From anemia to all-star
Finally healthy, Pringle has shined for Tar Heels
Posted: Saturday March 31, 2007 4:22PM; Updated: Saturday March 31, 2007 4:22PM
Two laps. That's all LaToya Pringle could manage before passing out. Not exactly the kind of stamina you want when you're playing for North Carolina or against Tennessee, which she'll be doing Sunday in the national semifinals.
The up-tempo style of the Tar Heels was a little too much for Pringle when she first arrived on campus. She couldn't even make it down the floor with her teammates.
"It was frustrating, but funny at times," Pringle said. "I remember my first year when I got to play, I was dead tired and I wanted to come out. Coach was like, 'No. You get back in there. You've got to get some energy.' They would try any way to try and get me some kind of energy, some kind of burst. It was very hard, knowing we were an up and down team and I couldn't do it. I just had to deal with it."
But Pringle couldn't deal with it until she knew what it was.
For a while, she thought it was just the flu. But the day she passed out, Pringle knew it was something more. After undergoing a series of tests, doctors finally discovered that Pringle was anemic and had a very low number of red blood cells.
The diagnosis led to weekly blood checks, a six-hour blood transfusion and, eventually, her recovery.
"It was a long process," Pringle said. "It took a couple months for it to take effect. Basically, it was my sophomore year when we started preseason, since I missed that my first year. But I got into shape and just knew right off the bat I was a different person."
And as a junior, Pringle couldn't be more different.
In her first season as a full-time starter, Pringle has become quite the complement to Erlana Larkins in the Tar Heels' inside game. She's also taking advantage of the double teams that Larkins draws, averaging 9.9 points and 7.5 rebounds.
It's on the defensive end where Pringle has really shined. This season, she set the school's single-season record for blocks with 117. She's averaged 3.3 through the NCAA tournament. And, she's putting up career highs in every category.
"She was somebody who, when she came in, she was going through the motions," Larkins said. "Now, you couldn't tell that she did those things in her early years. She comes to practice and practices hard. She's out there blocking on everybody's shots, like we're not teammates. She just pushes you so hard every day."