MSU Guards Provide Spark for Lady Bulldogs

Junior Doceide Warren and senior Tiania Burns are making their mark as the starting backcourt for the 14-9 Lady Bulldog basketball team. The duo has become the backbone of the team, helping guide the efforts on both ends of the court.

Point guard Warren continues to dish out opportunities for her team and leads the Lady Bulldogs with 81 assists and ranks fourth in the SEC with a positive assist/turnover ratio of 1.84.

The Dallas, Texas, native has had three 7-assist games on the year, keying Bulldog victories against Birmingham-Southern, UC Santa Barbara, and Loyola in the Dead River Company Classic in Orono, Maine. She has proven to be a leader at home with five assists against Troy University and on the road with five assists at Alabama. With this type of play she continues to open and drive the ball down the court and show her ability to guide the offense.

"When I am penetrating, I am trying to open it up for Tan White and Tiania Burns," Warren said. "I just try to make sure to always have a positive assist/turnover ratio."

The educational psychology major has seen more playing time this year after recovering from her hip and hamstring injury that sidelined her for most of last season. With this extra playing time, she has matured her ball skills and continues to be a great leader to the Lady Bulldog squad. She knows when to dish it off and when to take the open shot reflecting her 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

"Doceide continues to gain strength and confidence during each game," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "She really pushes the ball for us and can break down the defense to create good shots for herself or her teammates. She boards well and wants the ball when the game is on the line. She is very versatile and really compliments our guard combination with Tan and Tiania."

She knows that getting the ball down the court is the main key for a successful game. This mentality has made her a good floor leader who knows what is needed and when it is needed.

"I just look to push; we are a fast break team," explains Warren.

When Warren goes out, fellow guard Burns shifts from shooting to the point as a back up where she also finds herself in a leadership role. Burns ranks second on the team in many categories including 10.7 points per game and 1.2 steals per game.

"Tiania is defending and handling the point position better this season," explains Fanning. "She is pushing the team in transition and doesn't mind mixing it up inside."

The Nashville, Tenn., native ranks 24th in overall scoring in the SEC and is fourth in the conference in 3-point field goals at 40 percent going 23-of-57 with a perfect performance against Vanderbilt this month.

Burns continues to have break out games, including a double-double game with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Baylor (11/23/04) and at South Carolina (01/06/05) where she posted a team-high 22 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and tying fellow guard Warren with three steals. Most recently, she again posted 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field along with three boards and three assists in the double overtime loss to Vanderbilt.

Burns takes advantage of the open looks received when teams double White, as seen by her performances against the Gamecocks and Commodores.

"Even when Tan is not able to score, someone has to step up," Burns said. "I try not to pay attention to the stats. If the team needs me to score, then I will score. If the team needs me to rebound, then I do that-whatever it takes."

Burns is not just a scoring threat. Her all-around game has improved in 2004-05, as she grabbed 11 rebounds against Baylor, nine against Georgia and a five-rebound, three-steal performance at Arkansas.

"Tiania is our top shooting guard, I just try to get her open," said Warren. "She can post, guard, and penetrate."

Since her first step on the court of Humphrey Coliseum from Copiah Lincoln Junior College, the sociology and criminal justice major has been an immediate presence for the Lady Bulldogs earning a starting role her two years since her transfer.

"Tiania is still continuing to improve and gain confidence as a senior for the Lady Bulldogs," Coach Fanning explains. "She posts up as well as any player I've coached and extends really well on her jump shot. Tiania practices hard and wants us to have a great year. I anticipate her best is yet to come."

With the leadership and ball handling of Warren and Burns, the Lady Bulldogs look to make a solid mark on the remainder of the regular season and beyond.

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