ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: The 30th edition of the Arkansas women’s basketball team takes the floor this season with head coach Susie Gardner. Initially, Arkansas returned at least four starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 overall, reaching the second round of the Women’s NIT. However, the injury bug hit once again, and the Lady’Backs find themselves without last year’s leading scorer and preseason all-SEC post Sarah Pfeifer. A rough non-conference season, particularly on the road, prepared Arkansas for a 3-1 start in SEC play. It is an ensemble cast for the Lady’Backs who have only one player to start every game, and only four players to play each contest.
ABOUT THE LADY BULLDOGS: Sharon Fanning brings a young Mississippi State team to Fayetteville. An up-and-down season is the best way to characterize the Lady Bulldogs who lost to Arkansas at home to open SEC play, but followed it with a commanding win against arch-rival Ole Miss in the next game. Freshman Robin Porter is the leading scorer for State, but against Arkansas it was another rookie, freshman guard Marneshia Richard (11 pts) that led the way along with veteran Blessing Chekwa (10 pts).
SINCE OUR LAST EPISODE: Arkansas has gone 2-1 while Miss State was 1-3. All were conference games for both teams. Arkansas adds two players to the lineup missing at Starkville — Kristin Peoples and Danielle Allen were out of the lineup with injuries.
HOWDY PARTNER: This season starts a new two-year cycle for the SEC women’s basketball schedule. Miss State returns as Arkansas’ Western rotating partner in 2005-06. MSU was the West partner in 1997-98 and 1998-99. Arkansas’ new East partner is Vanderbilt which completes the cycle on the Eastern side of the league.
THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 26: As in opponent turnovers — Arkansas is 7-0 with 26 or more; 4-6 this year with 25 or less.
GOTTA HAPPEN TO WIN: Every time Arkansas has won this year they have led the game at halftime — 11-2 leading at recess. Two other big indicators: outshot the opponent (11-3) and committed fewer turnovers (11-3).
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Arkansas is undefeated at home in SEC play this season at 2-0 and 7-1 overall at Bud Walton Arena.
TREY MANIFIQUE: Arkansas breaks the top 20 this week in the NCAA stats at 20th for three-pointers per game at 7.1 per contest. Georgia tops the SEC (and ranks 12th).
DROPPING DIMES: The Lady’Backs continue top 20 in assists at 17.6 per game — a pretty unique achievement considering the aforementioned three-point ranking.
LOAD UP THE ARTILLERY: Arkansas ranks first in the league for three-pointers made per game against SEC foes — a whopping 10.25 per game. Even better, Arkansas is in the middle of a run against the teams that give up the most three-pointers in the SEC. After sinking 12 at league-worst Alabama (opponents hitting 32.3%) and pouring in a school-record tying 13 against 11th-place Auburn (.313), Arkansas hosts the 10th place three-point percentage squad in Miss State (.313). Next up — you guessed it, No. 8 Florida (.311). But don’t get too happy — you may have noticed we skipped No. 9. That’s because you can’t play yourself, and the Lady’Backs are giving up 31.1% from behind the arc.
QUAD DRIVE ON TREYS: In the SEC standings, Arkansas has four players ranked top 10 in three-pointers made per game, led by No. 5 Dominique Washington at 2.75. The Sisters Vaughn and Leslie Howard are in a nine-way tie for 10th with 2 made per game.
TO’S BABY: Arkansas leads the league again this week in turnover margin at +8.12. The traditional powers of turnover margin continue to roll as LSU is +8.07 and everyone else in the +5s and less. Miss State? They are next-to-last at -3.35, but that stat didn’t help against cellar-dweller Alabama (-3.75).
THE NEW HOBBSIAN PRINCIPLES: Senior Melissa Hobbs is bringing order to the center of Arkansas’ universe as the team’s number two scorer (9.3 ppg) and third rebounder (5.8 rpg). She ranks fifth in the SEC this week for offensive rebounds despite being the shortest player in the top five.
WHEN YOU SHOOT LIKE THIS . . .: Arkansas is averaging .403 from the field for the season, but .368 in SEC games which is 10th and .478 at the line which is last.
