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, March 31, 2008

Comets re-sign Tina

The Houston Comets have re-signed Tina Thompson, it was announced today by Houston Comets Head Coach and General Manager Karleen Thompson. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Thompson has been a mainstay of the franchise since becoming the first player selected in the inaugural Women’s National Basketball Association Draft held on April 28, 1997.

“Tina is definitely the leader of this team and re-signing is an indication of her commitment to the Comets,” said Coach Thompson. “A veteran of her caliber who possesses a great work ethic, both in practices and games, is the best example you can offer younger players.”


Thompson is currently playing her second season with the Spartak Moscow Region team in Russia, after previously helping the team capture the 2007 EuroLeague Women title and Russia Superleague crown.
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Aggies Reach Elite 8

I'm 7 for 8 (right, of course) in predicting teams to reach the 2008 NCAA Women's Elite Eight; and, I'm not upset one bit about the one team I predicted incorrectly.

Why?

The team is the Texas A&M Aggies.

The Aggies defeated Duke Sunday night 77 to 63 to
advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.

Senior Patrice Reado (Madison High School, Houston, Texas) led a group of four Aggies to reach double-figure points with 17 and also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds despite having zero in either category after playing 12 minutes in the first half. Junior Takia Starks (Westfield HS, Houston, Texas) added 15 points, while senior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and senior Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.) added 13 apiece.

The #2 seeded Aggies will face #1 seed Tennessee in the finals of the Oklahoma City Regional Tuesday, April 1, at 6pm on ESPN2.

The winner of that match-up will advance to the 2008 Women's Final Four which will be held in Tampa, FL, April 6 and 8.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snow re-signs w/ Comets

Friday, March 28, 2008 --

The Houston Comets have re-signed veteran center Michelle Snow, it was announced today by Houston Comets Head Coach and General Manager Karleen Thompson. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Michelle re-signing was very important to us,” said Coach Thompson. “She has been and will continue to be an integral part of the Comets. We believe the players we have assembled around her will allow Michelle to be a consistent, dominant force inside.”


Snow holds career averages of 9.7 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and 1.1 blocked shots per game, and counts four playoff appearances during that time (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006).

Since January 2008, in 31.9 minutes per game, Snow averaged 13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in 11 games for Elizur Ramla in the Israeli Women's Basketball League.

The Houston Comets will tip-off their 2008 home opener against the Minnesota Lynx in Reliant Arena on May 27 at 7:30 p.m.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

State Farm Wade Trophy 12

The State Farm Wade Trophy Committee along with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) announced today the 12 finalists in contention for The State Farm Wade Trophy.

The candidates were selected by a vote of committee members comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball administrators. Members of the committee will select the winner of The State Farm Wade Trophy from the 10-member Division I State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team and will be announced at the State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team Press Conference and The State Farm Wade Trophy Announcement during the WBCA National Convention on Saturday, April 5, 2008, at 8:45 a.m. (CDT).

The State Farm Wade Trophy Finalists (alphabetical order):

Matee Ajavon, G, Rutgers University, Senior.

Essence Carson, G, Rutgers University, Senior.

Tina Charles, C, University of Connecticut, Sophomore.

Sylvia Fowles, C, Louisiana State University, Senior.

Crystal Langhorne, C, University of Maryland, Senior.

Erlana Larkins, F, University of North Carolina, Senior.

Angel McCoughtry, F, University of Louisville, Junior.

Renee Montgomery, G, University of Connecticut, Junior.

Courtney Paris, C, University of Oklahoma, Junior.

Candace Parker, G/F/C, University of Tennessee, Senior (redshirt junior, graduates in 2008).

Kristi Toliver, G, University of Maryland, Junior.

Candice Wiggins, G, Stanford University, Senior.


The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 31st year is named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade. This most prestigious award, regarded as “The Heisman of Women’s Basketball”, debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women's national player of the year award in college basketball.

Last year’s State Farm Wade Trophy winner was Tennessee’s Candace Parker. Louisiana State University's Seimone Augustus (2005 and 2006) and Old Dominion's Nancy Lieberman (1979 and 1980) are the award’s only two-time recipients.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pre-Season Sked Change

Fans of the Houston Comets and the San Antonio Silver Stars take note of this WNBA Pre-Season Schedule Change:

Houston at San Antonio

New Date and Time (local):
May 1, 2008 - 7pm.

