Houston Roundball Review: Women's Hoops

This is The Houston Roundball Review's (www.TheHRR.com) blog to discuss women's basketball. The HRR began in 1994 and has been media credentialed to cover college and pro hoops since 1997. Member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rice's Lauren Neaves is Ready

Lauren Neaves may just be the best women's basketball player in Houston hardly anyone knows about. Neaves, 6'2", red-shirt senior, post player for the Rice Owls was tabbed the C-USA's Pre-Season Player of the Year by the league's coaches. She already owns Rice's career blocked shots record (230 and counting) which she set during her sophomore season! Neaves averaged a double-double (15.7 ppg and 10.8 rpg) last season (total of18 double-doubles, including eight in a row). She also blocked 73 shots last season and shot 46.8% from the field and 80% from the free throw line.

Despite those superb stats, Lauren plans to improve those stats this season and lead the Rice Owls back to the Women's NCAA Tournament.

HRR: What did you do to improve your game this season?
Neaves: I got a lot stronger. I put on about 15 pounds. I think that was the biggest thing because I play on the block a lot; and, I am a little undersized; so I think the added weight will help me knock some bodies around -- at least try to.

I've been working on my outside shot more. I think it's coming along. I don't think I'm quite as comfortable as Coach (Greg Williams) would like me to be because I've always played with my back to the basket. I'm trying to develop that part of my game; so, I can make it harder to match up against. Hopefully, that will come to fruition.

HRR: What are your goals / team goals for this season?
Neaves: Our first goal is to start off the season really strong. In past years, we've started off really slow and then finished up strong; but, that doesn't really help us. We need to have a better RPI to start off. When we started winning last year, we had a big wall to climb. Also, I think we're trying to be more enthusiastic. We're not a very talkative team -- that's not really our personality; but, we're trying to develop that in practice.

HRR: Any pressure on you this season being the Pre-Season Player of the Year or the team's being picked to finish first in C-USA this season?
Neaves: I don't think so. We went through this last year. We kind of had that pressure last season. Unfortunately, we didn't finish first. I think this year we're a lot more cocky. We all know how good we are; and, how good we can be; so, I think we're really grasping the challenge of being picked first. I think we're stepping up to the challenge this season instead of backing a way from it a little bit (like last season).

HRR: I've asked you this before; but, I'll ask you again -- on the record -- this time. Do you have any goals of playing professionally?
Neaves: Actually, I do. Before, I was kind of hesitant about it. I wasn't really sure what exactly I wanted to do; but, now, playing under Coach Williams, I'm actually really enjoying playing basketball. So, I'd like to continue playing after this season-- God willing.
HRR: Does that mean playing in the WNBA; going overseason; or both?
Neaves: If I'm lucky enough, both.

You have your first opportunity to see Lauren and her teammates play this Saturday, November 4, at Rice's Autry Court versus Lake Truck in an exhibition game. Tip-off is set for 6pm.
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Lady Coogs Lose Exhibition Game

The Houston Lady Cougars lost their first of two exhibition games Sunday afternoon at Hofheinz Pavilion 78 to 66 to Lake Trucklines. Lake Truck is coached by Houston Comets assistant coach Kevin Cook. Despite the loss, the Lady Coogs showed potential and promise for their 2006-2007 season.

UH led 39 to 38 at halftime due to good ball movement and good shot selection. The Lady Cougars dished out 10 assists on their 15 made baskets in the opening half. Showing more aggressiveness and confidence than she displayed last season, senior point guard, Becky Gibson, scored 10 points in the first period.

Freshman post player Ashlee' Joseph pulled down seven rebounds in her first 12 minutes of college basketball action.

Houston's star player Tye Jackson struggled shooting the ball the entire game -- she missed 8 of 10 shots in the first half and all 8 of her shots in the second half. Jackson finished the game with five points; six assists; three rebounds; and four turnovers.

Gibson finished the game with 16 points to lead all scorers.

Lake Truck had four players score in double figures: 13 points each from Brandy Teamer; Chelsea Grear; and Nikki Blue. Blue also added a game-high 14 rebounds (from the point guard position); a game-high eight assists; and also a game-high seven turnovers. Brittany Jackson added 11 points; six rebounds; and three assists.

Despite shooting 46.9% (15 for 32) in the first half, UH finished the game shooting just 40% (26 for 65) thanks to an ice cold 11 for 33 showing in the second half.

The Lady Cougars second and final exhibition game will be Friday, November 10, versus the Houston Jaguars. Tip-off is at 7 pm at Hofheinz.

Lake Truck continues its trek across the USA with a match-up in Pittsburgh versus Duquesne University on October 31. Other opponents on Lake Truck's schedule include top-ranked Maryland (11/2); #3 Oklahoma (11/1); top 15 team LSU (11/7); as well as TCU (11/6), SMU (11/5), and Rice University (11/4).
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Aggies' Atunrase Named to Pre-Season All-Big 12 Team

Texas A&M’s Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.) was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Conference Team in a vote by the league’s head coaches today.

