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Aloha Lady’Backs: Arkansas heads to Hawai’i for Thanksgiving

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Aloha Lady’Backs:  Arkansas heads to Hawai’i for Thanksgiving

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks continue their whirlwind tour by getting on the big old jet airliner for the Aloha State and the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Invitational, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 24-26.

The Lady’Backs take their best start under coach Susie Gardner at 5-0 into the opening round game with Denver on Friday evening at 7:20 p.m. The game can be heard on the Lady Razorback Radio Network or through LADYBACKS.COM.

Here are part of the game notes for the first two rounds at Hawai’i. For full game notes, click on the PDF link above.

ABOUT THE HAWAIIAN AIRLINES RAINBOW WAHINE CLASSIC: The eight-team Thanksgiving week event hosted for, well, ever by the University of Hawai’i-Manoa campus, the Rainbow Wahine brings together some of the best teams in the country. This is the University of Arkansas’ fourth trip to a UH-hosted tournament, the third to the premier Rainbow Wahine. Arkansas’ last visit was in 2000, and the Lady’Backs were the third-place team defeating the Wahine on the final day.

MAHALO FOR THE ‘: Please, it really, really is Hawai’i (and for that matter, O’ahu).

ARKANSAS IN THE ALOHA STATE: The Lady’Backs visit the 50th state for the fifth time this week. Three times, the team has played in tournaments on O’ahu, and has a combined record of 4-4. The other tournament was on the Kona coast of Hawai’i where Arkansas won both games but based on the tiebreaker of the classic format event (Kona Women’s Classic) was the runner-up.

TIMES VERY ADVANTAGEOUS FOR HOME FOLKS: For our fans on the mainland, the games will not require copious amounts of Kona coffee. The schedule on the island is day-based, meaning Arkansas is likely to not play beyond a regular tipoff time in the central time zone.

SECOND ROUND TIMES SET, OPPONENT NOT: It’s not about winning or losing for the second round tipoff time; it’s about playing the Wahine. Hawai’i has set its second round game time at 5:20 CST (1:20 HST) on Saturday.

FIRST TIME FOR MOST: Only two coaches (Amber Shirey and Mike Neighbors) and the radio crew (Bill Smith and Kyle Kellams) have played games in Hawai’i. This is head coach Susie Gardner’s first visit as well as the entire Lady’Back basketball team.

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?: Arkansas arrives on O’ahu with five games — that’s regular season games folks — notched off the old schedule card. The Lady’Backs meet up with Denver for the Pioneers’ second game. This is the second straight one-game team for the Lady’Backs after hosting one-game Wichita State on Monday. Arkansas has played the most games of any team in the 2006 Rainbow Wahine. Sacramento State is next with four games played.

GOT A HISTORY WITH THREE: Arkansas has faced only three of the seven opponents in this year’s tournament: Texas Tech, Hawai’i and UCLA. The Lady’Backs are 16-8 against TTU, all from the SWC days, while even with Hawai’i at 2-2, but 1-2 at Manoa campus. Arkansas is 1-0 with UCLA from the 1990 NCAA tournament in Fayetteville.

WHAT’S HOT: Lauren Ervin is leading the team with 62.1% from the field and a near-double with 12.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Sarah Pfeifer is close behind with 50% from the field, 11.3 ppg and a whopping 92.3% at the line.

WHAT’S NOT: Senior three-point gunners Dominique Washington and Leslie Howard are struggling mightily. Washington is scoring only 2.8 ppg, much less if her 10-point effort off the bench at Lipscomb is taken out of the totals. More so for Howard, Arkansas’ leading scorer returning from last year’s team. Howard has opened with 4.3 ppg and a dramatic 14.8% field goal and 13% three-point marks. In four games, Howard has made only three treys on 23 attempts while Washington isn’t much better with two in nine tries.

WELL, THERE IS THIS TOWN CALLED ARKANSAS POST: In fact, the first settlement in the state and for the 2006-07 season the Lady Razorbacks have staked their claim to the lane behind the rotation of Lauren Ervin, Sarah Pfeifer, Danielle Allen and Whitney Jones. The four posts are three of the teams leading scorers — Allen is the top player off the bench with 7.8 ppg — and represent 36.1 ppg — that’s almost half of the points so far this year.

ERVIN ROCKS SHOCKERS: Junior Lauren Ervin became the first Lady’Back to break past 14 points in a game as she coasted to 18 with 13 rebounds against Wichita State. Ervin had a near double by halftime – 10 points and nine boards. It wasn’t just points and rebounds as Ervin had a total game with four blocks, three steals and three assists.

WASHINGTON KNOCKS CAP OFF: After struggling from behind the arc, Dominique Washington poured in back-to-back three-pointers to drive Wichita State down by 16 in the first half, and closed the game with 4-of-6 from behind the line. In her first four games, Washington had only 2-of-11.

VAUGHN GETS ON THE RIGHT SIDE: Brittney Vaughn had five assists against a single turnover, part of a 22-assist night for the Lady’Backs against Wichita State. The impressive part — only seven Lady’Back field goals were unassisted.

DEFENSIVE STARTING LINEUP?: Not so much as the new five with Wichita State got Arkansas off to a faster pace, and it resulted in 50% from the field in the first half, a season high 42.6% from the field, 33.3% from the line and 80 total points.

FAST PACE TO EARLY SCHEDULE: The Lady’Backs play three games in five days starting with Lipscomb, a good simulation for the three-straight they will face at the Rainbow Wahine next week in Hawai’i. By next weekend, Arkansas will have a fourth of its schedule finished with eight games in the first 17 days of the season.

LEARN BY DOING: As a result, Arkansas has more game days — 8 — than practice days — 7 — in the early schedule.

MORE HAPPY STATS: Back to blocks — in 28 games, Arkansas had 80 as a team. In five this year — 36 — for an average of 7.2 per game vs. last year’s season mark of 2.8.

HAPPY: Arkansas is undefeated in November to date at 5-0. Last November, not so much at 3-2 for the month.

HAPPY: Arkansas’ third road win of the year with the result at Austin Peay gives the Lady Razorbacks more wins in this season than the entire road game victory total of last year. That’s right, the Lady’Backs were 2-10 at opponent venues in 2005-06.

JOY: Arkansas committed only seven fouls at Austin Peay. There isn’t a UA record for least fouls in a game, but last year the low was 10. Austin Peay never shot a bonus free throw — only shooting fouls — against Arkansas.

JOY: Arkansas had its fourth straight game with 40-plus rebounds and positive rebound margin against Austin Peay.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)