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).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lady Coogs 74, Akron 59

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Lady Cougars continued their solid start to the 2008 - 2009 season with a hard fought 74 to 59 victory Sunday afternoon over the Akron Zips inside Hofheinz Pavilion.

Neither team shot the ball well from the field or the foul line; but, Houston's record improves to 8 and 3 on the season. UH shot 35.3% (24 for 68) from the field and 62.2% (23 for 37 from the free throw line). Akron shot 37.7% (23 for 61 from the field) and 41.2% (7 for 17) from the foul line.

Houston's Courtney Taylor recorded her fourth straight double-double with 16 points (7 for 15 from the field and 2 for 7 from the charity stripe) and 12 rebounds. Taylor received much needed low post scoring from teammate Cobilyn Hill. Hill added 15 points (7 for 12 from the field) and five rebounds.

"I just went out and played hard and did what I had to do," Hill said. "I hand the disposition to dominate and just went out there and took care of business."

The Lady Cougars trailed the Zips 22 to 19 late in the first half; but, they finished the half with a 14 to 0 run to lead 33 to 22 at the half. UH sophomore guard Brittney Scott drained a three-point shot at the buzzer to cap off the run.

Taylor missed eight of her 11 shots in the first half and most of them were from close range; but, she did pull down nine boards in the half. Taylor was much better around the bucket in the second half.

"Second half, I just tried to concentrate on doing the little things," Taylor added. "Basically, I just put my focus on rebounding because, at the beginning of the game, my lay ups weren't falling then my free throws weren't falling. So, I tried to do everything else that was actually going right for me."

Scott added 10 points and seven rebounds while freshman guard Roxana Button scored 11 points and pulled down five boards. Brittany Mason added eight points and nine rebounds.

"I felt like for the first game back (after exams) and having the time off," said UH head coach Joe Curl. "I thought we had a lot of people step up and play well. Cobi played well and hit some key baskets and made life miserable for the other team a little bit. I really credit the kids. They really played which countered the things we didn't do right. We certainly have to get better heading to Kansas on New Year's Eve."
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Saint Discusses Comets and ATL

HOUSTON, TX -- Sancho Lyttle, former post player for the disbanded Houston Comets (still not used to that), was at Hofheinz Pavilion Sunday afternoon watching her alma mater, the Houston Lady Cougars defeat the Akron Zips 74 to 59 in front of 419 fans.

After the win, Lyttle took time to discuss the Comets' disbanding and her new WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream.

"It was about 2 a.m. in Spain," said Saint. "I got an email saying to call this lady from the league; and, she told me that the team was going to be more."

"I was suprised (by the news); but, I wasn't shocked because I was hearing before that the team wasn't going to be in Houston, stuff like that, so when it did happen, I was surprised but I wasn't shocked."

As far as being chosen by the Atlanta Dream with the top pick in the WNBA's Dispersal Draft, Lyttle believes the move will benefit her career.

"Right now, I think it's a good opportunity for me. It's a new start from everything else that's been going on. I just have to wait and see until I get there how the coaching staff is and what they want in their program."

Lastly, Lyttle apologized to the Comets fans for the team's sad end.

"I'm sorry that the team had to fold; but, this a business, and, I wish everybody else who went some place good luck. Hopefully, the fans will continue to support those players who were on the Comets' team."
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Aggies Top TCU 64-50

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies improved to 10 and 0 on the season with an impressive 64 to 50 victory over the TCU Lady Frogs in a battle of two top 25 teams in front of 5,395 fans inside Reed Arena.

The Lady Frogs led the Aggies 9 to 6 four minutes into the game; however, the Aggies limited the Lady Frogs to just 14 points the final 15 plus minutes of the first half.

Texas A&M senior guard Takia Starks scored 18 points in the first half (7 for 10 from the field) and helped the Aggies take a 35 to 21 lead into the locker room. Starks finished the game with a team-high 21 points.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half. TCU shot 27.8% (5 for 18) while the Aggies shot 35.9% (14 for 39) from the field.

The Aggies picked up nine steals in the first half and forced TCU to turn the ball over 13 times in the first half and a season-high 23 times in the ball game.

TCU's head coach Jeff Mittie praised the Aggies' pressure defense.

"It's the best pressure we've seen. All five; and, not five, they run them in. He's (Aggies' head coach Gary Blair) got a deep bench. Gary's done an excellent job with this program and this team."

TCU (8-4) found a better rhythm offensively in the second half and scored a few lay ups on back door cuts; but, the Ags never allowed the Lady Frogs to get any closer than six points in the second half.

