grant. Grant is an excellent point guard (6.4 assists per game), but she has struggled to be a consistent scorer (seventh on the team at 5.6 ppg).

The one player who will look to step up is freshman Alesha Robertson, who already has carried a big load (she ranks second on the team with 10.6 points in 18.2 minutes and two starts). The 6-foot guard already has done a lot as a freshman -- on Saturday, her three free throws in the final 7.6 seconds helped lead Texas Tech past Baylor 64-63 -- and the Lady Raiders will look to her even more.

Robertson, however, is the type of player who has always dreamed about doing just that. She always wanted to play for Texas Tech, and if anybody was ready to step into the spotlight as a freshman, it's Robertson.

Perkins will be missed. Everybody across the Big 12 has enjoyed watching her play, and she's a very popular player throughout the league. She has one of the best pull-up jumpers in the country, and above all else, let's just hope she's OK.

Mechelle Voepel is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. She can be reached at mvoepel@kcstar.com.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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