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).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OU's D-Rob: "It was a great experience"

KANSAS CITY, MO -- I'm wrapping up posting the transcripts of my 1-on-1 interviews from the 2009 Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day (October 21); and, here's my chat with Oklahoma Sooners junior point guard Danielle Robinson.

D-Rob discussed playing with USA Basketball this summer in the World University Games; "life after the Parises" this season for the Sooners; Abi Olajuwon; and last season's tough loss to Louisville in the NCAA's Final Four.

HRR: Tell me what you did this summer to improve your game?
D-Rob: Well, first off, I played with USA Basketball (World University Games) – with Danielle McCray (Kansas) and everybody else. It was a great experience. I got out there to Colorado, where it’s not easy to breathe, worked hard; then, we went to Serbia for two and a half weeks and helped win the gold medal. I definitely hand to extend my range out there and handle the basketball – a basketball which doesn’t feel like a basketball. We won games; and, I helped lead a team. I definitely think the experience was huge in helping develop my game.

After that, I went home to California and rested since I hadn’t done that since the Final Four (in April). Then, I came back to Norman (Oklahoma) and went to work.

HRR: How different was it playing international basketball compared to the Big 12 or non-conference basketball?
D-Rob: Oh, wow! International ball is WAY more physical. The girls are a lot bigger and older. They’ve been playing together for years; and, they’ve won a lot of games; so, us going there not playing against anybody before nor playing together was an adjustment. But, we kind of smooth things out playing in Colorado; and, we went to Serbia as a cohesive unit and played and represented the United States.

HRR: Does USA Basketball instill in the players that you are representing your country.
D-Rob: Definitely. They talk about that when you show up for the first tryout. You’re not only representing your school or your family, you’re representing your whole country and that it is expected that you win – especially in basketball. For us to carry on that legacy is going to be HUGE. We had a great coaching staff in Julie (Rousseau, assistant coach, Pepperdine), Charlie (Turner-Thorne, head coach, Arizona State), and Suzy (Merchant, assistant coach, Michigan State). I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

HRR: Talk about this season and life after Courtney and Ashley?
D-Rob: (laughs) Every team loses seniors. They were great for this program; but, we have Abi Olajuwon; Lyndsey Cloman; and Joanna McFarland. They’ve been coming to practice every day willing to work. Abi practiced against Courtney the past three years. What other post player has done that? Teams may play against her game in and game out; but, they didn’t practice against Courtney. Abi has gotten so much better with them being here. I definitely think now is her time to shine. She’s doing that and leading Joanna and Lyndsey every day.

Of course, we’re definitely going to be more guard oriented because our guards have more experience; but, I definitely think that the post presence is going to be huge as well.

HRR: Talk about how much better conditioning Abi is in right now.
D-Rob: Oh yeah. She made a commitment to not only herself but to the team to lose weight; and, she looks amazing. She did some things on her own besides the conditioning in the morning and the stuff in the summer that helped her lose weight and it showed how true she’s going to be to not only herself but to us. Plus, she’s keeping it off and that’s what so great. She’s not satisfied. She did it and she’s keeping it off. She’s knows it’s going to help our team win games. We’re definitely proud of her.

HRR: Have you gotten over the loss in the Final Four, yet?
D-Rob: Aww man. I think it will be hard to get over it. You still think about it every once in a while; but, once we start playing games and get into the NCAA Tournament, I think maybe it’s a possibility I’ll get over it. But, until then, until we start playing, it’s still in the back of your mind – ‘that’s how we ended our season’.

But, we’re all right.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ags' Blair: "All of us are Changing"

KANSAS CITY, MO -- This transcript is from my interview with Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. This part centers around the Aggies and Coach Blair's thoughts on the 2009 - 2010 season.

HRR: Give me your thoughts on the team thus far through these practices.
Coach Blair: We look like a talented AAU team with a lot of athleticism and speed. Now, what we’ve got to do is turn that into basketball players that can recognize situations and that can play.

Our core that we’ve had the last three to four years has all graduated; so, we’re trying to develop a new core and; I think we’ve got tremendous depth. I think that’s going to be good for us; but, sometimes that depth can confuse because you really don’t know.

We’ve got competition at the point guard position. We’ve got great competition at the two-guard position with (Sydney) Carter and Tyra White. Tanisha Smith is holding her own at the three. Probably, the surprise has been Adaora Elonu. She’s been the most solid kid from June on because of her work ethic. I think we’re going to be good.