"We just couldn't make that one run to get into it. We couldn't make enough shots to get back into it."

TK LaFleur led the Lady Frogs with a game-high 22 points. LaFleur shot 8 for 18 from the field; but, she also committed nine turnovers.

Aggies senior center LaToya Micheaux pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds and picked up a game-high four steals.

Micheaux says she and her teammates have set very high standards for this season.

"Undefeated. It starts from our regular season. We want to win a ring there. We want to go to the tournament and win a ring there because this is the best team that I've played on. We have the talent to take it to that level."

Coach Blair had a different take on the Aggies' going undefeated.

"We take it one game at a time. You saw what happened to New England (Patriots) in football last year. The 10 and 0 start feels good because of the body of work we have put in from the first week of August until now."

The undefeated Aggies will enjoy Christmas Break for the next few days before returning to practice and preparing for a December 30th home game versus New Mexico.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

TSU Trying to Change Losing Mindset

HOUSTON, TX -- Yolanda Wells-Broughton is in her first season as head coach at Texas Southern University. She comes from successful basketball programs at Trinity Valley TCU and LSU; so, Coach Broughton knows about winning. Texas Southern has not been a successful basketball program for years; and, lately, TSU only knows about losing. Changing that losing mindset is a constant challenge for Coach Broughton.

"Most definitely. That's just about every game and every other practice. Constantly. At times, we can turn the corner; but, the players don't quite believe it until you get the results. That's really where we struggling; and, of course, if you have not had that experience and it's been long since we won a game. We beat Lafayette (Louisiana Lafayette to start the season. TSU has lost six straight since that win.) and became a little delusional; and, now we have settled back into our complacency stage."

TSU (1-6) hosts Sam Houston State (1-8) Saturday afternoon at the H&PE Arena. Tip is set for 2 p.m.
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Caldwell Grades Her Team and Looks to Pac 10

HOUSTON, TX -- The Rice Owls played UCLA this past Wednesday inside Tudor Fieldhouse. UCLA won the game 82 to 64 and after the game, in addition to interviewing Rice players and Coach Greg Williams, I also interviewed UCLA's head coach Nikki Caldwell.

After nine seasons as an assistant coach at Virginia and her alma mater Tennessee, Coach Caldwell is in her first season as head coach at UCLA; and, besides getting her thoughts on the win over Rice, we discussed the upcoming Pac 10 conference season and how her squad (currently 8-1) is playing thus far this season.

"I think the players have bought into our philosophy and what our defensive system is," Caldwell said. "I think they're reaping the benefits of when you do play hard-nosed defense and you do get after it. I'm pleased in their efforts in trying to be that defensive team that you have to be in March to win."

"Right now we're not playing 'A' basketball. Not for 40 minutes. We've had spurts where we've looked really good; but, we have yet to put together a 40 minute game where we play all out defense for 40 minutes; rebound; and not breaking down with our defensive assignments and being able to execute our offensive schemes. We're getting there. We're a work in progress. The one thing I shared with them is all we're looking for is daily improvement."

"When you hit Pac 10, you've got to make sure you take one game at a time and that we're not overlooking our opponents. Our defensive system and defensive scheme is not going to change. It's still going to be the same. No matter who we're playing, we're still going to use scouting report defense. Especially during the Pac 10, everybody is going to know what you like to do. You're going to know what they like to do. It's going to boil down to how you do it and the matter of execution. That's going to be a thing for us going into the Pac 10 because it's so competitive there. Pac 10 teams typically beat up on each other. We just don't want to be on the receiving end."
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Friday, December 19, 2008

#3 Ags Host #24 TCU Sunday

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Sunday afternoon, the weather is supposed to be "frightful"; so, do yourself a favor and drive from Houston to College Station and visit Reed Arena and watch a game which should be exciting to watch: the 9 and 0 Texas A&M Aggies host the 8 and 3 TCU Lady Frogs.

The Aggies are ranked in the top 5 in the country (#3 in the coaches' poll and #4 in the Associated Press) while TCU is ranked #24 and #25.

TCU has already to #3 ranked teams this season: No. 3 Maryland (80-68) on Nov. 14 and on the road at No. 3 Cal (82-73) on Dec. 7.

Tip - off is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be shown on ESPNU.

As part of the Aggies' "Holiday Hoops", tickets for the game are half-priced -- starting at $2.50!

And, of course, I'll be there.