. . . AND YOUR OPPONENTS HIT . . .: Arkansas’ SEC foes are converting 45.1% from the field which ranks the Lady’Backs the 10th worst shooting defense.
. . . YOU BETTER GET MORE SHOTS: There’s only two ways to have more possessions, and so far this SEC season Arkansas has both of them working. Always an aggressive team with turnovers — and ranked No. 1 in the SEC for turnover margin this week — Arkansas has added a new passion for rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass, to bolster opportunities. Three Lady’Backs rank in the league-only SEC standings led by the improbable senior guard Rochelle Vaughn with 6.5 rpg.
COACH ALWAYS SAID, FOLLOW YOUR SHOT: And Arkansas’ guards are taking that cliche to heart as two Lady’Back perimeter types are leading the team in rebounding for league games. Rochelle Vaughn tops at 6.5 for league games (compared to 4.2 for the year) and Melissa Hobbs is third at 5.8 rpg (4.8 whole season). In fact, Rochelle is missing 5.75 field goals per SEC game in which she is rebounding 6.2, 3.75 on the offensive glass alone. At least in raw numbers, that means Ro might only be allowing the opponent to get two of her missed shots. Hobbs had missed only 25 field goals in league games, and she has 14 offensive rebounds. As a team, Arkansas is getting about half of its shots back in offensive rebounds through the first four league games.
VAUGHN INTO TOP 25; THE GAP IS NEXT: Senior Rochelle Vaughn has quietly moved up the career scoring list from her preseason 31st to 24th heading into the Miss State game. Vaughn has 813 points to edge past Shea Henderson for 24th. Next is Lanell Dawson at 858, then the Great Void. No Lady’Back that passed Dawson completed her career without joining the 1,000-point club.
CURRENTLY SEEKING SPONSORSHIP FROM WINDEX: Arkansas leads the SEC for cleaning the offensive glass with 19 o-boards per game. The Lady’Backs are currently a respectable fourth in rebound margin for league games only at +3.0 per game.
AND ONE FROM SOME LADDER COMPANY: Conversely, Arkansas is a dead last on the defensive end of the floor, pulling down only 19.5 d-boards per SEC game.
DECEPTIVE STARTING NUMBERS: Yes, Arkansas’ top and second leading scorers come off the bench, but when you look at the starting five in SEC games only it’s a different picture.
P 1 Kristin Moore 7.0 6.0
F 22 Melissa Hobbs 9.3 5.8
G 12 Sheree Thompson 5.8 2.0 1.5s
G 21 Rochelle Vaughn 9.0 6.5 2.5a
G 25 Brittney Vaughn 3.0 3.8 5.0a
SAME CAN BE SAID FOR STATE: Robin Porter is the overall leader, but through the first conference games Heather Hollis is the State leading scorer. Hollis jumps from 9.9 for the year to 12.8 in SEC games, while Porter drops from 10.3 to 7.7.
SERIES: Arkansas leads the series, 12-9, and currently rides a three-game winning streak against the Lady Bulldogs. In Fayetteville, Arkansas has lost only one game to MSU — that coming at the hands of the Lady Bulldogs’ all-America and now all-WNBA tandem of LaToya Thomas and Tan White.
LAST MEETING WITH MISS STATE: Kristin Moore played her first SEC game in a year, and turned in a season high 15 points with 10 rebounds to pace Arkansas. Moore scored the first five points of the game as Arkansas started slow, but took control of the game by midway through the first half. Defense was the key as MSU scored only five points in the last 15 minutes of the first half, and a 24-5 run to close the half gave the Lady’Backs the game. The Lady’Backs led by 20 just after half, 41-21, and weathered a MSU rally to pull away off timely second-half three-pointers from Dominique Washington who finished with 14 points.
PREVIOUSLY AT MISS STATE: Notes from the last meeting.
SENIOR NIGHT IN THE OPENER: Five of Arkansas six senior players played a major role in the historic win at Starkville. Along with Kristin Moore’s season-high 15 points, Rochelle Vaughn (9) and Adrienne Bush (6) had season highs for rebounds. Melissa Hobbs scored her career high for a SEC game with nine — all in the second half. Sheree Thompson had nine points, five assists and three steals, plus a dramatic shot-clock beating 26-foot bank shot down the stretch in the second half.