‘Who’s going to be there at the five (center spot)?’ It will either be (Damitria) Buchanan, Kelsey Assarian; or the JUCO All-American Danielle Adams. We’ll play sort of a three-headed center right now until we see what we have. We’re probably going to need all three of them because of the non-conference schedule that we have.

We’re having to teach so much more because kids haven’t been in our system long enough or haven’t been in starting roles for us; so, all we’re doing every day is teach, teach, teach. There’s been very little coaching.

HRR: How has Danielle Adams adjusted to Texas A&M? Practice, etc.
Coach Blair: She’s adjusted; but, the whole first month – hamstring. She didn’t work out one day the whole first month; and, this is a kid that has to have the conditioning for how we play. The hamstring is better now; but, the hamstring lingers with you, sometimes, the whole year. We’ll just have to see how it is. Because of that hamstring, we haven’t been able to get her in the condition that we want; but, when she gets the ball, she can score. Anywhere on the court. That’s her strength. Now, obviously, she has a few weaknesses that we don’t want to put in the press (laughs); but, her strength is on the offensive end.

HRR: How about the team’s perimeter shooting this season? Will that be a strength?
Coach Blair: We have to get Tanisha to become a little bit more consistent with her perimeter shot. Tyra White; Carter; (Sydney) Colson is healthy now. I think when you look at a four-guard rotation of Colson, Carter, Tyra, and Tanisha that’s similar to what we had before when we had Aqua (A’Quonesia Franklin), (Danielle) Gant, Morenike (Atunrase), and (Takia) Starks.

Now, those kids have done it. These kids are trying to do it. That’s what we have to do is see if we can get the same type of production on both ends of the court. But, those four are solid. We know that they’re ready to start the season. We’re just trying to find out which freshmen, which role players are going to come in and be that fifth guard, that fifth player that we have to have in the rotation when talking about the one, two, and the three.

HRR: Talk about losing D.G. (Danielle Gant), T.K. (Starks) and (LaToya) Micheaux and what they meant to the program.
Coach Blair: It’s sort of like graduating your own kids from college. Gant and Starks meant so much. The four years that we had were so special.

Us, Oklahoma and Baylor the last three years have been the top three programs in the Conference as far as records. It’s been a battle among the three of us. Now, all of us are changing. The Parises (Courtney and Ashley) are gone. Baylor’s great class is coming in. My new kids are ready to step up. Then, you’ve got the teams like Texas and Kansas that are ready to go. Nebraska is healthy again. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will be very much improved. They’re not going to roll over for anybody. Then, you’ve got other teams that have good players; but, they might not have the core the teams I just mentioned have.

I think in this league you can’t get by with just one good player. You better have three good ones, two role players, and you better have at least three or four on the bench that can produce for you.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Aggies' Blair wants more games on television

KANSAS CITY, MO -- Gary Blair, head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies, is never at a loss for words. He's a good basketball coach; but, he's also a great quote for the media. Coach Blair can inform you, charm you, and answer questions during any press conference.

During the 2009 Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day, Coach Blair answered a few of my questions about the Big 12 North, Big 12 South, and the impact of Baylor freshman center Brittney Griner on women's college basketball in his usual way -- very thoroughly. 

HRR: How is the Big 12 North compared to the Big 12 South? Is that gap narrowing between the two?

Coach Blair: It’s always narrowing because there’s more continuity in the coaches. When the coaches stay, they will build a program; and, we haven’t had a new coach in the Big 12 North since Kathy (McConnell-Miller at Colorado). Kathy’s going into her fifth season.

The South is going to be better this season just because Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are going to be better; and, that’s going to make it even harder for anybody to even think about going the through league undefeated. It’s just too much parity which is good for our league. When you have parity, you have a chance to get eight teams in the (NCAA) Tournament. What we should hope for, every year, is to get eight teams in the NCAA Tournament and three teams in the WNIT. If that works out, then everybody is happy except perhaps that last team.

The league is strong because our coaches in the Big 12 do not leave to go to another league. They pay us well. We’ve got a great recruiting base. We’ve got a great attendance base. Why should you ever leave the Big to go to another conference? And, nobody has done it since I’ve been in the league. Nobody has left this league to go take another BCS job; and, I think that’s a strength.

