by darren reese
MORRISTOWN - The 2012-13 basketball season has been one of adjustment for Walters State freshman Karly Frye.
Last year, the 5-foot-4 point guard was the leading scorer for Chuckey-Doak as the team made a run to the first region title in school history. Now Frye's primary responsibility is to distribute the basketball.
She is also getting used to playing for someone new. For four years, Frye's high school coach was her mom, Beth. As a Lady Senator, she is under the tutelage of the highly-respected Dave Kragel.
But despite the changes, Frye has made the transition quickly and successfully. She has started every game for Walters State this season, and the Lady Senators are currently 17-1 and ranked No. 7 in the country.
"This season has been a lot different for me, obviously, than playing at Chuckey-Doak, but I think the style we play fits me well," Frye said. "I have to be more of a true point guard, and look to get the ball to our bread and butter players."
Frye was last year's Greene County Player of the Year. She was also the District 2-AA Player of the Year and eventually was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association's All-State team.
This year she is only averaging three points and two rebounds per game. But Frye is just fine with not being the go-to scorer on her team.
"I still look to score every now and then, but in my mind, piling up a bunch of assists is just the same as scoring points," she noted.
Frye hasn't been alone in making the transition to the college game. Walters State's roster consists of 11 freshmen and only two sophomores. But the new group is eager to write its own chapter in the program's storied tradition.
Walters State has advanced to the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national tournament five of the past six years.
"We call ourselves the 'Fearless Freshmen'," Frye smiled. "We want nothing short of playing for a championship."
"It took us a little time to get to know each other, each other's strengths and weaknesses and learning how to feed off each other. But we all look out for each other. We want the whole team to be successful."
Kragel says Frye has been exactly the player he expected her to be when he first spotted her on the recruiting trail.
"To be honest with you, last year when I saw Karly play, I thought she was the best point guard I saw in the entire state," Kragel said.
"She handles the ball well. She sees the floor good. She makes other people better with her passes. I've thrown lot on her as a freshman, but she is a special kid. She is not an ordinary player."
Kragel describes Frye as the catalyst for an offense that is averaging -- points per game.
"She can push the ball against anybody," he said. "We get a lot of easy baskets as a result of her being able to read the floor so well. In high school, she was a really good shooter. Here, hasn't had to worry as much about shooting. She can concentrate on keeping the ball within the offense.
The coach said the biggest improvement he has seen Frye make this season has been on the defensive end.
"That really has been the biggest transition she has had to make, just stepping up on defense the way I wanted her to," Kragel said. "She really has become a complete player with that improvement."
Frye has ambitions of playing at a four-year institution once her Walters State career is over, and she knows that Kragel can get her there. That is one of the main reasons she chose to be a Lady Senator.
"Coach Kragel is a great coach, and he knows what it takes to help players get the most out of their potential," Frye said.
And is some ways, Frye admits, there isn't a lot of difference between her current coach and her former one.
"My mom could get after me real good, and coach Kragel gets after me just the same, so there is no difference there," Frye laughed.
Walters State has two key home games scheduled for this weekend. The Lady Senators were suppose to play Dyersburg State tonight, but that game has been moved to Sunday at 2 p.m. due to weather.
Tomorrow, Walters State will host Southwest Tennessee at 2 p.m. as scheduled.
Those two opponents currently sit fourth and third in the league standings, respectively.