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Razorbacks open season Friday

Jeri Thorpe, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team tips off the 2012-13 season Friday hosting Jackson State on Elementary Day in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas and the Tigers are scheduled for an 11 a.m. tip with more than 1,200 area elementary students expected to be in the stands.  Arkansas hosts the Tigers then face its next five opponents on the road so getting out to a fast start could be important for the Razorbacks.

“We are excited for the season to start,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said.  “Our players have been working hard.  They really enjoyed the exhibition game last week.  We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but we got out a lot of jitters and they are just ready to play against someone and for it to be real.”

Arkansas downed Rogers State, 69-40, the program’s only exhibition game of the season.  The Razorbacks jump into the schedule with both feet traveling to Tulsa and Oral Roberts before an extended road swing with three games against Oklahoma, Oregon and Hawai’i in Honolulu.

The Tigers are a bit of a mystery for the Razorbacks.   They opened with a 91-54 exhibition win over Lemoyne Owen last week and are picked seventh in the SWAC this season.

“JSU is a very hard prep for us,” Collen said.  “It is the first game of the year and we don’t have any film and they have a new coach.  We really don’t know a lot about what they are going to do.  This is a bit of a guessing game and that makes any coach nervous when you don’t know for sure.”

What Collen does know for sure is what he has on his bench and it is a new look for the Razorback skipper.  Returning All-Southeastern Conference selections Sarah Watkins and Calli Berna will be big factors in Arkansas’ success while returners Quistelle Williams, Keira Peak and Dominique Robinson will have to expand their roles from a year ago.

Fifth-year seniors Kelsey Hatcher and Erin Gatling will both see more court time and their experience will be important as well.

In addition to dealing with their opponent, Arkansas also faces the early tip time and the different demographic of Friday’s crowd.

“We’re excited about hosting Elementary Day,” Collen said.  “It is different playing at 11 a.m. in front of a bunch of young fans.  The noise is constant and it can be nerve racking. You have to concentrate and stay focused.  The time outs sound just like the game.  I’m sure it is unnerving for the opponent and we have to take advantage of that.”

Tickets for Friday’s game are available at the Razorback Ticket Center and online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.  Tickets are also available at the door.

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