NEAR RECORDS AT STATE: Arkansas missed its school record for fewest points allowed in a SEC game by a single bucket. Miss State’s Miayorka Johnson saved the day with her three-pointer with 2:03 left to play to give State 45 points. For some time is appeared the Lady Bulldogs would break the mark of 43 points set by Kentucky in 1993 at Barnhill Arena. It does tie the second-lowest game — ironically 45 by Miss State in Fayetteville in 2001.
NEW STANDARD FOR FUTILITY: Arkansas held Miss State scoreless for 8:08 in the first half, a new record for the Lady’Back defense this season. The Lady Bulldogs scored two field goals — and five points — in the last 15:12 of the first half.
MOORE GETS SEASON HIGH: The 15 points by Kristin Moore, including the first five of the ball game for Arkansas, is a new season high for Moore. It was her first SEC game in over 12 months as she last appeared against a conference opponent (at Georgia) in December 2004.
AND ONE “MOORE” CHANCE: Kristin Moore picked up her career sixth double-double game at Miss State with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Miss State is the only SEC team Moore has made the double against — at State in 2004 and at the SEC Tournament in 2004. She gets one more chance at the end of this month when the Lady Bulldogs travel to Fayetteville on Jan. 22.
THE 99s: Sharon Fanning arrives in Fayetteville seeking her 500th career victory. It is ironic as Arkansas has faced teams or coaches with X-99 four previous times and lost each one. Joe Ciampi achieved his 600th career win in 2004 and Sue Gunter got her 600th (2000) and 700th (2004) career wins against the Lady’Backs. Tennessee got its program 800th at Knoxville in 2000.
HER 30TH; OUR 30TH: Sharon Fanning began her coaching career at Tennessee-Chattanooga in the same season Arkansas started its varsity women’s basketball program: 1976-77.
LAST TIME AT FAYETTEVILLE: Starting the season 0-4 in conference play and facing the nation’s leading scorer in MSU’s Tan White, Arkansas looked as if it might collapse. Arkansas defense, led by Adrienne Bush’s effort on White, frustrated the Bulldogs. Instead, it was Arkansas that put on the offensive exhibition, shooting a conference to-date best 50.8% from the field and 56% in the second half. Arkansas came within a point of its five starters in double digits as Sarah Pfeifer hit the first of a series of career high 20-point games with 21 points. Kristin Peoples snapped her slump with 16 while Bush had 13 to go with her defensive duties. Danielle Allen added 12 and Rochelle Vaughn had nine.
THE NEW POTO: Back in the day, Arkansas was all about Poteau — as in the Oklahoma hometown of its first Kodak All-American and two-time SWC player of the year Delmonica DeHorney. In this historic 30th season, it’s all about POTO — points off turnovers. Arkansas is averaging 27 ppg off opponent turnovers — that’s 38.5% of the offense from the defense.
NOTABLE FROM RECENT GAMES
THE STREAK IS OVER, LONG LIVE THE STREAK: With Danielle Allen dressing out against Auburn, Arkansas had its complete roster of 13 players for the first time this entire season. That’s one streak the Lady’Backs certainly hope to continue the rest of the year. Arkansas has “lost” 29 player games on the 13-player active roster. Add in Sarah Pfeifer to get to the original 14 player roster (and 17 missed games) and Arkansas is up to 46 games.
SCHOOL RECORD TIED FOR TREYS: The 13 three-pointers made against Auburn’s 2-3 zone tied the Arkansas record in a SEC game
SOME KIND OF SCHOOL RECORD FOR FT FUTILITY: Or it should be as Arkansas shot an abysmal 4-of-12 in the second half and only 5-of-17 for the game.
HOBBS NEAR DOUBLE: Melissa Hobbs came as close as one can to her second career double with nine points and nine rebounds against Auburn. The nine points ties her career best for a conference game.