Old Date and Time (local):
May 2, 2008 - 7pm.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

Hilton's Rockets' Promotion

I'm not trying to disparage Hilton Koch by posting this; but, I do wonder if Hilton will have similar promotions for the Houston Comets this 2008 WNBA season.

Read this:

"
Hilton Furniture & Mattress Gives Consumers Chance to Receive Full Rebate"...

What do you think?

Add your comments.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Comets Promote Byrd

From the Houston Comets:

The Houston Comets have promoted Laurie Byrd to Assistant Coach, it was announced today by Head Coach & General Manager Karleen Thompson. In this position, Byrd will focus on skill development of guards, scouting and player assessment.

In 2007, Byrd joined the Comets as Director of Player Personnel. Her WNBA experience includes three years as assistant coach for the Detroit Shock, beginning with the 2003 season during which the team won their first WNBA Championship.

“Laurie was an obvious choice for assistant coach because she has vast knowledge of so many elements of basketball,” said Coach Thompson. “She consistently made contributions to the Comets that exceed her former position.

Prior to the WNBA, Byrd was assistant coach with the University of Detroit Titans women’s basketball team for five seasons.

Coach Thompson added, “Byrd is seasoned and her approach to coaching is very similar to my own – she’s a player’s coach. She’s a great teacher and leader. Her experience is so diverse that I know she can advise in every aspect of the game.”
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Immaculata, UConn, and Tennessee

UPDATE: March 26, 2008:
In case you missed the segment on Immaculata from Sunday's SportsCenter, here it is:


This Saturday, March 22, ESPN's "family of networks" will begin showcasing the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. On Sunday, March 23, ESPN shows will feature three news segments discussing women's college basketball's past, present and future.

Here's the press release:

Sunday’s Outside the Lines (8:30 a.m. CDT on ESPN; 11am CDT on ESPNEWS) will feature a pair of segments focusing on NCAA women’s basketball -- a look at the relationship between Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, and an examination of recruiting intensity, while SportsCenter’s featured piece will look back at the Immaculata University “Mighty Macs.”

Outside the Lines: Reporter Shelley Smith’s piece shows how the relationship between Auriemma and Summitt, which resulted in the schools not playing this season, began 13 years ago when the mighty Lady Vols visited then-upstart UConn. “I remember coming off of warm-ups and Tennessee was on our half of the court,” then-UConn center Rebecca Lobo says. “We asked them to move and they wouldn’t move, and it just fired some of our players up.”

Auriemma and Summitt each declined on-air interview requests for this piece.

Reporter Julie Foudy’s piece describes how college coaches and programs attempt to sign the best recruiting classes, and addresses the aspects of negative recruiting and how much of a factor perceived sexual orientation is in the recruiting process.

SportsCenter’s featured piece 11 p.m., Sunday, March 23, will focus on the Immaculata University “Mighty Macs” who won the first three regionally bracketed women’s national basketball titles. Led by 23-year-old coach Cathy Rush, the tiny Catholic women’s school in Malvern, Pa. (about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia), won its first championship -- the first national collegiate tournament for women ever played -- in 1972.


Excerpts from the SportsCenter Piece:

“It was a miracle that we were all here at the same time, and that timing being early 70s -- pre-scholarships and big-money budgets. It was the only time a team like Immaculata could have won the national tournament.” -- Cathy Rush, Immaculata head coach 1970-1977 (149-15 career coaching record)

“It was like watching Tennessee and Connecticut today. The best of the best, that’s what we were. The difference was people were seeing something like that for the first time. They hadn’t seen it before.” -- Marianne (Crawford) Stanley, Immaculata guard 1972-1976
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Monday, March 17, 2008

McGahie Named Comets COO

Hilton Koch, Houston Comets Owner and Chief Executive Officer today announced that he has named Robert “Bob” McGahie to the newly created position of President and Chief Operating Officer. McGahie has served as Interim COO since November 2007.

In his new role, McGahie will work collaboratively with Koch on the team’s day-to-day business operations and foster long-term strategic planning in the areas of corporate partnerships, marketing, ticket sales and services, game operations and events, and public and community relations. He will report directly to Koch.

“Bob and I have worked together since shortly after my purchase of the team,” said Hilton Koch. “During that early period, we spent a lot of time forming new relationships with local businesses. His passion for the Comets and women’s basketball and his business development expertise are two important reasons why I chose him for this position.”