Also, check out this article from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
"Women's Basketball in Texas as Good as Ever".
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Owls' Shorty and Bobbitt

HOUSTON, TX -- Shannon Bobbitt, all 5'3" of her, helped lead the Tennessee Lady Vols to back-to-back NCAA Championships in her two seasons at Tennessee. Bobbitt's solid play seems to have signaled a resurgence in smaller players having a positive impact in women's college basketball.

Jareica Hughes, 5'3", earned Conference USA Player of the Year honors last season and Hughes was tabbed as the Preseason C-USA Player of the Year of the Year for this season.

Rice University's D'Frantz Smart may not lead the Owls to an NCAA Championship in her time at Rice; however, Smart has already made a huge impact on the basketbal team despite her 4'11 3/4" size.

UCLA head coach Nikki Caldwell compared Smart to Bobbitt after UCLA defeated the Owls Wednesday night inside Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse. Smart scored 20 points against UCLA. Caldwell is in her first season as head coach at UCLA; but, she was an assistant coach at Tennessee the previous two seasons and she helped recruit Shannon Bobbitt to Tennessee.

"Very similar in their style of play. She (Smart) does a great job of pushing tempo. She's someone that you've got to know where she is at all times on the floor. She has the ability to not only get to the basket but also knock down threes. She has the ability to set up her teammates and make them look good which is very similar to what Shannon Bobbitt was able to do at this level as well."

Smart is only a freshman; but, she leads the Owls in scoring (15.6 ppg); assists (4.4 apg) and steals (2.1 spg); and, she's already been named Conference USA Player of the Week once this season.

Smart and the Owls (3 and 4) head to New York to play Hofstra Friday, December 19, before facing Lafayette in Easton, PA, on Sunday, December 21.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rice 64, UCLA 82

HOUSTON, TX -- I'm not going to discuss Wednesday's game between Rice and UCLA into much detail. Here's what you need to know. Rice outscored UCLA 64 to 62 for 32 minutes plus. However, UCLA won the ball game 82 to 64.

Calculate the math.

UCLA (8-1) jumped out to a 20 to 0 lead before the Owls scored a single point.

With 17:03 left in the first half, Rice head coach Greg Williams replaced his five starters hoping to light a spark under his club. At the point, the Owls trailed 8 to 0. The starters checked back into the game with 13:51 left in the first half. Rice (3-4) trailed 18 to 0.

UCLA led by as much as 27 points (31 to 4); however, to their credit, the Owls did not quit in the ball game. Rice pulled within 15 points twice during the second half.

Freshman point guard D'Frantz Smart, once again, led the Owls in scoring with 20 points.  Sophomore forward Morgan Mayse posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Brianna Hypolite scored 10 points off the Owls' bench.

UCLA placed five players in double figures led by 16 points from sophomore guard Doreena Campbell.

Needless to say, the Owls' post-game comments focused on the awful start to the ball game.

"The first 12 minutes is what killed us," said D'Frantz Smart. "That definitely made it hard for us to come back and win the ball game. Whenever a team starts like that, it's going to be pretty hard to win. I heard we won the last 28 minutes but we were still down by 20 to start the game."

Brianna Hypolite added, "Coach Williams tried something different when he took out the first half and put in the new five and we still couldn't produce anything. That 20 to 0 really caught us off guard. After a couple of times-out, the coaches were saying we really need to go out there and play with some pride and that's what we did."

Hypolite was very candid in her opinion of what caused the team's slow start.

"I don't know. Maybe lack of focus. I think some of our team members weren't ready to play as much as others. By the time they realized what they needed to do, it was too late. We looked up at the clock and the scoreboard and it was too late by the time."

Smart concurred and added, "Lack of focus. Lack of toughness. I think that had something to do with it. They had 40 points in the paint. That's just about playing with heart. If people want to be basketball players, instead of just coming out here and just bow down to UCLA, we should all look at the opponent as just somebody else we play. When we come out with that focus, we'll be a pretty good basketball team; but, until then, we're going to struggle."

Owls' coach Greg Williams didn't mince any words with his remarks either.

"I'm very disappointed in the way we started the game. Obviously. 20 to 0. We weren't ready. We've seen this happen before here; and, we addressed (with the players) before the game. After finals at Rice, Rice women's basketball teams in the past have just come out and cratered. We tried to bring it to their attention that finals are over and it's time to focus."

Williams could tell his team wasn't ready.

"Our practice Tuesday was...they were forgetting things. Just basic stuff. That's the way we started the game. We were back on our heels. We weren't aggressive. We looked like we had never been taught how to break a 2-2-1 press even though we worked on it for three days."

One of the Owls' biggest weaknesses has been the play of the front court players.