I left the SEC (Arkansas) to come; Bonnie (Henrickson, Kansas) left (Virginia Tech) to come, Gail (Goestenkors, Texas head coach) left (Duke), Kristy (Curry, Texas Tech head coach) left (Purdue); Kathy moved from Tulsa. I think we’ve got the premier league; and because people in the stands. People care about women’s basketball in this area. I think it’s just great for women’s basketball; but, I still think we’ve just scratched the surface as far as growth. We need to be on television more. Hopefully, when our contract expires, a new deal will mean more exposure for women’s basketball.

I think our Tournament needs to continue to grow, particularly our attendance for the Big 12 Tournament. I think the schools need to start following their teams more – particularly the Aggies. We need to come from College Station, TX to here (Kansas City) – not just wait to see if it’s ever going to be in Dallas or in San Antonio. We need to start supporting our teams like we do in football and some of the other sports.

HRR: What are your thoughts about (Baylor freshman) Brittney Griner’s beginning her college basketball career?

Coach Blair: I think when Griner comes in – you’re not old enough, I’m old enough – when Wilt Chamberlain went to Kansas (in 1955), I’m old enough to remember that. I used to see him compete against Jim Krebs of SMU. I think she’s going to change the game that much.

Now, how are you going to defend her? Who knows?

Obviously, we’ve got to see a lot of film of Baylor before we have to worry about Baylor. We’ve got a lot of other fish in the pond to play; but, people said that about Courtney Paris when she came into the league – ‘How can you defend Courtney Paris?’ ‘She’s going to win every game.’ The first year they (Oklahoma) went 16 and 0 (in Big 12 play). Well, we beat them five out of nine times; but, not that first year. We had to learn how to defend her; and, our team had to get better. One player wasn’t going to beat you; and, it’s going to be the same with Baylor.

Baylor has a great supporting cast. They’ve got three good players coming back in (Melissa) Jones, (Kelli) Griffin, and (Morghan) Medlock. They’re freshman class is that good; so, it isn’t all Griner.

It’s just going to be a great rivalry. We’re 90 miles apart. In the ACC, you’ve got Duke, N.C. State, and North Carolina, here (in Texas) you’ve got Baylor, Texas, and A&M in that triangle. We’re a little bit further apart ; but, it’s our version of what the ACC has.
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, October 24, 2009

OU's Whitney Hand says the team will be "more guard oriented"

KANSAS CITY, MO -- I interviewed Whitney Hand, sophomore shooting guard, for the Oklahoma Sooners at the 2009 Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day on Wednesday, October 21.

Here's the transcript:

HRR: Are you used to this (talking to the media)?

Whitney: The media thing? I’m used to it a little bit more than last year. Last year, kind of took me by storm; but, I think I’ve slowed down my speech a little bit. (laughing)

HRR: What did you do this summer to improve your game?

Whitney: I went to Colorado Springs for the Team USA tryouts. It was kind of a reality check just seeing the competition and the level of those girls. It was cool to see that and cool to compete against them and to know that you’re on that level but not quite; and, to know I have so much more room for improvement. Also, to know you’re never really at your peak.

I had some things in my family which happened this summer that motivated me. The Final Four motivated me. Everything kind of just came together. I started working on my dribble game; stuff off the dribble; being more of an outside threat. That’s how I’ve improved my game.

HRR:Well, you brought it up, so, I’m going to ask you – have you gotten over the Final Four, yet? (Oklahoma lost to Louisville - in the final seconds - in the National semifinals by two points.)

Whitney (laughing): I don’t believe you ever really get over it. Obviously, it’s an honor to have made it; but, the way we lost was ugly. It just makes me sick every time I think about it. But, you have to respect how far we got last season; and the fact that we made it that far. But, at the same time, obviously, there’s that thing inside me that still a little bit bitter.

HRR: Talk about the newcomers on the team.

Whitney: Joanna (McFarland) and Lyndsey (Cloman) have done a great job. When they first got to OU I think they were kind of taken aback by college and everything – as all of us were when we were freshmen. But, they really have stepped into their own space in practice. They’re really following everyone’s lead. Abi (Olajuwon) has been great helping them as a post; and, everyone has helped them adjust. Obviously, it’s overwhelming; but, I think they’re doing a great job. They’re willing to step up when needed.

HRR: How has practice gone so far?

Whitney: It’s going great. I’m really excited by the mentality of everyone coming into practice. We’re all on the same page. We know where we want to get. We’re all willing to work hard to get there. I’m really excited by the energy level and the focus to details.

HRR: Talk about your teammate Danielle Robinson.