Before joining the Comets staff, McGahie was a management consultant for the National Basketball Association assigned to advise Koch on business matters regarding the Comets ownership transition in 2007. McGahie brings more than 18 years of experience with professional sports teams, having previously served as vice president, corporate partnerships for the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes in 2006. During his time with that team, he simultaneously provided financial analysis to associate companies, including the National Lacrosse League’s Arizona Sting and additional Glendale Arena properties.

Prior to that, McGahie also worked as corporate sales manager for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and contributed more than $6.3 million in revenue toward both franchises and Target Center. Previously, McGahie has held roles with Triple Crown Sports, Inc., Roller Hockey International, Inc. and filled freelance sports sales and television production positions with ABC Sports and CBS Sports.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

A&M Wins Big 12 Tourney

The Texas A&M Aggies captured their first-ever Big 12 Tournament Championship with a thrilling 64 to 59 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowgirls Saturday night inside Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, MO.

The Aggies (26-7) became the first No. 4 seed in league history to capture the tournament title. The Aggies earned an automatic bid for the second time in school history since the 1995-96 season when they won the Southwest Conference Tournament.

A'Quonesia Franklin led the Aggies with 19 points including four free throws in the final 23 seconds of the game to seal the win.

The Aggies led the Cowgirls (25-7) by nine at halftime (33 to 24); but, Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley kept her team in the game throughout the second half.

Riley scored a game-high 28 points including a ridiculously tough three-point shot against very tough defense by A&M's Takia Starks with 25.4 seconds left in the game. The basket trimmed the Aggies lead to 60 to 59; however, Franklin was fouled and went to the foul line and made both free throws to put the Aggies ahead by three points.

Oklahoma State failed to score on their possession and Franklin was fouled once again; and, she made both free throws once again for the final score.

"You just saw a heck of a basketball game," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair. "I am so happy to be a part of something of this magnitude and the hospitality has been great here in Kansas City."

Starks was named Most Outstanding Player as she averaged a team-leading 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds over the course of three tournament games. Starks scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds versus Oklahoma State.

Junior forward Danielle Gant added 11 points while senior Morenike Atunrase scored 14 points off the Aggies' bench.

Franklin was named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team along with Iowa State’s Heather Ezell and Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley and Danielle Green.

"We are a veteran team and have been together the last four years," Franklin said after the game. "We’ve learned to play with each other. We’ve won nine straight and our chemistry is just great on defense."

A&M will learn its postseason destination and seed in the upcoming 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on Selection Monday to be held on March 17. The selection show will be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 6 p.m. (CT).
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Aggies Reach Big 12 Final

With the chances to earn a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament improving by the day, the fourth-seeded and No. 11-ranked Texas A&M Aggies took another step toward that goal Thursday night with a 65 to 53 win over Iowa State in the semifinals of the 2008 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship in Kansas City, MO.

Aggies senior guard / forward Morenike Atunrase led all scorers with 19 points -- off the bench. Takia Starks added 15 points for the red-hot Aggies.

The Aggies have have won 12 of their last 13 games of the season and are riding a conference-best eight-game winning streak. A&M became the first No. 4 seed in league history to advance to the championship game and claimed only its fifth all-time win in the tourney. The Aggies limited Iowa State to just 6 for 26 (23.1%) from the three-point line.

The Aggies will face third-seeded Oklahoma State (25-6) in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday, March 15, at 6 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net. OSU and A&M have only met once in postseason play. The eighth-seeded Cowgirls defeated the ninth-seeded Aggies (92-76) in the first round of the 2002 Tournament in Kansas City.


Note: Big 12 Women’s Basketball Attendance Close to a Million


Big 12 Women’s Basketball needs 5,406 more patrons to reach the million-fan plateau for the second consecutive year and third time overall.

Entering Saturday’s final game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship, the league’s total attendance for the 2007-08 season is 994,594. This includes all home games, plus five sessions of the postseason tournament.

The Big 12 first recorded one million fans in 2001-02 with 1,002,251 and hit the milestone again in 2006-07 with an NCAA record 1,023,576.

The Big 12 is the only league in NCAA history to draw one million fans.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Current Comets Roster

First things first, I know Tina Thompson, Michelle Snow, and LaTasha Byears have not (yet) been re-signed by the Houston Comets.