"They killed us inside," said Coach Williams. "We knew they were bigger. Our inside presence is pretty much non-existent right now on the defensive end; and, that's why we tried to get into the press and make it into a 94-foot game but that led to numerous lay-ups for them. But, that's the only way we thought we could generate a little excitement and energy from our team. At least we did that the last 28 minutes of the game."
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Rice vs. UCLA

HOUSTON, TX -- The Rice Owls (3-3) are getting ready to face the UCLA Bruins (7-1) at 5:00 p.m. CST inside Tudor Fieldhouse. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Rice Owls' men's basketball team. Judging by this sparse crowd, I'm not sure the fans realize this game time was moved up from the original 7 o'clock start.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lady Coogs Beat Cal Poly

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Lady Cougars improved to 6 and 2 this season with a solid 68 to 57 victory over Cal Poly in front of 417 fans inside Hofheinz Pavilion Sunday afternoon. Freshman guard Roxana Button scored a career-high 18 points and sophomore forward Courtney Taylor also scored a career-high with 22 points. Taylor also added 15 rebounds to give herself a nice birthday present one day after turning 20 years old.

However, sophomore forward Brittany Mason proved to be an unsung hero for the Lady Cougars in the game. Mason started for the first time in her college career; and, in 25 minutes of game action, she scored six points; pulled down five rebounds; blocked one shot; dished one assist; and picked up three steals.

After the game, Mason said she wasn't nervous in her first start.

"I didn't think I was nervous," said Mason. "But, it showed on the court. But, I didn't feel nervous. I get jittery and I get to moving my fingers; and, I'm just thinking 'Come on Brittany pick it up. Pick it up.' When I was taken out of the game (for a sub), nobody griped at me. They talked to me and that also helped. I wasn't nervous; but, I just didn't start the game playing hard; but, I picked it up in the end."

In the first half, Mason had just one rebound and one assist in seven minutes of play. Mason broke a 28-28 tie with a steal and a fast-break lay up. Then, she put UH ahead 40 to 33 with a sweet driving lay up at the 13:31 mark of the second half.

"Her full court lay up in transition shows how much she's grown as a basketball player," said UH head coach Joe Curl. (Mason was more of a track athlete in high school than a basketball player.)

Cal Poly carved up Houston's porous defense in the first half with eight lay ups. However, despite shooting just 32.4% (11 for 34) from the field and being out rebounded 26 to 18, UH led 27 to 26 at halftime.

The Lady Cougars limited Cal Poly's lay up drill in the second half and forced Cal Poly to shoot more shots from the perimeter. Cal Poly entered the game shooting 39.2% from three-point range; but, Houston limited Poly to 0 for 9 shooting in the first half from The Land of Three and just 2 for 19 (10.5%) for the entire game.

"Defensively, I think we did really, really well," said Courtney Taylor after the game. "We played a lot of zone and a lot of man-to-man. We switched up our defenses and I think that confused them. Our main focus was to keep everybody in front of us; and, that's what we did. I think our defense carried over to our offense."

Taylor scored 13 of her 22 points in the first half; but, she picked up nine of her 15 rebounds in the second half.

The Lady Coogs took advantage of their quickness and attacked Cal Poly's defense in the second half.

"We realized we had the advantage on quickness so we tried to go to the basket," added Taylor.

Houston shot 35 free throws in the game and made 24. Cal Poly was only 5 for 5 from the foul line.

Roxana Button stayed in attack mode in the second 20 minutes. Button shot nine free throws in the second half (and made seven). Button scored a runner in the paint which started a 10 to 0 Lady Cougars' run to put Cal Poly away.

"The first half I was more laid," said Taylor. "The second half I wanted it more; and, as a team, we realized we had to put them away instead of let them hang around in the second half."

Despite the 6 and 2 record, Coach Joe Curl believes his team will continue improving throughout the season.

"I think our team is sixty to sixty-five percent of how good it can be."
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Coop, Comets and H-town Schools

HOUSTON, TX -- Thanks to Cynthia Cooper for appearing on KCOH 1430 AM this past Friday evening. Coop did me a favor by appearing on Sports Rap. Her appearance wasn't planned at all. We were playing phone tag earlier in the day because I wanted to get her thoughts on her team's (Prairie View A&M) two point loss (58 to 56) to Rutgers last Thursday. Once we finally connected, I was at the radio station so during our talk I asked her if she had time to speak with her "cousin", Mr. Ralph Cooper, for a few minutes. She said, "No problem."

During her time on the air, Coop mentioned she had heard the WNBA was going to keep the Houston Comets' banners and other property until, hopefully, another franchise was in Houston.