Whitney (laughing): I don’t believe there are really words to explain how awesome she is. Just as a player and as a leader. We wouldn’t function without her. It would be disastrous if she went down (to injury) for our morale and, obviously, our skill level. She’s just been great at everything. Everything on our team flows from her. She really unifies our team. She provides us with that spark to get through things. When she’s on (top of her game), we know we’re good. We always look to her whenever we need anything. She’s incredibly essential to our team.

HRR: How will the style of play be different this year compared to last year?

Whitney: Definitely more guard oriented. You can’t replace Courtney (Paris) and Ashley (Paris); but, as a whole, we can fulfill their contributions – pointwise and reboundwise. We’re all going to have combine to do all that; but, at the same time, we’re going to get to play up tempo. We’re going to get to play to Nyeisha (Stevenson), Danielle, and AT (Amanda Thompson)’s style; and, that’s going to be very advantageous for all of us because defenses are going to have to be aware of all us. 
Bookmark and Share

Ags' Colson: "I'm ready to go"

KANSAS CITY, MO -- I had a chance to speak with Sydney Coslon (junior point guard, Texas A&M) during the 2009 Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day.

Here's the transcript:

HRR: Who are the team captains?

Sydney: I was the only returning captain from last year’s team because DG (Danielle Gant) and TK (Takia Starks) moved on (seniors last year); but, we have three new captains this year – Sydney Carter, Adaora Elonu, and Damitria Buchanan. They’re a perfect fit.

I don’t believe we were elected captains because we’re the most popular on the team. I think everybody wants to listen to what we say. Carter and I being the point guards, it’s vital for us to be vocal on the court and be leaders. Damitria and Adaora do an excellent job in practice, those hard practices when we feel like we can’t finish them, Damitria is always there clapping us up. She’s first in line clapping us up – leading by action.

Adaora is amazing in everything she does. She definitely leads by action. I think she’s becoming a better vocal leader.

We have a Leadership Council on our team. The captains I just named as well as freshman CierraWindham and sophomore Maryann Baker. It’s really a group that if we have problems outside the court; if something happens during practice and we want to address the coaches. It may not be the time to talk to the coahces right in practice when they may have gotten on you; but, you may have had a reason for why you did what you did. They may not want to hear it at that point; but, the Leadership Council can get together after practice and speak to the coaches and address the situation.

Leadership Council is there to get the input from the other girls and go talk to the coaches if they are nervous about speaking to the coaches. We’re supposed to be the voice for the team.

HRR: How has practice gone so far?

Sydney: Thus far, practice has been good. We’ve been practicing a lot. We’ve been working hard. Now, we’re really starting to get in a lot of our plays. For the freshmen, it’s a tough time for them right now to try and memorize all of the plays and do all the things the coaches ask of them. It’s tough because they’re now seeing a different side of the coaches than when they were being recruited. Now, it’s time for business. The coaches are getting on them hard because they want the best out of the freshmen. We’ve all been through that. I think practice has been going pretty well so far.

Three, four more weeks of practice and we have our first game. It’s time to get prepared. I feel like we will be ready when that November 15th game (versus Duke) rolls around.

HRR: What are your expectations for the team this year?

Sydney: This year, I really expect the veterans to come back and be the leaders like DG, TK, and (LaToya) Micheaux were last season. Leading by action. Being the ones who get the hustle plays. Encouraging everyone. I don’t expect us to be a team that gets rolled over this year. I don’t believe people’s expectations for us are that high this year because of who we lost from last season. I think, with the talent that we have, if we all come together, and at the right time and not peak too soon, we’re going to be a really good team this year and go far into March Madness.

HRR: How do you feel physically?

Sydney: I feel really good. My injury (torn ACL) is about a year and five months or so ago. I played on it about five months after my surgery; but, I feel I’ve gotten much stronger since that point. I’m feeling good. Everybody was pushing me when I needed them to do so. Now, I’m feeling healthy. I’m about 90, high-90 percent; so, I’m ready to go.

HRR: When did you get over the loss in the NCAA Tournament (84 to 69 to Arizona State in the Regional Semifinals)?

Sydney: The loss in the Tournament? It’s hard to get over it because that was not our best game. It definitely wasn’t. It was hard to get over it because the coaches aren’t over it. We still get reminded of it; and, we still be reminded of it because we play them this year. It’s going to be a game that we’re definitely going to have make a statement. We’re definitely going to have to play as hard as we’ve ever played. I’m not over it; but, I’m ready for the re-match.

HRR: What is Coach Blair like as a coach?