Therefore, the three of them were not considered when I contacted the Comets and asked:

Which players are currently signed for the 2008 season?

Here's the answer I was given:

The following players are confirmed:
Tamecka Dixon
Erin Grant
Shannon Johnson
Anastasia Kostaki
Sancho Lyttle
Mwadi Mabika
Megan Mahoney
Hamchetou Maiga-Ba
Ashley Shields
Crystal Smith
Mistie Williams


Obviously, one name stood out to me: Anastasia Kostaki.

I asked about her; and, here's the answer I got:
Well, she still has an option on her pre-existing contract.
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Comets, Rice, and UH News

Friday was a busy day for a few Houston area women's teams.

The Houston Lady Cougars' season ended abruptly thanks to
a 71 - 67 loss to Southern Miss in a quarterfinal game of the 2008 Conference USA Basketball Tournament. UH led Southern Miss 39 to 22 at one point; but, Southern Miss took control in the second half and held on for the win. Houston's starting backcourt of seniors Tye Jackson (4 points, 1 for 7 from the field) and Twiggy McIntyre (o points, 0 for 4) combined for a miniscule four points.

The Lady Cougars end the season with a 15 and 16 record.

The Houston Comets made news with the
free agent signing of veteran guard Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson to a multi-year contract.

Johnson, 33, played with the Detroit Shock last season. She should be an upgrade for the Comets in the backcourt.

Lastly, the Rice Owls lost to Texas-El Paso (
80 to 71) in another quarterfinal game at the Conference USA Tournament.

Rice (14-18) led the top-seeded Miners 34 to 28 before UTEP's Jareica Hughes, the C-USA Player of the Year, erupted for 29 of her game-high 33 points in the second half.


This loss ends the career of Owls' seniors Kadie Riverin, Valeriya Berezhynska and Tiffany Loggins.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

Big 12 Announces Honors

Guiding her Kansas State team to a first place finish in the Big 12 has earned head coach Deb Patterson Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.

The more things change the more they stay the same as Oklahoma's Courtney Paris won her second-consecutive Big 12 Player of the Year honor. Paris was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Texas Tech's Dominic Seals was voted Big 12 Newcomer of the Year while Oklahoma guard Danielle Robinson was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Texas A&M senior wing Morenike Atunrase was named Big 12 Six Man (uh, Woman or Player) of the Year.

The Big 12 also announced the members to the
all Big 12 First and Second Team as well as honorable mentions; All-Defense Team; and All--Rookie Team.


Weekly Honors Announced

The Big also announced the final Player and Rookie of the Week winners for the 2007 - 2008 season.

Shalee Lehning (Kansas State) was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball
Player of the Week while Brittany Spears (Colorado) was chosen Rookie of the Week by a media voting panel for games of March 5-6. Lehning was honored for the second time in her career while Spears was honored for the fourth time this year.

Over the last four games, Lehning is averaging 20 points on a .643 field goal percentage (27-of-42) and is 25-of-30 (.833) from the free throw line. The 5-9 junior guard is also averaging 10 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Spears, the 6-1 forward, continues to lead all Big 12 freshmen in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg), is second in steals (1.8 spg) and free-throw percentage (.857), and fourth in assists (1.8 apg).
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Comets Acquire Mahoney

Yesterday evening, the Houston Comets announced they've acquired guard / forward Megan Mahoney from the Connecticut Sun in exchange for forward Barbara Turner.

"We are excited about the addition of Megan," Comets head coach and General Manager Karleen Thompson. "Not only is she a great shooter, she is also versatile player who can play three positions. I believe she is capable of contributing to the team in a big way."
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Ags 73, OU 59

Well, so much for a close ball game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Oklahoma Sooners. The Aggies defeated the Sooners 73 to 59 before 5,043 fans gathered at Reed Arena on Senior Night. With the win (and a win by Oklahoma State over Baylor), Texas A&M clinched the fourth seed in next week's Big 12 Tournament and knocked the Sooners to the 5th seed. Ironically, if OU wins their first round match-up against 12th seed Missouri (Tuesday, March 11, 2:30pm), OU and Texas A&M will square off once again in the quarterfinals (Wednesday, March 12, 2:30pm).

Texas A&M (23-7, 11-5) led OU 33 to 26 at halftime. Both teams struggled to take good care of the basketball in the first half. Oklahoma (21-7, 11-5) turned the ball over 12 times while A&M committed 11 turnovers.