Interesting, huh?

Well, the Comets aren't in Houston right now; but, I'll continue covering the Houston area women's college teams. I know many people (including their own adminstrators and marketing departments) don't support those teams; but, I cover the teams because I believe those teams deserve the recognition just like their male counterparts. The women's teams at Prairie View (2007); Rice (2005); and Houston (2005) have eached participated in the NCAA Tournament more recently than the men's teams at those same schools; but, you'd never know it.

Without a doubt, H-town is football country. Then, the Rockets. Then, the Astros. Then, UT football. Then, Texas A&M football. Then, UH football and men's basketball and Rice baseball and perhaps football. Then, Texas Southern athletics; Prairie View athletics; and Houston Baptist athletics.

The majority of Comets fans are not fans of the local women's college teams; and, I doubt that will change even without the Comets in town. However, as long as UH, HBU, PV, and Rice have women's basketball teams, I'll continue covering them as best I can.

By the way, the 9 and 0 Texas A&M Aggies women's basketball team is currently ranked number 3 in the country. I cover them, too. 
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Thoughts on W and Comets

HOUSTON, TX -- Since the Comets are no more and I enjoy covering women's college hoops more than the W, I'm not sure how much more I'll write about the WNBA. However, check this out...

I still do not understand why the Comets had to disband. Let me explain...

In this My Fox Houston article, WNBA President Donna Orender is quoted saying: "All of our energies were focused on finding a viable ownership group in the city of Houston. As such, going really to the wire with a group that expressed an interest and desire to keep it there, at some point, you can't start in another city. We're really too late to be able to drive success in another market. We were really focused on driving success in the Houston market."

My answer to her statement is REALLY?!

When I wrote the post "Comets Sold?", that was based on three different sources telling me what they were told. Each source was connected with the Comets -- either directly or indirectly. I wrote the post because I was tired of the secrecy and I wanted to get a definitive answer regarding what was going on with the Comets. News about the Comets' disbanding was announced just a few days after my post.

This past Saturday, a few more basketball people I know told me they had heard the Comets were going to be sold. One source told me two different groups were interested in buying the team. Each source told me they were saddened and surprised at the news the Comets were disbanding. "If things were so bad, why didn't they ask for more help?" was one response I received from one source.

Now, chew on this tidbit, I was told Rice University was contacted by someone (I'm not sure by whom) associated with the Comets inquiring into the Comets' playing their games inside the new Tudor Fieldhouse in 2009. I received that info almost two weeks ago.

Therefore, if these sources are accurate, why did the WNBA choose to disband the Comets in 2009?

At the very least, the league could have run the team in 2009 with hopes more time would result in a more agreeable ownership situation for the league, the Comets' organization, and the Comets' fans.

I simply don't believe ALL of the options were explored before the WNBA's marquee franchise was allowed to fade away into the sunset.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ags Now Number 3

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies (8-0) continue reaching heights in this young season. Today, the Aggies moved up to a program-best number 3 ranking in the USA Today / ESPN Coaches Poll. On Monday, the Aggies were ranked a school-best number 4 in the Associated Press Poll.

In addition to that news, freshman sensation Adaora Elonu (Alief Elsik HS) was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. Elonu, 6'1" forward, averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks in the Aggies two wins last week over Stephen F. Austin (77  - 46) and SMU (80 - 48).

The Aggies, off for final exams, don't play another game until Saturday, December 13, versus Texas State. Tip - off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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Owls' Smart Earns Rookie Honor

HOUSTON, TX -- D'Frantz Smart, Rice Owls freshman guard, was  named the Rookie of the Week by Conference USA on Monday. Smart posted a career-high nine 26 points and nine assists in a 77 to 72 loss to the Texas-Arlington Mavericks on Saturday afternoon. Shorty, all 4'11 3/4" of her, also pulled down a career-best eight rebounds in the ball game.

East Carolina' senior guard LaCoya Terry was named C-USA Player of the Week.
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Dream Selects Saint

NEW YORK, NY -- Sancho Lyttle (a.k.a "Saint") was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the first pick in today's WNBA Dispersal Draft of Houston Comets players.

The Washington Mystics chose Matee Ajavon with the second pick while Mistie Williams was chosen by the Chicago Sky with the third pick. The Minnesota Lynx selected Roneeka Hodges with the fourth pick while the Phoenix Mercury chose Sequoia Holmes with the fifth pick. Erica White was selected by the Indiana Fever with pick number six and Renae Camino (Australia) was picked by the Sacramento Monarchs at the seventh spot.