Sydney: He’s a good coach. It’s hard for the point guards because he pushes us the hardest. He gets on us the most because he expects a lot from us. He expects us to be his voice on the court. When the players can’t hear him call a play, we’re supposed to be the ones that verbalize everything. He’s a good coach. All his accolades show it. Everything that he’s done, the players that he’s produced. He’s a very good coach. I respect him.

The Aggies first game of the 2009-2010 season is a home match up with the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, November 15. Tip-off time is set for 2:00 p.m.
Bookmark and Share

Sooner's Coale says team "Seems to have that Something"

KANSAS CITY, MO -- Here's the transcript of my chat with Oklahoma Sooners head coach Sherri Coale from the October 21, Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day:

HRR: What’s it like not being the President of the WBCA?

Coach Coale: It’s not very different, It’s nice to not, maybe have the brunt of the responsibilities, but still be involved. You serve as Past President for two years; so, I’m still very involved; but, not as much work behind the scenes obviously.

It was a remarkable experience, Kris, I gotta tell you. I wish every coach could have the opportunity to serve in that way because I think it makes you, not only a better basketball coach certainly, but a better member of this profession. Just the opportunities that are presented to you; so, I’m grateful to Beth Bass and the Executive Committee for the opportunity I’ve had to serve.

HRR: Are you looking forward to getting back to doing more such as recruiting instead of needing to rely on your coaching staff while you handle WBCA duties?

Coach Coale: The fortunate thing for me I was only able to serve as the WBCA President because I had a loyal, stable staff that I could rely upon and great front office help as I tried to perform those duties for the WBCA. You have to have the right people around you. You have to be surrounded in the right way; but, I didn’t feel like I cut any corners as far as my team was concerned. But, it’s nice to move at such a harried pace now.

HRR: Talk about this season and your team.

Coach Coale: I’m really excited about my team. It’s always exciting to return guys who’ve had the opportunity to play on the Final Four floor. But, this group in particular, they really seem to have that something. They’re really, really good together. Their attention in five days of practice has been outstanding. They appear, at this point, to be learners to be guys who aren’t going to continue to make the same mistakes. It’s important to them to do the right thing – not just to win but to do the right thing which gives us a chance to be extraordinary. I like it. I’m looking forward to it.

HRR: To have so many players returning who participated in the Final Four, can I assume they’ve taken from that experience and come back in shape and ready to go for this season? Have you had any problems with anybody lacking conditioning?

Coach Coale: None. Abi Olajuwon has come back in the best physical condition of her life. Lyndsey Cloman met her goal weights; her fitness tests. Everybody has just been, with the exception of Danielle (Robinson) playing too much basketball (for USA Basketball), we sat her out for awhile just to make sure she could regroup and break the pounding cycle on the legs. Everybody’s good. Knock on wood.

HRR: How will the team be different this season?

Coach Coale: I think we’ll play faster. When you play faster you also have to remember to play in control, to make good decisions. A lot of that responsibility falls on Danielle and Jasmine (Hartman) as the point guard pushing the ball down to floor to decide when to and when not to.

We will speed it up defensively and stretch our defenses some. We’ll be able to do more different things. I think the biggest thing is these guys have been in the program long enough to develop a high basketball IQ and understand spacing, timing, and angles and reading a defense. There will be a lot of freedom. These guys will be able to play in such a way that I may not be able to tell what they’re doing half the time. But, I bet it’ll be good.

HRR: How have the newcomers on the team done so far?

Coach Coale: Great! I could not ask more of the two freshmen (Lyndsey Cloman and Joanna McFarland). If you walked into our gym, I don’t think you would be able to tell who are the ‘new guys’. They’ve adapted to the intensity level; the pace of practice; the requirements of communication. They each have things that they do extraordinarily well. We’re going to play toward those strengths and depend on them heavily this year.

HRR: Talk about your non-conference schedule this year.

Coach Coale: Our non-conference schedule is ridiculous. Part of it, we did on purpose.

HRR: You did it, right?

Coach Coale: Huh? Part of it; but, part of it just came to us in terms of the Virgin Islands Tournament where we picked up San Diego State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame. Hello, strength of schedule? It was already top ten in the country; and, that just pushed it to the top probably. Those are all opportunities for our kids.

We play Georgia, Arkansas, Connecticut, Tennessee, and those teams I just mentioned; so, it will be a challenge; but, we’ll know who we are and that’s the great part of it. I’ve always played an aggressive pre-conference schedule because I want to know who we are. I want to know where we’re good at; where we’re not good at; so, that I can go into the Big 12 conference and compete for a championship.