The Aggies used a 29 to 10 second-half run to blow the game wide open. A&M led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

“It was a good solid game,” said Aggies head coach Gary Blair after the game. “Our shot selection was excellent in the first half. We were shooting mid-range shots, because we could not get into the hole because of the Paris twins. I thought we did a good job particularly on Ashley Paris and Amanda Thompson. It was a very good defensive effort by our team. I wasn’t really pleased with how the game ended. We let them right back into the ballgame with our inability to hit free throws and our turnovers.”

With the Aggies leading 64 to 38 at the 5:22 mark of the second half, the only drama to remain in the game would be if OU's Courtney Paris could extend her spectacular double-double streak to 89 consecutive games.

Paris grabbed seven rebounds in the game's final five minutes to finish with 11 rebounds to go along with her game-high 27 points.

“I thought one of the huge keys to the game is what we did with (Courtney) Paris on the boards,” said Coach Blair. “She got eight rebounds in the last six minutes of the game mainly off of our missed frees throws. We weren’t trying to get her from keeping her from getting a double-double. That was the furthest thing from our mind. We wanted her to work for everything and she was having to do it.”

Other than Courtney Paris (11 for 18 from the field), the Sooners struggled to make shot attempts. OU finished the game 23 for 67 (34.3%) from the field.

“We just needed to make some shots,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “They do a great job of pressuring the basketball. It was a very physical game, hard for us to get loose.”

Junior forward Danielle Gant led the Aggies with 21 points -- on her 21st birthday -- and a game-high 12 rebounds.

“Twenty-one points on (Danielle) Gant’s 21st birthday, there’s your headline,” joked Coach Blair.
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sooners at Aggies

I know tonight's Oklahoma Sooners - Texas A&M Aggies match-up will air on FSN (7:30pm CST); but, I decided to drive to College Station and see the game in person.

I drove through pouring rain the entire way here. Rain; rain; go away!

I'm at Reed Arena; and, I get word the
Houston Comets acquired Megan Mahoney from the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Barb Turner. Interesting move.

Back to tonight's HUGE game.


This game is huge for both teams because a first-round bye in next week's Big 12 Conference Tournament is on the line.

If OU wins
…Oklahoma will be the No. 3 seed.
…and OSU wins, OSU will be the No. 4 seed and Texas A&M will be the No. 5 seed.
…and OSU loses, Texas A&M will be the No. 4 seed and OSU will be the No. 5 seed.

If Texas A&M wins
…and OSU wins, OSU is the No. 3 seed and A&M is the No. 4 seed.
…and OSU loses, A&M is the No. 3 seed and Oklahoma is the No. 4 seed.

In the Big 12 Tournament
…the No. 5 seed plays the No. 12 seed in the first round. The winner of that game plays the No. 4 seed in the second round.
…the No. 3 seed plays the winner of the No. 6/No. 11 game.

In addition to those scenarios, tonight is Senior Night for five Aggies: Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.), A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas), LaToya Gulley (Fayetteville, Ark.), Katy Pounds (Shallowater, Texas) and Patrice Reado (Houston, Texas).

Since their freshman campaign in 2004-05, A&M has posted a total of 38 league victories over the last four years combined.

Oklahoma is 21 and 6 overall and 11 and 4 in conference while A&M is 22 and 7 overall and 10 and 5 in Big 12 play.

Tonight's game should be a good one.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Owls Prep for C-USA Tourney

The 2008 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament begins tomorrow, March 6, in Orlando, FL. Four games will be held tomorrow in the opening round of the tourney; and, the Rice Owls (9th seed) will face East Carolina (8th seed) in a 7pm (CST) match-up.

The Owls (13-17, 6-10) should carry some momentum into the game. The Owls have won their last three ball games and five of their last seven; and, one of the wins was over East Carolina (13-16, 6-10). In fact, the two teams played just five days ago in a closely contested game which Rice won 69 to 62 on the Owls' Senior Day.

Owls head coach Greg Williams is uncertain which teams holds an advantage in this unique scenario of facing the same team five days later.

"We get a rematch with East Carolina who we just played in the final regular-season game," said Williams. "I don't think either coach is really excited about that situation; but, that's what it is.