FIRST TOP 25 WIN SINCE 2004: Susie Gardner picked up her second win over a top 25 team with her team’s upset of 20th-ranked Vanderbilt in overtime. Her first — and Arkansas’ most recent top 25 win — came over 16th-ranked Georgia in February 2004.
THE SISTERS VAUGHN: Rochelle and Brittney Vaughn were a combined 2-of-9 from the field heading into the final five seconds of regulation. Neither had a three-pointer until Brittney Vaughn launched a 40-foot buzzer beater to send the game into overtime. Rochelle was 1-of-5 from three-point range for the game, but her final shot of the contest — in the last minute of overtime — was a three-pointer to tie the contest with 14 seconds remaining.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Officially, Brittney Vaughn’s shot will be listed as a 47-footer. Initially scored 33, then revised post game to 40 based on recollections of media the video tape shows that Vaughn indeed shot from the mid-court stripe for her game-extending trey.
CALLING ALL MEDIA: To the best of WCO staff’s collective recollection, Brittney Vaughn’s halfcourt shot is the longest shot scored at home by the Lady’Backs — certainly at Bud Walton Arena. So far, the laundry list of famous long-distance connections includes: Rochelle Vaughn at Florida in 2004, India Lewis against NC State at Hawaii in 2001, Christy Smith at Louisville — and all of these share a common denominator: they are all going to halftime. Can you remember any other long shots? Please let Bill Smith know.
ABOUT THAT SHOT: Brittney Vaughn’s 40-footer sent Arkansas into overtime against 20th-ranked Vanderbilt. It was the first buzzer beater and the last long distance bucket since the half-courter by India Lewis against NC State in the Rainbow Wahine Tournament in 2000. Of course, Kelly Johnson also had a famous final second shot to hand Vandy an overtime loss back in the day (as in 1996).
THE FORGOTTEN SHOT: Recall that Brittney Vaughn scored the last five points of regulation for Arkansas. Her drive down and through the lane, punctuated with a reverse layup, cut the game to two, 45-43.
DEFENSE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING: Arkansas held its fourth team to less than 20 points in the first half with the 19 yielded to Vanderbilt. It was the season low for points in a half by the 20th-ranked Commodores. The Lady’Backs held the SEC’s overall most accurate team — and number four in the nation — to only 16.7% in overtime and 37% for the game.
ANOTHER FOUL GAME: Arkansas went 38:05 before it shot its first free throw in the Vanderbilt game. It took over 39 minutes before the Lady’Backs scored its first free throw. And, with only two free throws made it was a season low.
WELCOME BACK, PEOPLES: Cleared to practice Friday, junior Kristin Peoples made her first appearance since Dec. 6.
HOWARD ROCKS FROM BENCH: Leslie Howard did not play at Miss State, but immediately after the game Susie Gardner told her junior sharpshooter to get ready for Vanderbilt’s match-up zone. Howard did not disappoint with three first half treys to help build Arkansas’ 24-19 halftime lead. She came through at the line with the only free throw made of the game for Arkansas — the game winner — with 2.1 seconds left in overtime.
TOTAL TEAM EFFORT: Arkansas got points from 11 of its 12 active players against Vanderbilt.
HOW ABOUT FIVE POINTS A MINUTE: Brittney Vaughn scored all five of her points in the closing minute — actually closing 30 seconds — against Vanderbilt in regulation. Her drive down the lane and reverse layup followed by a miracle half-court shot accounted for all of her scoring.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO: That might be the question for the Auburn game. Arkansas’ offense over the years has famously under performed versus the Tigers. In fact, most of Arkansas’ records for offensive futility are against Auburn teams. Meanwhile, Arkansas defense has clamped down season lows on its first two SEC opponents.
THAT’S NO MONKEY: Arkansas got King Kong off its back in Starkville by winning the first SEC road opener in the 15-year membership of the Lady Razorbacks. The Lady’Backs were 0-8 starting SEC play on the road (the first overall game) and 0-14 in the first SEC road game. Arkansas now stands atop the league standings after game one for only the fourth time in those 15 seasons with the league.