No other eligible players were selected in the Dispersal Draft because the other six WNBA franchises each chose to pass.

Unrestricted free agents who were not eligible for selection included Latasha Byears, Mwadi Mabika, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, Michelle Snow and Tina Thompson. These players, along with anyone not selected in today's Dispersal Draft, may begin negotiating with any team once the free agency period begins on Monday, December 15.
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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ags Squash SMU

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Aggies showed the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the 3563 fans gathered inside Reed Arena what a nationally ranked number 4 team looks like when the team is clicking on all cylinders Sunday afternoon. The Aggies routed the Mustangs 80 to 48. After the game, Mustangs head coach Rhonda Rompola said this Aggies squad is "by far the best team I've seen him (Aggies head coach Gary Blair) put on the floor." 

Rhompola has coached at SMU for 18 seasons.

The Aggies (8-0) have been known for suffocating defense under Coach Blair's tenure; and, today was no different versus SMU (2-5). The Aggies forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over 26 times and limited SMU to just 17 for 56 (30.4%) from the field.

The Aggies offense also showed signs of life as well as depth, versatility and scoring potential. The Aggies 80 points marked their third consecutive game to 70 plus points this season. The Aggies scored 70 at Pepperdine on November 29, and 77 at Stephen F. Austin on December 2.

Fifteen Aggies played at least one minute in the ball game and ten scored. Senior guard Takia Starks led all scorers with 21 points on a very efficient performance. Starks shot 7 for 13 from the field overall including 2 for 5 from three and she made 5 of her 6 free throws. Senior forward Danielle Gant scored 13 points in 25 minutes of work while freshman forward Adaora Elonu added 12 points; eight rebounds; and four steals in just 23 minutes.

"I told our team that I felt like we played against the pressure (defense) in the country," Rompola added. "They have done a fantastic job getting this team to play together. Not only are they good; they're athletic; they're quick; they're physical; they're big; they get after you; and they work hard. It seems to me their chemistry is very good."

Coach Blair appreciated Rompola's very high praise of his team; but, though he stated he likes his team, "It's only December 7."

Blair added he'd give his team "a C" on offense.

"I'd like to reduce the turnovers. I'd like to get more consistency from the inside game. My point guards are dribbling while we're cutting. That means they have to be able to deliver the pass on time and that's why some of our set plans aren't working. But, they will in January; but, the defense will be better that we see when we get to the Big 12, too."
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rice Loses to UTA

HOUSTON, TX -- The Rice Owls played well in spurts Saturday versus the Texas-Arlington Mavericks; unfortunately, those good spurts were overshadowed by far too many bad minutes of basketball. Rice lost to the Mavericks 77 to 72 in front of 591 fans inside Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse.

D'Frantz Smart continued her stellar play leading the Owls with a team-high 26 points; nine assists; and eight rebounds. Smart scored 16 points in the first half thanks to 5 for 6 shooting from the field. She also dished out six assists in the opening 20 minutes to help the Owls lead the Mavericks 41 to 31 at halftime.

"Great first half. Horrible second half," said Smart after the game. "That's point blank. We came out after halftime with not much intensity. We came out like the game was over; and, in basketball, it's two halves."

UTA began the second half with a 15 to 2 scoring burst to lead the 46 to 43 with 16:25 left in the ball game. Mavericks' forward Candice Champion went to work in the post and dominated the Owls' defenders. Champion scored 14 points in the second half and made it look easy. Champion shot 6 for 7 from the field in just 14 second half minutes. She finished the game with a team-high 23 points.

Erin Dixon added 10 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for UTA. Shalyn Martin (11 points) and Tamara Simmons (12 points) also scored in double figures.

The Mavericks dominated the Owls in the paint. UTA outscored the Owls 36 to 22 in the paint; and, the truly bothersome thing for the Owls was their post players seemed defenseless how to stop the Mavericks from scoring down low.

"Quite honestly, we're a little shy in the post," said Owls head coach Greg Williams. "We're a little afraid of contact. We don't have enough toughness in there."

"We were giving them lay ups," said Williams. "Our post defense inside has not been good. We rotated five different post players. We didn't have the energy in transition."

The Mavericks scored 8 fast break points. Rice scored zero.

"We just played horrible defense (in the second half)," Smart added. "We stopped talking on defense. It was just horrible."

The Mavericks (3-4) led the Owls 66 to 57 with five minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the game before Smart keyed an 11 to 2 run to tie the game at 68 with 92 seconds left. Smart knocked down six free throws during the run and assisted on one of the two baskets as well.

