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Just The Sports: Ivory Latta

Just The Sports

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ivory Latta

Thanks to her effervescent personality, LeBron James's admiration of her game, and her friendship with Ludacris, University of North Carolina guard Ivory Latta has become the face of women's college basketball. As a result of all the publicity the media gives Latta because of her charm, the fact that this is the worst season for Latta since her sophomore year gets pushed to the side.

Before this year, Latta had improved her shooting efficiency and assist rate to turnover rate ratio from her freshman to sophomore to junior seasons. Now her shooting (57.4 TS% and 1.15 points per shot attempt) and ball-handling statistics (20.6 AsR: 16.6 ToR) are slightly worse than what she did in 2004-05.

One explanation given for Latta's decline in play is that it is the result of her off-season knee surgery, an explanation that carries with it a hint of credence. Proof that Latta has been suffering the ill-effects of her surgery this year can be found in her shot selection. She has spent the majority of her offensive season behind the three-point line and her 7.1 three-point attempts per game represent the highest such mark in her career. At the same time, her 3.3 free throw attempts per game are a career-low. A lack of mobility due to a not-quite-100% knee fits in perfectly with such statistics so it would seem that Latta does possess a legitimate excuse for her struggles this year.

Then again, she is more than likely experiencing the effect of a rough stretch of games. Before UNC played Duke for the first time, she was on pace to have the best year of her career, but the last six games have dropped her to where she is now, thanks in large part to three abysmal performances in three Carolina losses. Perhaps Latta's knee only pains her to the point of negatively influencing her performance when Carolina loses. If so, that is one convenient knee problem.



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