This item originally appeared in the April 22, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
Perhaps the most important ingredient in developing a winning college program is recruiting and the ability to continue to fill holes left at each year's end.
The Lady Techster basketball program's 2004 season-ending hole was filled quickly with the signing of 6-foot 7-inch center Margaret DeCiman from Seward County Community College, who will be the tallest player in Lady Techster history.
DeCiman will be a key component in replacing Tech's former dominating post players Amisha Carter and Trina Frierson, who were drafted 17th and 19th overall, respectively, in the WNBA Draft just one day after DeCiman decided on Tech as her new home.
The West Africa native has her work cut out for her, after Carter and Frierson made replacing a former star look easy.
Carter, the Western Athletic Conference's Player of the Year, averaged 16.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, while Frierson averaged 16.2 points and seven rebounds per game during the 2003-04 season, just one year after Cheryl Ford departed for the WNBA and became the league's Rookie of the Year for the world champion Detroit Shock.
DeCiman averaged 9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game, while leading her Seward team to a No. 4 national junior college ranking and the quarterfinals of the national tournament.
Although DeCiman has impressive size, solid junior college numbers and excellent basketball pedigree in uncle and former NBA center Manute Bol, she must prove herself as a Division I post player by battling the likes of talented post players at Tennessee and other nationally-respected powerhouses.
DeCiman will certainly not be alone in the attempt to fill the void left by Carter and Frierson.
Returning players Tiffany Thompson, Tamika Kursh and Tia Moore will each contribute at the post position for Tech next season.
Joining the towering transfer will be another junior college star, only in a much smaller proportion.
Latosha Christmas, a 5-foot 11-inch guard from Midland Junior College, will join the Techsters in the fall, adding size to the forward position and another strong shooter from the wing to accompany Erica Smith-Taylor.
Now that he has secured these two stars, Budke must get them onboard with his returning players, something he has had no trouble doing in his first two seasons as Tech's head coach.
Last year's prize recruit, Lakiste Barkus, played a huge role in the Techster's success this past season, adding a spark off the bench and 8.8 points per game.
The former Trinity Valley Community College star and National Junior College Player of the Year may be stepping into a starting role for the Techsters next season.
The recruiting process is certainly not over for the Techsters, as coach Budke and staff continues to search for ways to improve the team for the 2004-05 season.
Luke DeRouen is a senior journalism major from Lake Charles and serves as associate sports editor for The Tech Talk.