However, Simmons answered the run by sinking two free throws to give the Mavericks the lead once again. With 55 seconds left in the game, Owls head coach Greg Williams was called for a questionable technical foul. Simmons made both free throws to give UTA a 74 to 70 lead; and, Rice never got any closer.

The Owls (3-3) take a break for final exams. Their next ball game is a home date with the UCLA Bruins on December 17. Tip is set for 5 p.m. The game is part of a scheduled double-header with the Owls' men's basketball team.
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PV Tops Huskies

Houston, TX -- The Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers defeated the Houston Baptist University Huskies 69 to 57 in a turnover-filled contest Saturday afternoon inside HBU's Sharp Gym.

The Huskies turned the ball over an astonishing 28 times only to be outdone by the Lady Panthers' 30 turnovers.

Prairie View's Chari Smith led all scorers with 16 points. Gaati Werema scored 13 points while Candice Thomas added 11 and Twila Stoke chipped in with 10 points.

The Huskies were led by Raquel Jones and Fallon Thomas (11 points each) and 10 points from Megan Green.

The game started sloppy and stayed that way. The two teams combined for 20 turnovers (PV 11, HBU 9) in the first eight minutes and 28 seconds.

Prairie View shot 13 for 28 (46.4% from the field); but, 20 first turnovers only gave PV a 32 to 20 halftime lead over the Huskies.

"I thought we played a solid first half even though we started off with five straight turnovers," said Prairie View head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. "I thought we got in a hurry against HBU's pressure defense. I thought we played a good first half; but, we were terrible in the second half."

Prairie View's defense allowed the Huskies to shoot 15 for 34 (44.1%) from the field and the second half compared to just 33.3% (8 for 24) in the first half.

"I thought we put a game plan together to not let them play the pace they wanted," said Huskies' head coach Todd Buchanon. "But, I'm too the point now where sometimes we're going to have beat people 62 to 54 and not just run and gun without purpose. There may be teams on our schedule where we'll have an athletic advantage; but, that wasn't the case today. Today, was a case to slow down the game and playing a sagging zone and double the big kids. We did it at times; and, obviously, we didn't do it at times."
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Friday, December 05, 2008

UH Thumps TSU

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Lady Cougars remained unbeaten at home with a 64 to 44 win over Texas Southern Friday night inside Hofheinz Pavilion. Houston (5-2) improved to a perfect 4 and 0 at home; and, the win was the 300th victory in Coach Joe Curl's coaching career..

The game was closer than the final score indicates; but, Houston never trailed throughout the game and kept the Lady Tigers at arms length for much of the game.

The game was definitely not a thing a beauty to watch; but, despite stellar showings; both teams played very, very hard.

Houston led TSU 26 to 17 at the end of a very low scoring first half. However, the Lady Cougars shot 45.5% (10 for 22) from the field in the opening half; but, nine turnovers hurt Houston's offense.

Texas Southern slowed down the game and limited the number of possessions in the ball game. The slower tempo definitely bothered the Lady Cougars.

"It was tough because they really tried to slow us down tonight," said Houston's Roxana Button. "They did a pretty good job at it, too. They ran the shot clock all the way down and that kind of lulled us to sleep."

The slower pace disrupted Houston; but, the Lady Tigers simply couldn't make enough shots.

"We're doing a great job defensively executing the game plan," said TSU head coach Yolanda Wells-Broughton. "But, offensively, we're struggling. We're really struggling to shoot the ball. We shot 27 percent. We have to get back in the gym and put on a shooting clinic for them."

The struggles on offense continued in the second half for both teams as neither team scored for nearly two and a half minutes near the start of the half. In fact, TSU went scoreless for six minutes and 29 seconds as Houston went on a 7 to 0 run to lead 36 to 21 with 12:58 left in the ball game.

The Lady Tigers began attacking the basket and dominating the boards to pulled within 10 points three times in the half before pulling within nine points (52 to 43) with 4:16 on the game clock. However, Houston's Brittney Scott drained a three-point shot to key a 12 to 1 finishing kick by the Lady Cougars to produce the final score.

"Brittney's shot was a must basket," said Houston's Joe Curl. "She raised up and shot that like she was very confident. That was a huge shot."

Scott scored a game-high 19 points (6 for 10 shooting from the field, 5 for 5 from the foul line). Button added 14 points on 4 for 8 shooting including 4 for 6 on threes (2 for 2 on free throws).

Houston committed 18 turnovers in the game while TSU turned the ball over 22 times. TSU outrebounded Houston 44 to 32.

Houston's 20 point may not have been pretty; but, the game could be a learning tool for the rest of the season.