SOMETHING FOUL ABOUT THOSE TWO LOSSES: There is a single constant in Arkansas’ last two defeats — fouls. In its most recent defeat, Arkansas never shot the bonus as Florida International had six first half fouls, three in the second for a total of nine fouls. For the game, Arkansas hit 6-of-7 for one of the best percentages of the year, 85.7%. Meanwhile, FIU went to the line 22 times, making 14, off of 20 Lady’Back fouls that including fouling out Arkansas’ leading scorer, Kristin Moore. At Western Kentucky, the Lady’Backs committed a near school record 31 fouls with another almost school record three players fouling out at Bowling Green. Western made (29) more free throws than Arkansas shot (18).
OFFENSE M.I.A. IN MIAMI: Arkansas scored 51 points in the first 30 minutes at Florida International and led by 17 points. In the final 10 minutes — 9:40 to be exact — Arkansas had one field goal and a total of three points while FIU went on a 24-3 run to turn the 17-point deficit into a four-point victory. Arkansas missed 10 straight field goals, 12 of its final 13 attempts, and aggravated the situation with five turnovers over the same time frame.
ANDJELKOVIC HIGH: Kristina Andjelkovic made the most of her “homecoming” trip to Florida at the FIU Fun and Sun. Andjelkovic came off the bench for a season high tying eight points against Florida International. The senior played her second season of junior college basketball at north Florida Chipola JC.
RECORD DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE: The 33 points allowed to Coppin State is the least yielded in a neutral court game in the 30-year history of the program. It surpassed 41 Hampton in the 2002 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands and — ironically — 41 by New Hampshire in the third-place game of the 1995.
FOURTH LOWEST ALL-TIME: The 33-point game with Coppin is the least since a 31-point game against Alabama State in 1991. The all-time marks are 19 at Bartlesville Weslyan in the third game in school history (and the all-time low for a road game) then 29 points — again Bartlesville Weslyan — at Barnhill Arena in the return game. Those games come from the first year of Lady’Back basketball. Arkansas gave up 29 points the second year of the program in a home game win over Cottey College.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?: The defensive effort is only surpassed by the offensive limbo of escaping with victory in a game with less than 50 points scored. The last time Arkansas won with under 50 was the epic 45-43 upset of then #24 Kentucky on Jan 23, 1993, the only win in Lady’Back history without a single double digit scorer and one of only three games all-time with zero over 10. Arkansas also beat UMKC in 1988-89, 46-42; and downed Prairie View A&M 48-45 in 1978-79.
MO LOW — SCHOOL RECORD FOR LEAST POINTS, TWO-TEAMS: The Coppin State game goes into the books as the lowest scoring game in Lady Razorback history with 82 points. Arkansas and Bartlesville Weslyan combined for 86 points in 1977, while the Lady’Backs and then Ladykats of Kentucky scored only 88 points in 1993. The 88 total also was hit in the UMKC game of 1988-89 and Arkansas-Rice (53-35) in 1979.
DON’T GO CHANGING: Rochelle Vaughn got blood on her jersey early in the game against Coppin State and was forced to change to number 23. In her new number, Rochelle Vaughn hit only 2-of-10 from the field, had zero assists and scored a mere five points.
DEFENSE SETS NEW STANDARD: Arkansas held UNO without scoring for 6:05 midway through the first half. It came on the heels of a 4:12 stretch and 4:00 to start the game — totaling up to only two field goals in 14:17.
POTO OPENS THE GAME: The Lady’Backs scored its first 17 points against UNO off turnovers to build a 17-4 lead. Arkansas forced 13 turnovers in the opening 10 minutes to take the lead. For the game, Arkansas had 32 — 11 from UNO’s point guard alone — and a turnover advantage of 15.
B. VAUGHN ALMOST GETS RECORD: Brittney Vaughn crushed her career high of eight assists (set earlier this year against Nicholls State) with 12 versus UNO. She came within two assists of breaking the sophomore class record of 14 set by India Lewis against Howard.
BUSH ON A ROLL: Adrienne Bush came off the bench for a career high 18 points against UNO, her second double-double game of the year. The senior hit 6-of-7 from the field and 6-of-8 from the line in just 15 minutes played.