"You don't know which side of the coin do you want to be -- the team that won knowing you can win and battle your team being a little over confident or do you want to be on the other side where you lost a tough, hard game and tell your team 'We do this, this, and this and the little things and we beat a team that just beat us.'

"Both coaches will be using both motivational ploys to get your team ready to play a team you just played five days ago.

"We're addressing it like it's the NBA Playoffs and it's Game 7 -- win or perish -- or, hopefully, win and advance."

As was the case for much of this season, the Owls will not be at full strength for the tournament.

"Maudess Fulton (redshirt junior wing player) was held out of our most recent game against East Carolina," Williams added. "She's got tendinitis in both of her Achilles'. She's very questionable for the Conference Tournament. She won't practice any before we play. If we get an opportunity to play four games in four days, she can't do that. That (her absence) really thins our depth on the perimeter. We're going to have Memri Carmon and Brittney Hudson, our two freshmen, step up and play well as well as Kadie (Kadie Riverin) and Tara Watts stay out of foul trouble."

UTEP is the number one seed in the Tournament. The Miners (25-2) went 16 and 0 during the conference regular season and have won 21 straight ball games; however, Coach Williams believes the C-USA Tournament is up for grabs.

"Any team can win this tournament; and, that includes UCF. They're playing on their home court. They're young. Nothing would surprise me. That's why seven teams got votes in the pre-season poll -- to win it. There are no gimme wins from here on out. Shot goes in; shot goes out. A key player turns an ankle. There are a lot of variables at this time of year, the team that can sustain through it and put together three, or in our case four, great days of basketball will win. I really think any of the twelve teams can be crowned as champion.

"We're very capable of advancing and doing some damage in this tournament because we're playing some very good basketball right now. I think the frame of mind of the team is they're excited; and, as a coach, you couldn't ask for more than that."
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C-USA Announces Honors

This season, Texas-El Paso (UTEP) completed an undefeated conference (16-0) season in Conference USA.

Naturally, the team should be expected to receive a few honors to recognize such a fantastic feat.

Bingo!

UTEP was awarded
three of the top six individual accolades.

After leading UTEP to its best season ever, sophomore guard Jareica Hughes was voted the 2008 Conference USA Player of the Year, the league office announced today. UTEP's Natasha Lacy was voted the C-USA Newcomer of the Year, while head coach Keitha Adams was selected the Coach of the Year. Taking C-USA Freshman of Year honors was UCF rookie Tia Lewis, while another freshman, UAB's Amanda Peterson, captured the league's Sixth Player of the Year award. The 2008 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year award went to SMU's Sharee Shepherd.

Tuesday, C-USA announced the
2008 All-Conference Conference USA Basketball Teams.

UAB's Diamond Rogers and SMU's Janielle Dodds, two seniors who have left an indelible mark on Conference USA women's basketball, were among those named to the 2008 All-Conference USA teams, the league announced Tuesday. Both players captured first-team honors along with UTEP's Jareica Hughes, Houston's Twiggy McIntyre and Southern Miss' Pauline Love. The league also announced All-Freshmen and All-Defensive teams.

The University of Houston
had four players named to all C-USA squads. In addition to McIntyre being named to the First Team, Tye Jackson earned third-team honors, making her only the third player in school history to win all-league accolades three times. Chandi Jones (4) and Pat Luckey (3) are the others.

Cobilyn Hill (Houston, Texas/Eisenhower HS) and Courtney Taylor (Crockett, Texas/Crockett HS) were both named to the All-Freshman Team, the first time the Cougars have played two first-year players on the team.

The Cougars (15-15) earned the No. 4 seed in the 2008 C-USA Women's Basketball Championship and will face either No. 5 Southern Miss or No. 12 UCF Friday, March 7, at 4:30 p.m. CST at New UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla.

Despite playing in just half of the 16 conference games due to ankle injures, Valeriya Berezhynska, the senior center for the Rice Owls, was named to the
C-USA Second Team.

Rice faces East Carolina Thursday, March 6, at 7pm CST in the C-USA Tournament opening round.
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Monday, March 03, 2008

Comets' Statement on Swoopes

Houston Comets, and women's basketball legend, Sheryl Swoopes has signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Storm.