"You have to win playing fast, you have to win playing slow, sometimes you win playing ugly," said Coach Curl. "We've done a little bit of all of that. Any win, at home or on the road, is a great win. What I'm disappointed in is we put them on the foul line too much and they outrebounded us."

TSU attempted 24 free throws but made only 14. Freshman forward Jasmine Greer led the Lady Tigers with 13 points. Jasmine Cannon added 11 points.

Despite picking up his 300th win, Coach Curl was very modest after the game.

"I thank the players that have played for me and the staffs that have worked with me. I do appreciate the recognition; but, I appreciate it for our kids."
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Support Houston area College Teams

HOUSTON, TX -- While I'm certain fans of the Houston Comets are experiencing all sorts of emotions from shock and angst to flat out anger, I want to encourage them to begin supporting Houston area college teams in order to ease their suffering.

You have four opportunities over the next three days to begin soothing your nerves.

Friday night, December 5, at 7:00 p.m., inside Hofheinz Pavilion, the Houston Lady Cougars play, their neighborhood rival, the Texas Southern Lady Tigers.

Saturday afternoon, December 6, at 2:05 p.m., the Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers, coached by Houston Comets' legend Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (remember her?) will head to Sharp Gymnasium and battle the Houston Baptist University (HBU) Huskies.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Rice Owls will host the Texas-Arlington Mavericks inside Tudor Fieldhouse. (Erin Grant is an assistant coach on the UTA coaching staff.)

Last and definitely not least, Sunday, December 7, the 4th ranked (and undefeated) Texas A&M Aggies will host the SMU Mustangs. Tip is set for 1 p.m. inside Reed Arena.

As a small aside, I'm planning to attend all four games.
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Comets in WNBA Dispersal Draft

NEW YORK, NY --- The WNBA will hold a dispersal draft for players on the Houston Comets roster on Monday, December 8, at 12:00 p.m. CST.

The following players (active, injured, suspended or draft list / reserved) on the Comets' roster at the conclusion of the 2008 season are eligible for selection: Matee Ajavon, Lucienne Berthieu, Renae Camino, Tamecka Dixon, Roneeka Hodges, Sequoia Holmes, Shannon Johnson, Sancho Lyttle, Polina Tzekova, Erica White and Mistie Williams.

Unrestricted free agents who are not eligible for selection are: Latasha Byears, Mwadi Mabika, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, Michelle Snow and Tina Thompson.

The order of selection, based on the inverse order of 2008 regular season finish, will be as follows:

1) Atlanta
2) Washington
3) Chicago
4) Minnesota
5) Phoenix
6) Indiana
7) Sacramento
8) New York
9) Los Angeles
10) Connecticut
11) Detroit
12) Seattle
13) San Antonio 
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rockets' Owner Comments

HOUSTON, TX -- In case fans of the Houston Comets haven't seen these comments from Rockets' owner (and original owner of the Comets) Les Alexander, here's what Les said in a statement today regarding the disbanding of the Comets:

“While this is a sad day for me personally, as well as for all who worked so hard to bring women’s basketball to our great city, the Comets were a source of deep pride for all Houstonians. I will never forget our team making history by winning that first WNBA championship—then following it up with three more consecutive titles. The team was a great source of inspiration and had a great impact on thousands of young women everywhere. I will choose to focus on the many great times that we shared, and the incredible players like Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Kim Perrot, and of course our Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor. We had the most loyal and energetic fans in the league, and the team will be missed by all.”
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Ags No. 4

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Congratulations to the Texas A&M Aggies for earning a number 4 ranking in the latest USA TODAY / ESPN Coaches' Top 25 poll. The number 4 ranking is the highest in school history.

A&M has now appeared in the top 5 of the Coaches Poll in back-to-back weeks.

Aggies head coach Gary Blair has now led two schools to a No. 4 national ranking.

Blair previously led Stephen F. Austin to a No. 4 ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll during the 1991-92 season.

The Connecticut Huskies are a unanimous choice at number 1; and, if you had a chance to see UConn's 106 to 78 demolition of then-number 4 ranked Oklahoma on Sunday night, you know UConn is FOR REAL! 
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Monday, December 01, 2008

Comets to Disband

HOUSTON, TX --- Houston's Fox Sports 26 is reporting the Houston Comets will be disbanded by the WNBA. The league will hold a dispersal draft next Monday, December 8.

WNBA President Donna Orender is quoted in the article.

Read the article: "Houston Comets to Cease Operations"

An end of a great era is upon us.

Share your thoughts and post your comments.
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