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Lange throwing a ‘block party’ as Furman post


Jessica Lange may be the namesake of a once-famous actress, but her basketball “block party” against opponents’ shots is no act at Furman University.

The 6-foot-2 power forward and center, a rising redshirt junior and former Farragut High School standout, led her team in blocked shots last season (54) as a sophomore starter, finishing among the Southern Conference leaders in blocks.

Stephanie Rich, a Furman assistant coach, said Lange tends to “out-smart” opponents, adding that her shot-blocking ability “is pretty great, she’s not really that tall of a post player. ... She’s got great timing.”

Offensively, “she’s got great touch,” Rich said of Lange’s shooting ability. The former FHS standout converted 81.8 percent of her free throw attempts and shot 45 percent from the field, averaging 7.2 points per game and four rebounds per outing for a Furman team that won only 10 of 30 games overall, 5-13 in the Southern Conference.

Lange started 29 of the team’s 30 games.

“It was my first year as a starter and we had a very young team, we had six freshmen,” Lange said. “And for me it was my first year of playing a really big role.

“It was up and down, but I was pretty happy with my year,” the 21-year old pre-med health and exercise science major added. “It got a little rough toward the end ... the last two or three games of the season I didn’t play very well.”

The goal for 2006-07? “I want to be more of a scoring threat and I want to be more of a rebounder,” Lange said. “And just be more of a leader on the floor, because I’m the only senior [age-wise] this [upcoming] year, so that’s a big responsibility.”

Rich added, “She’s “a finesse player, she’s not looking to get in the post and get real physical.”

The Furman assistant went to praise Lange’s “work ethic” that extends “from the court into the classroom as well” and commended her “wonderful attitude, she’s very intelligent and is a quiet leader for our team, leads by example.

“She understands the game, she’s a great person to coach.”

CAMPUS LIFE

Since arriving at the Greenville, S.C., campus after graduating from FHS in 2003, “It was definitely a big adjustment. Being an only child I was really close to my parents [Randy and Christy Lange], and all my family lives in Knoxville, so it was kinda hard to leave,” Lange said. “But it’s not so far away to where I don’t get to see them very often.

“As far as basketball, that was a big adjustment, too. Adjusting to a quicker tempo and better players. But it all worked out, you get used to it.”

Loosely following in the footsteps of her father, a Farragut veterinarian, Lange said she’s looking to become an optimologist.

“Growing up around him gave me an interest in medicine, but I wanted to do it on people and not animals,” Lange said.

Her medical school pursuit will intensify after the 2006-07 season.

Despite having two years of eligibility left, “Because of medical school I decided not to stay [and finish her final year of basketball], I have a lot of schooling ahead,” she said.

With a 3.945 grade point average, Lange said she’s been quite pleased with Furman University.

“The classes are small, and all the professors know you. Whenever I see a professor I had, they always remember you and talk to you and take a personal interest in you,” Lange said. “You’re not just a number. You can call ’em at home. That’s a big part of it.

“And it’s a beautiful campus.”

LADY AD CONNECTIONS

As for keeping in touch with members of the 2002-03 Lady Admiral team that shared a District 4-AAA championship with then-powerful Sevier County, “actually, Alex Munday and I are still best friends,” Lange said of her “twin tower” post sidekick at FHS who is now a standout post at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

“We talk at least every other week, if not every week. We see each other every time we go home.”

Spending her first summer school session at Furman since arriving at the Greenville campus three years earlier, Lange frequented the Maryville College gym in 2004 and 2005 for summer pick-up games with other former Lady Ad teammates.

“Like Rachel [Draper] and Haley [Williams] and Natalie [Munday],” Lange said.

But preparing for medical school is Lange’s “pick-up game” of choice in the summer of 2006.

 

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