HOWARD DOUBLE AGAIN: Three games into her Arkansas career, Leslie Howard picked up her third double-digit game with UNO scoring 15 points in only 16 minutes.
MOORE MORE THAN STATS SHOW: Kristin Moore started the season sluggish, hitting in the 30s. In her first two games since returning to the starting lineup, Moore is averaging 11.5 ppg, 11 rpg and .733 from the field in only 24 minutes per game. That’s significantly higher than her season 4.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg and .474 and her 2.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg and .301 as a sub in the first six games.
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE VICTORY: Arkansas forced a near -2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio from UTPA, picking up 11 steals in 27 turnovers and converting it into 34 points off turnovers. Equally impressive, on Arkansas’ 15 turnovers UTPA scored only two buckets — an opponent season low four points of UA turnovers.
A/T THE WAY WE D: Arkansas’ crushed Nicholls on the perimeter, forcing 27 turnovers and allowing the Lady Colonel offense to muster only seven assists in 17 made shots. That’s almost a -4:1 assist to turnover ratio for NSU.
ALLEN RETURNS: Danielle Allen is the first to say it was no big deal when she took the court against UTPA. It was to her teammates, coaches and the crowd as she received a polite round of applause when she checked into the game at the 12 minute mark. Her stats were modest for her first game back after taking the fall semester off to give birth to her son Caden, but it didn’t take long for Allen to pick up where she left off in one area. The team leader in charges taken, Allen picked up her first of the season within a minute of entering the game and earned a standing ovation from the bench.
MORE, MORE, MOORE: Nicholls State didn’t like it as Kristin Moore broke out with her first start of her senior season with a career high 14 rebounds and 14 points for her first double-double since the 2004 SEC Tournament. Moore had a near double by intermission, heading to the locker room with 10 points and eight rebounds. Equally impressive was her shooting percentage. Moore came into the game averaging only 30.4% from the field making seven field goals in six games played. Against NSU, Moore hit 7-of-10 from the field in her 30 minutes played, and picked off four steals.
HALF OF TWO PLUS FOUR? IT’S THREE: Number 24 made her debut at Hot Springs as Leslie Howard scored 14 points in her first official game as a Lady’Back. Draining her first three-point attempt of her career, Howard converted on half of her long-distance shots and scored over half (4) of Arkansas’ treys versus Nicholls State.
MERRY SESQUICENTENNIAL, COACH GARDNER: Susie Gardner earned her 150th career victory against Nicholls State at Hot Springs.
B-VAUGHN GETS ASSIST MARK: Brittney Vaughn turned in her best game operating the offense with a then career high eight assists against two turnovers in 27 minutes versus Nicholls State. With Kristin Peoples unavailable, the sophomore had the most minutes of any of the ball-handlers against NSU. Brittney also picked up five steals, also a career best.
HOPEFULLY NOT A PREVIEW: Western Kentucky’s size led to a 50-16 advantage in points in the paint and a 47-24 advantage on the backboards.
FOUR DOUBLES, BUT NO WIN: Arkansas got the offensive balance it needed at Western Kentucky with four in double figures, but the 73-point output — just shy of the season average at the time — was not enough to overcome the Lady Toppers’ inside power.
THAT’S FOUL: Arkansas had a near-miss at two of its school records at Western Kentucky. The Lady’Backs were called for 31 fouls, just three from the school record of 34 from the 1993 meeting at South Carolina. Three Lady’Backs fouled out of the game, one away from the school record of four. It seemed like Arkansas would tie or break the DQ record — one that dates to the AIAW era — as three Lady’Backs finished the game with four fouls.
JONES GETS FIRST DOUBLE: Arkansas picked up another double for the team and a first for freshman Whitney Jones against UMKC. The Blytheville native pulled down 10 rebounds for a new career high to go with her near-career 21 points.
WHO YA GONNA CALL? ZONEBUSTERS: UMKC wasn’t exclusively 2-3 as they were at Kansas City last year, but whenever the Kangaroos went zone Arkansas punished them from the perimeter. Kristin Peoples led the way with a new team high of four made (on six attempts). Arkansas hit a season best 9-of-17 from behind the arc.