The 5-foot-10 junior guard/forward is one of the nation’s and league’s top returning players heading into the 2006-07 season. An All-American candidate, Aturnase ranks third all-time in blocked shots (115) at A&M and holds the school single-season record in the same category (58).

Last season, she averaged a team-leading 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.8 blocks per game and led the Aggies to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. She finished fourth in the Big 12 in steals (61), sixth in three-point field goal percentage (38.8) and sixth in blocked shots (58) through all games played in 2005-06.

Atunrase, one of five returning starters for A&M, was joined on the preseason all-conference honors list by Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, Iowa State’s Lyndsey Medders, Nebraska’s Kiera Hardy and Texas’ Tiffany Jackson. All five were All-Big 12 First Team selections a year ago.

2006-07 Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Big 12 Honors
(coaches not allowed to vote for own players)

Preseason Player of the Year -- Courtney Paris (Oklahoma).

Preseason Newcomer of the Year -- Bernice Mosby (Baylor).

Preseason Freshman of the Year -- Brittainey Raven (Texas).

Preseason All-Big 12 Team
G - Lyndsey Medders (Iowa State)
G - Kiera Hardy (Nebraska)
C - Courtney Paris (Oklahoma)
F - Tiffany Jackson (Texas)
F - Morenike Atunrase (Texas A&M)
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lady Owls Picked to win C-USA

I make no qualms about my affinity for women's hoops nor do I hide my desire to increase the home attendance of the Rice Lady Owls and the Houston Lady Cougars. Here's another reason for fans of Houston area women's basketball to support the Lady Owls and the Lady Cougars this season...

For the second consecutive year, Rice has been picked as the preseason favorite to win the Conference USA women's basketball regular season title. The poll was voted upon by the league's 12 head coaches and released by the league office Wednesday. The Owls tallied 142 points and earned 10 first-place votes, while Tulsa and SMU tied for second with 113 points each. TU received one first-place vote, as did Houston who came in fourth with 99 points.

Rice returns a solid 82.9 percent of its scoring and 79.0 percent of its rebounding from a team that finished second in the league (11-5 and 18-14 overall) and at the conference tournament a year ago. The Owls welcome back four starters and 11 letterwinners, including preseason all-conference pick Lauren Neaves. Neaves, a 6-2 senior forward, was also named a 2006 All-C-USA first teamer with a double-double average of 15.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Second-year head coach Greg Williams guided his alma mater to the 2006 WNIT after winning 12 of its last 15 games. Rice has participated in postseason play seven of the last nine years, including two NCAA Tournament appearances.

2006-07 C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Rice (10), 142
2. Tulsa (1), 113
2. SMU, 113
4. Houston (1), 99
5. Southern Miss, 97
6. Tulane, 83
7. East Carolina, 78
8. UAB, 70
9. Marshall, 59
10. UTEP, 38
11. UCF, 27
12. Memphis, 17

Note: first place votes in parentheses.

2006-07 C-USA Preseason Coaches All-Conference Team
Player, School - Pos. / Ht. / Cl. / Hometown
Jillian Robbins*, Tulsa - F / 6-1 / Sr. / Spring, Texas
Lauren Neaves, Rice - F / 6-2 / Sr. / Cooper City, Fla.
Tye Jackson, Houston - G / 5-10 / Jr. / Houston, Texas
Janielle Dodds, SMU - P / 6-3 / Jr. / Fairfax, Va.
Carmen Guzman, UAB - G / 5-9 / Sr. / New York, N.Y.
* C-USA Preseason Player of the Year
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

C-USA Announces TV Hoops Schedule

Conference USA announced that a total of 10 women’s basketball games will be televised nationally and regionally during the 2006-07 season as part of the league’s television package with ESPN and CSTV. Included are four contests that will be televised on ESPN2, as well as a six-game package on CSTV.

Tulsa, Rice, SMU, Tulane and East Carolina will each have at least two games televised, while UAB, Marshall, Houston and Southern Miss have one apiece in regular season.

Six of the 10 televised games will be aired in January, one in February and three in March.

CSTV kicks off its national coverage as Tulane hosts Rice on Sunday, Jan. 7.