HRR: What about the Big 12 Conference this season? I guess it’s a case of the same old story different season. Great teams. Talented players all over the league. Great coaches. Right?

Coach Coale: Same old story. Different stars maybe; but, a lot of talent. Obviously, the play of Kansas last year has everybody thinking about Kansas in a different way. I think the North is going to be very good. Nebraska is very good. Never count out a Bill Fennelly (Iowa State) team. And, then you have the usual suspects in the Big 12 South – Baylor, Texas, and Texas A&M. Those three guys plus Kansas. Who’s going to be 1, 2, 3, 4? I’ve no idea. That’s typical though. You follow this league long enough you find that that’s typical.

HRR: How good can your team be this season? What goals do you have for the team this season?

Coach Coale: This team can be as good as they want to be. I don’t think there’s anything that this team can’t do. It’s going to depend upon their ability to learn on a daily basis and get better every day as the year progresses. How they play together. If they continue the chemistry that they have right now, they can be extraordinary. Maybe not a large margin of error for this group of kids; but, a really high ceiling.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aggies' Buchanan Ready to be a Leader

KANSAS CITY, MO -- Until Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day started, I didn't know which Texas A&M players would attend the event.

Thankfully, two players from the Houston area -- Sydney Colson (junior, Guard, Westside High School) and Damitria Buchanan (senior, center / post, Jones High School) appeared.

Here's my brief chat with 'Tree':

HRR: What did you this summer to improve your game?

Damitria: I got in the weight room a lot and worked on getting stronger. Playing pick up a lot back at home in Houston at the Fonde (Fonde Recreation Center) during AAU. I played a lot of basketball and lifted weights and worked on my shot.

HRR: Do you feel old?

Damitria: Oh, yes. I feel old every day. Just bodywise. After four years of hard competition, it starts taking a toll on your body; but, I get in the ice tub every day after practice. I’ve never been in the ice tub this much before. Plus, just the experience. I feel like I know a lot of more by being a senior.

HRR: Are you ready to be a leader?

Damitria: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I’m ready to take on that role. It’s something I’m working on every day. I’ve gone from being a role player to possibly being a key player on the team which is a transition. That’s something I take pride in and work on.

HRR: How’s the team different this year without Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, and LaToya Micheaux?

Damitria: There’s a lack of experience now; but, we still have a lot of talented players on the team. We still have a lot of hard workers; and, people that’s ready to get the job done this season. This is not a rebuilding year. This is a transition year – just getting the younger players to learn our style of defense and our style of play; but, we’ll be pretty good.

HRR: Do the players know the team was picked fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll?

Damitria: Yea, we’ve heard about it; but, we try not to dwell on it. We’re not worried about preseason polls. We just try to go out there; work hard; and prove people wrong.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Owls Coach Williams Likes Depth at Point Guard

HOUSTON, TX (TUDOR FIELDHOUSE) -- The Rice Owls have held three practices thus far; and, I've managed to catch the last 30 minutes of one session (I was at Hofheinz Pavilion seeing the Coogs' practice) and all of another session.

This year's Owls team will be interesting to watch. Five of the 13 players on the roster are freshmen (4) or new to the program (Jackie Stanley, 6'2" post who sat out last season after transferring from Kansas State and injuring her knee).

Stanley is very solid in the low post with a variety of post moves and a consistent turnaround jumper.

Perimeter shooting is a question mark (just like last season); however, the 2009 - 2010 team should have improved play along with depth at the point guard position.

"We return our point guard who started last year as a freshman (4'10 3/4", D'Frantz Smart)," said Owls head coach Greg Williams. "I think we got a real good freshman point guard, Jessica Goswitz, (this season); so, we don't have to play D'Frantz until she drops this year. Amenemope McKinney, who was playing well last year until she missed the last 14 games last year with her health issues; so, we're probably deeper at the point than we've ever been."

Point guard and starting post should be strengths for the Owls this season; however, the wing positions (shooting guard and small forward also known as three guard) remain a question yet to be answered.

"We might be a little thin on the wing with Memri Carmon being out this year with the torn Achilles' tendon," Williams added. "So, we're kind of a work in progress at the wing because we're playing four players that were looking at playing the three (small forward) / four (post) (instead of playing the two (shooting guard) / three) -- Zoe Rogers a freshman; Lacey Neu a freshman; Megan Elliott, who started at the four last year and Morgan Mayse. We're seeing who can do that and who can be comfortable there because we're probably going to need some wing depth. Although Amenemope and Jessica can both play the one and the two."

