Sheila James

Sheila James’ career at the University of Miami has been about facing adversity. From the moment she stepped on campus, she had to overcome her 5-5 height, and this past off-season, James had to deal with a major stress fracture suffered late in the 2000-2001 campaign.
James, however, has overcome both her height and injury to become one of the leaders of a University of Miami team that at 14-8 is challenging for a NCAA bid. No one would have guessed that James would see action in 19 of the Hurricanes’ 22 games this year, but the senior said that she just wanted to go out and play hard.
“It’s been a long process,” James said. “I came into this season not being able to condition, and now I’m finally able to practice, which is a big step for me.
“Fortunately, I was able to go out on the court and give it 100 percent, which is all I want to do.”
After a successful career at Palmetto High School in Orlando, James saw action in 26 games off the bench her freshman year, averaging 4.2 points a game. After an off-season of hard work and dedication, she became Miami’s starting point guard her sophomore year, and averaged 11.7 points and four rebounds per contest. Last year, James continued to be one of Miami’s best players before suffering a stress fracture, which sidelined her the last three games.
Although James enjoyed a great deal of success on the court, the senior said her fondest memory from UM will be visiting opposing arenas.
“I enjoyed going out to the different arenas and meeting the fans,” James said. “It was nice to see how much they appreciated the game and how much they appreciated someone playing hard out there.”
This season, UM coach Ferne Labati decided to move James to the shooting guard position, which would accommodate James’ injury much easier. Sophomore Hutashi Wilson, who has taken over at point guard this year, credits a lot of her success to James.
“This year, I’m coming in a lot more confident,” Wilson said. “It helps to have a veteran telling me that I have a voice and that I’m a major part of this team.”
James, meanwhile, has averaged 8.8 points while playing almost 24 minutes a contest. Although she has only started five games in 2001-2002, James is happy with her role right now.
“I had no expectations this year,” James said. “I guess I’m doing pretty well right now, especially considering that I was thinking about red-shirting.”
As for her team, the Hurricanes have five games left, four of them against Big East opponents. James says that while Miami’s 14-8 record could be better, she’s looking forward to doing all she can to try and help the Hurricanes get a berth into the NCAA tourney.
“We could have done better,” James said. “We let some close games get away and we haven’t played well on the road, but we’re improving from last year and heading in the right direction.
“I’m just going to have to be on the court and be as much of a leader as possible these last few games. You can’t really do that as well watching on the sidelines.”