2007 Conference USA Women’s Basketball TV Schedule

Sat., Jan. 7 Rice at Tulane (Fogelman Arena) 2 p.m. CST, CSTV
Sun., Jan. 14 UAB at Southern Miss (Reed Green Coliseum) 2 p.m. CST, CSTV
Sun., Jan. 14 Tulane at SMU (Moody Coliseum) 4 p.m. CST, ESPN2
Sun., Jan. 21 SMU at Tulsa (Reynolds Center) 1 p.m. CST, CSTV
Sun., Jan. 21 Houston at Rice (Autry Court) 3 p.m. CST, ESPN2
Sun., Jan. 28 East Carolina at Marshall (Cam Henderson Center) 2 p.m. CST, CSTV

Sun., Feb. 11 East Carolina at Tulsa (Reynolds Center) 4:30 p.m. CST, ESPN2

Sat., March 3 C-USA Semifinals 1 (Reynolds Center) 2 p.m. CST, CSTV
Sat., March 3 C-USA Semifinals 2 (Reynolds Center) 4:30 p.m. CST, CSTV
Sun., March 4 C-USA Championship (Reynolds Center) 4:30 p.m. CST, ESPN2

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Aggies Ranked 12th in CSTV Pre-Season Top 25

With four of its top scorers back from a year ago, the Texas A&M women’s basketball team continues its presence on the preseason national radar as CSTV.com experts have picked the Aggies as one of the nation's top 25 teams heading into the 2006-07 season.

CSTV analysts Debbie Antonelli, Greg Amsinger and Ann Schatz have the Aggies ranked No. 12 in the poll. A&M is one-of-four Big 12 Conference schools to receive preseason billing by the network, the second-highest ranked league team behind Oklahoma (No. 3) and ahead of rival Texas (No. 18) and Kansas State (No. 22).

In the preseason polls thus far, the Aggies have been ranked a program-best No. 9 by Street & Smith’s, No. 15 by Lindy’s Basketball Annual and No. 24 by Athlon Sports.

Last season, A&M advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996 and returns three All-Big 12 performers in junior All-American candidate Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.), junior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and sophomore Takia Starks (Spring Westfield HS, Houston, Texas). Rounding out the returning starting five for the Aggies is junior Patrice Reado (Madison HS, Houston, Texas) and sophomore La Toya Micheaux (Fort Bend Hightower HS, Missouri City, Texas). The team’s top returning scorers include Atunrase, Starks, Franklin and sophomore Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) who all combined for 63 percent of the team’s scoring output in 2005-06.

The Aggies’ heralded four-member freshman class also includes the program’s first-ever McDonald’s High School All-American in 5-foot-10 guard Adrian McGowen (Goodrich, Texas). She is joined by fellow freshmen Damitria Buchanan (Houston Jones HS, Houston, Texas), Ashlaa Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas) and Katrina Limbaha (Riga, Latvia). Horton redshirted last season.

1. Maryland
2. North Carolina
3. Oklahoma
4. Tennessee
5. Stanford
6. Ohio State
7. Duke
8. Connecticut
9. Georgia
10. LSU
11. Rutgers
12. Texas A&M
13. Arizona State

14. Kentucky
15. Purdue
16. St. John’s
17. California
18. Texas
19. UCLA
20. Vanderbilt
21. BYU
22. Kansas State
23. New Mexico
24. USC
25. Bowling Green
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Monday, October 09, 2006

Big 12 Media Day

I've been approved to attend (and cover) the Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day which takes place October 18, in Oklahoma City. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be there.

I'm anxious (somewhat) to match faces with the email addresses of the people who have kept me up-to-date (and the other media members, too) about women's hoops in the Big 12.

Hopefully, I'll post a few mp3s from a coach (or two) next week.

Stay tuned...
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

OU Women's Basketball Selling Season Tickets at Record Pace

Generally, I don't copy and paste press releases; but, I'm making an exception this time because I'm very impressed with the fantastic response the Oklahoma Sooners women's basketball team has received from its growing (and growing) season ticket holder fan base.

The Oklahoma Athletics Tickets Office announced Sunday morning that all reserved season tickets in the lower bowl area of the Lloyd Noble Center are sold out for the upcoming women’s basketball season. Individuals who wish to purchase reserved seats are welcome to join the women’s basketball reserved seat waiting list by contacting the OU Athletics Ticket Office.

General Admission season tickets are still available. Tickets are $95 and include one GA ticket for each game. All general admission tickets are located in the upper concourse.

“The pace of sales for our season tickets has been unbelievable,” said OU head coach Sherri Coale. “People are obviously excited about our product and the potential that this upcoming season holds. We appreciate the enthusiasm of our fans and look forward to performing for them. We do, however, want everyone to remember that the Lloyd Noble Center will hold 12,000 people, so don’t stop now! Keep coming—we need you. All of you.”

Group tickets will also be available for most regular season games. Prices are $5 for groups 10-99 and $3 for groups 100 or more.

To purchase general admission season tickets, contact the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 456-GoOU. Please contact the Marketing Department at (405) 325-7811 to order group tickets or for further information.

OU set a program record by selling 4,013 season tickets last year. OU has already raced past that total by selling out the reserved level, which seats approximately 5,000 fans.

This season, OU returns five starters and nine letterwinners, including 2006 consensus All-American Courtney Paris and 2006 All-Big 12 second team performer Leah Rush. OU also added five true freshman, who are headlined by McDonald’s All-Americans Abi Olajuwon and Amanda Thompson.
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