One person who seems to have the inside track at playing key minutes at the wing is sophomore Brianna Hypolite.

"Brianna Hypolite is playing extremely well. She had a really good summer. She probably played basketball all summer; and, it's nice to see her carry that over to fall practice."

The Owls will tip off the '09-'10 season on the road versus Texas-Arlington, Friday, November 13, at 6:00p.m.
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Houston's Taylor: "We're Way More Aggressive"

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Cougars posted a solid 19 - 10 record in 2008 - 2009; however, the Cougars were defeated by UCF in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA championships and did not receive a postseason tournament bid.

While she's not promising anything, Houston's Courtney Taylor (6'0" junior forward from Crocket, TX) has noticed a positive note for the 2009 - 2010 season:

"We're way more aggressive than we were last year."

The Cougars have held two practices thus far; but, Taylor already sees a difference in this year's team compared to last year's squad.

"I think practices have been great. I've seen improvements in the freshmen thus far compared to how they played during open gym (during the summer). I think that this is going to be a very good year."

Taylor believes the team's depth will help the team run more this season.

"We have 12 players this year. WOO-HOO!," Taylor exclaimed. "We have the depth."

Taylor is honored to be named the Conference USA Preseason Team; and, she plans to work hard and prove she's worth the recognition.

However, in addition to leading the team to a lot of victories, Taylor has set a personal goal  to be named Conference USA Player of the Year.

"That's a goal. That's a definite goal," Taylor admitted. "I'm already stronger (than last season); but, I'm going to have to rebound, rebound, rebound. Rebound. Rebound. Rebound."
Bookmark and Share

Coogs' Curl Excited by Practices

HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Cougars have started practicing for the 2009 - 2010 women's college basketball season and head coach Joe Curl is excited about the upcoming season.

"Excited because everyone is excited this time of year," Coach Curl said after today's practice session. "Anxious may be a better word. 'Searching for who we are' would be a good phrase.

"We have a chance to be a good team. Early in this second practice we realized that we need to be an uptempo team. We've got to be one of the best, if not the best, defensive team in the conference to play the way we're going to have to play.

"Excited to see who, where, and how we're going to get it done (this season)."

Though he believes the 2009 - 2010 C-USA regular season will be highly competitive (as usual), Coach Curl believes SMU and UCF are the early favorites.

"SMU is probably at the top of my list along with Central Florida," Curl added. "A lot of returning players. A lot of young players (that played) last year. We have a chance to be right in the hunt for it.

"I think the conference race is going to be a dogfight. I know a lot of coaches say that; but, really that's true in our case."

The Cougars have 12 players on the roster; and, Curl believes the team is capable of going 9 to 10 deep on a consistent basis.

"If we had to play tomorrow night, I really believe we could play nine or ten. I really do. Depth is going to be one of our strengths -- without a drop off. We'll see if that's true. The proof will be in the pudding; but, I'm hoping we can go eight, nine, ten deep. I really think everybody can get some playing time."

Houston's first game of the 2009 - 2010 season will be an exhibition game versus the Houston Jaguars on November 9. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Bookmark and Share

Baylor Tabbed Favorite in Big 12

Baylor was selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2009 - 2010 Big 12 women's basketball regular season title in a vote of the league's head coaches. (Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.)

2009-10 Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

1. Baylor (5) 109
2. Kansas (3) 106
Texas (3) 106
4. Texas A&M (1) 87
5. Oklahoma 86
6. Nebraska 80
7. Iowa State 59
8. Kansas State 44
9. Oklahoma State 41
10. Texas Tech 38
11. Colorado 22
12. Missouri 15

(first place votes in parentheses; coaches not allowed to vote for their own team)

Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day takes place Wednesday, October 21, in Kansas City, MO. I'll be attending representing KCOH 1430 AM (http://www.kcohradio.com/).
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

UCF's Cannon Named C-USA Preseason POY

IRVING, TX -- UCF's Emma Cannon headlines this year's Conference USA Preason All C-USA Team as she was voted the Preseason Player of the Year (POY), edging out two-time C-USA Player of the Year Jareica Hughes of UTEP. Hughes joins Cannon on the preseason team as well as Houston's Courtney Taylor, Pauline Love of Southern Miss and SMU's Brittany Gilliam. Cannon and Love were unanimous selections.