Here's a statement from the Comets' organization on Swoopes' signing with the Storm:

Sheryl Swoopes will not return to play with the Houston Comets for the 2008 season. She is a trailblazer and an incomparable contributor to the legacies of the Houston Comets, the WNBA and the game of women's basketball. There is no question that her absence will be felt by the Comets franchise and all the Houston fans who continue to support her career. We're excited for her and wish her well as she embarks on this new opportunity.
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Swoopes to Seattle

Sheryl Swoopes, women's basketball legend, has signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Storm.

I've known since January Swoopes was seriously contemplating not re-signing with the Houston Comets; but, I was unable to get direct comments from her about her free agent plans for the 2008 WNBA season.

Well, apparently, Swoopes has decided to leave the Comets and sign with the Storm.

Clearly, signing Swoopes is a huge move by Seattle; however, Swoopes missed most of the 2007 WNBA season with a bulging disc in her back and she has battled injuries the last few seasons. Swoopes said in a recent ESPN.com chat she is in great shape now; so, time will tell how healthy Swoopes is this season.
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Owls Berezhynska Wins Honor

Rice Owls senior center Valeriya Berezhynska finished her Owls regular season career in style last week; and, as a result of her fantastic performances last week, Val was named Conference USA Player of the Week today.

Berezhynska paced Rice to a pair of home victories over East Carolina and Marshall to close out the regular season and tallied a complete effort averaging 23.0 points, 19.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. She knocked down 50 percent of her shots from the floor (17-of-36) and hit a stellar 90 percent from the free throw line (18-of-20). Berezhynska has compiled four consecutive double-doubles and has reached the 20-point plateau in four of her last five outings.

The 23 points against East Carolina allowed Berezhynska to surpass Krystal Frazier (2004-07) and moved into 11th place on Rice’s career scoring list. With Rice behind 39-29 with 16 minutes left in the second half against ECU, Berezhynska scored 17 of her game-high 23 points in the second half. She also grabbed 19 rebounds and added career-best five steals.

The Ukraine native opened the weekend by racking up 23 points and matched a career-best 20 rebounds. The 20 rebounds also equaled a C-USA high for the season. On the defensive end, Berezhynska also matched a career-best four blocks.

This is Berezhynska third player of the week honor this season.
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Saturday, March 01, 2008

UH loses by 4 on Senior Day

"Man, Kris, we lost...on Senior Day."

Twiggy McIntyre's comments summed up everything as the Houston Lady Cougars lost to Marshall 78 to 74 at Hofheinz Pavilion in front of 623 fans on Houston's Senior Day.

Marshall's Casey Baker (28) and Kizzy Hart (27) combined for 55 points.

"They were scoring at will," McIntyre added. "We had problems containing their backcourt and their front court."

McIntyre led Houston (15-15, 9-7) in scoring with 20 points. She made six of her nine three-point field goal attempts. Senior Tye Jackson scored 14 points and dished eight assists; however, with UH down 77 to 74, Jackson drew the fifth foul on Kizzy Hart while attempting a three-point shot.

Jackson stepped to the foul line and missed all three foul shots.

"I was thinking too much," said Jackson. "I was thinking 'I can't miss. I can't miss.' And, that's what I did. It's disappointing. I have to let this one go. I'm not going to forget it. I'll have to make up for this next week at the Conference Tournament."

Hart scored 11 points to help Marshall (15-15, 7-9) to a 17 to 9 lead six and a half minutes into the game; but, Houston outscored MU 25 to 12 to finish the half and take a 34 to 29 lead into the locker room.

Hart scored 16 first half points. Jackson scored eight and McIntyre added nine points for Houston.

After scoring the first two points of the second half, Houston was outscored 11 to 1 as Hart and Baker took turns lighting up Houston's defense.

"They had two guards we couldn't stop," added Jackson. "They kept scoring on us."

With the game tied at 45, UH went on a 11 to 5 run to lead Marshal 56 to 50 with 11:40 remaining in the game. Hart drained a three-point shot; then, after a made lay-up by Marshall's Kendra King, Baker put Marshall ahead (57 to 56) with a made jump shot.

After Houston's Zane Jakobsone tied the game at 60, Baker scored nine of Marshall's final 18 points to help Marshall defeat Houston.

"Our kids played awfully hard," said Houston's interim head coach Danny Hughes. "We couldn't contain their two guards. We allowed them too much space at the start of the game and they got into a rhythm.

"We would have liked to go out on a better note; but, we have to give Marshall a lot of credit."

"In order for us to win the C-USA Tournament, we're going to have to defend for three hard days and do a better job."
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