NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- No, Jasmine Erving is not related to NBA legend Julius Erving. She's never met him and only seen him play on highlight reels. They don't even play the same position on the court, as Julius was a slashing perimeter player and Jasmine is a dominating presence in the post.
But don't think the similarities stop at the two sharing the same name and an affinity for the hardwood. Julius Erving was a pioneer in basketball, helping usher in a new era of basketball and legitimizing an entire league as well as a new style of play.
It's a little presumptuous to think Jasmine will have the same effect on the game that Julius had. But as she enters her senior season at Northridge, she is legitimizing a program revitalized by a new coach and an explosive crop of newcomers.
"It is refreshing to have so much talent because that will only create more opportunities for my teammates and myself," Erving said. "In the past, I've been the main focal point for defenses, but this year we have a talented group of shooters and athletes that should help space the floor."
During her first three seasons of Northridge basketball, Erving, who is majoring in Sociology, has definitely gone through numerous highs and lows.
Among the highs was becoming just the eighth player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and in earning consecutive All-Big West Second Team honors after the last two seasons. The lows include three-straight 20-plus loss campaigns that have not generated a trip to the postseason in the past two years.
But that's all in the past and with the start of the 2011-12 season on the horizon, Erving is determined to make her last year at CSUN her best. Based on how she did last year, that is a lofty goal.
In her junior season, Erving posted career-high averages of 14.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, numbers that jumped to a league-leading 17.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg. She also registered the top two individual scoring efforts of the season, pouring in 34 and a career-high 35 points in games against Cal State Fullerton.
"One of the key words for me this season is consistency," Erving said. "It does my team no good if I have one good game and then follow it up with a poor performance. By being consistent, I can produce for my team both what they and I expect."
Now, in her second season under the tutelage of Matador head coach Jason Flowers, Erving is energized about the possibilities her senior season has to offer.
"Jasmine has worked extremely hard since last spring to make this season her best yet," Flowers said. "I have not been a part of too many teams with such a dominant post force, but that's what Jasmine brings to every practice and game. This year, with improved guard play, her job should only get easier and that should worry the opposition."
The schedule features a challenging slate of regional match-ups and a host of opportunities to play at home. With only five returning letterwinners from a year ago, Erving is surrounded by a group of new players who bring a history of success.
"I love my new teammates and the energy they bring to practice every day," Erving said. "We have more depth than ever before and the new players all bring a strong basketball knowledge that allows us to pick up things quicker in practice."
And, if things fall into place in just the right way, Erving could leave Northridge as the school's all-time leading scorer. Though, according to her, those personal goals take a back seat to those of the team's.
"Our biggest goal as a team is to make the Big West Tournament," Erving added. "Although it has been unfortunate to not get in the past two seasons, the team is determined and deserves that chance."
For Northridge, the time is now. A look around the Big West Conference appears to show a wide-open race for the league with no clear favorite. With a solid group of newcomers expected to contribute immediately, Erving is a part of the most talented squad at CSUN since she set foot on the San Fernando Valley campus.
Now it's time for her to emerge from the shadows and step into the spotlight the game of basketball has associated with her name. Relationship or not.