Emma Cannon, UCF (6-2, Jr., F, Rochester, N.Y.)

Courtney Taylor, Houston (6-0, Jr., F, Crockett, Texas)
Brittany Gilliam, SMU (5-11, Sr., F, Tyler, Texas)
Pauline Love, Southern Miss (6-0, Sr., F, Luxora, Ark.)
Emma Cannon, UCF (6-2, Jr., F, Rochester, N.Y.)
Jareica Hughes, UTEP (5-3, Sr., G, Southfield, Mich.)

The 2009-10 Conference USA Championship is slated for March 8-12 in Tulsa, Okla. The University of Tulsa will host the five-day event at the Reynolds Center on campus. This will mark the second time in the last three years Tulsa has hosted the conference tournament.

The first official practice of the 2009 - 2010 college basketball season tips off this Friday.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 12, 2009

Aggies Season Tickets on Sale

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M Women's basketball season is around the corner and season tickets are now on sale. Prices start at $85.

Tickets for the Aggies' much-anticipated home-season opener against perennial power Duke will go on sale to the public on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 8 a.m. (CT). Tickets for the Duke game are priced at $11 for courtside seating, $9 for sideline mezzanine, $7 for baseline mezzanine or $5 for general admission. Children under two years old are admitted free in general admission sections. All fans, regardless of age, must have a ticket in a reserved section. 

Tickets can be purchased online at: http://tickets.12thmanfoundation.com/, over the phone by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE or in person at the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Center.

Individual tickets for the additional home games on the 2009 - 2010 schedule will go on sale later this month.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

KU's McCray Tops Big 12 Preseason Honors

Kansas senior, Danielle McCray, was named the 2009-2010 Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by the league's coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.

McCray was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season while earning All-America honorable mention recognition from the Associated Press and Division I women's basketball coaches. She was second in the Conference in scoring (21.6) and ninth in rebounding (7.7) while posting eight double-doubles. The 5-11 senior forward led the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage (.426), was second in three-pointers made per game (2.25) and fifth in free throw percentage (.831).

Danielle Adams (Texas A&M) was chosen Preseason Newcomer of the Year and Brittney Griner (Baylor) was selected Preseason Freshman of the Year.

2009-10 Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Preseason awards
(coaches not allowed to vote for own players)

Preseason Player of the Year: Danielle McCray, Kansas, F, 5'11", Sr, Olathe, Kan./East

Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Danielle Adams, Texas A&M, F/C, 6'1", Jr, Kansas City, Mo./Lee's Summitt/Jefferson College

Preseason Freshman of the Year: Brittney Griner, Baylor, C, 6'8", Houston, Texas/Nimitz

Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Danielle McCray, Kansas, F, 5'11", Sr, 21.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg.

Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, F, 6'2", Sr, 15.3 ppg^, 7.2 rpg^.
Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma, G, 5'9", Jr, 12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg.
Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State, G, 5'5", Sr, 23.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg.
Brittainey Raven, Texas, G, 6'0", Sr, 13.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg.

Note: ^2007-08 statistics; redshirted in 2008-09

Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school)
Brittney Griner (Baylor), Alison Lacey (Iowa State), Ashley Sweat (Kansas State), Whitney Hand (Oklahoma), Tanisha Smith (Texas A&M).

Big 12 Media Day takes place Wednesday, October 21, in Kansas City, MO.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Boler Verbals to Texas Southern

HOUSTON, TX -- I've said on the radio and I've told people face-to-face Texas Southern's head coach, Yolanda Wells-Broughton, is "on her job".

Here's another example of her hard work paying off for the TSU program.

Shakila Boler has verballed to the Lady Tigers.

Boler, 5'9", is ranked the #24 best point guard in the nation by HoopGurlz / Scouts,Inc.

Shaq plays high school ball in Minnesota (yes, Minnesota -- how's that for national reach, Tigers' fans?) at Bloomington Kennedy High School. Boler played AAU ball for North Tartan.

Verbal commitments are non-binding; however, Shak is expected to sign her National Letter of Intent (NLI) next month once the NCAA's Fall Signing Period begins Wednesday, November 11, through Wednesday, November 18.

Lady Coogs Receive Verbal from Henderson

Allie Henderson, 6'2", post player from Euless Trinity HS has verballed to Coach Joe Curl and the Houston Cougars. Henderson is expected to sign her NLI next month.

More news to come.
Bookmark and Share