ONE SHY OF ALL SCORING: Arkansas had another balanced scoring day with UMKC as nine of the 10 players in the game scored and four players were in double digits, two starters and two from the bench.
YOU DON’T SEE THAT VERY OFTEN: Arkansas’ shooting got worse the closer it got to the bucket against UMKC. The Lady’Backs’ shot 52.9% from three-point range, 52.2% from the field and 50% from the line.
WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS: In five of the first six games this season, Arkansas has seen at least one player pick up a major career game: Kristin Peoples’ 21 points and Whitney Jones’ 22 at SMU, Dominique Washington pulling down 25 with Memphis, 10 rebounds for Sheree Thompson at Portland, Ayana Brereton getting 18 against Grambling, Melissa Hobbs doubling Tulsa for 19 and 11 then Jones picking up the double of 21 and 10 against UMKC.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE STARS HAVEN’T ALIGNED: With the exception of Memphis, Arkansas hasn’t had all those star performances come together in a single contest this season.
HOBBS SCORES FIRST DOUBLE: Senior Melissa Hobbs got career highs for points and rebounds against Tulsa, and the first double-double of the year for Arkansas. Hobbs hit 19 points — more than double her junior season best of eight points — and pulled down 11 rebounds — another double of her previous high of five.
REBOUNDS TRUMP TURNOVERS: Arkansas had +9 in turnover margin and forced Tulsa into a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. The Lady’Backs also posted a 1.5:1 A:T. All for naught as the Golden Hurricane whipped up a storm of rebounds, 61-37, with almost as many offensive boards — 32 — as Arkansas had as a team — 37.
BENCH POWER: The starter shuffle against Grambling produced the most bench points of the season as the substitutes outscored the starters, 62-24. Not all of that can be attributed to former starter Kristin People’s career high 23 as the Lady’Backs got year-to-date highs from Kristin Moore (8) and Ayana Brereton (18).
COULD BE A FIRST: Arkansas had none of its starters in double digits, but three in double-digits from the bench. Three times in the 30-year history of the program Arkansas has not had anyone in double digits, but it will take some checking to verify if this was the first (or to find the last time) the double digit scorers were all off the bench.
PEOPLES “TIES” SCHOOL RECORD: The minimum for consideration for free throw percentage in a game is 10 attempts, and Kristin Peoples hit 11-of-11 with Grambling. That technically ties her for the school record at 1.000, but the most in a game gets the official mark — Christy Smith had 16-of-16 against Ohio State on Nov. 19, 1995.
MODELS OF EFFICIENCY: Aside from sharing the same initials, Adrienne Bush and Ayana Brereton were two of the most efficient players against Grambling. Bush started the game with 3-of-5 from the field for seven points in only 12 minutes. Brereton came on the court to hit 6-of-9 from the field, 6-of-7 at the line to score 18 in 23 minutes played.
LUCKY 7 FOR PEOPLES: For the fourth time in the first five games, Kristin Peoples had seven or more assists. Against Grambling, Peoples’ 7 assists were against only 3 turnovers. Seven was her pre-season career best, a mark she’s gotten twice this year but broke with eight against Memphis.
DIFFERENT FRESHMAN, SAME RESULT: For the first time, Whitney Jones wasn’t the star as the 6-0 post had a sluggish offensive start with Grambling but a strong defensive game as Arkansas’ leading rebounder (8) and shot-blocker (4). This game, it was Arkansas “other” freshman with the breakout game, Ayana Brereton.
A CAREER IN A HALF: Stop us if this sounds familiar to Danielle Allen’s season opener last year, but Ayana Brereton had her most minutes played in a single game and most points scored in a game by halftime. Brereton led Arkansas’ scorers with 10 points off 4-of-5 on her way to 18 for the game.
BALANCE CONTINUES: Arkansas had 10 players available for Grambling, and everyone saw at least 12 minutes of playing time. For the third time this year the entire team scored.
THE GOOD NEWS — FAST STARTS: Arkansas was rolling at McArthur Court, hitting three of its first four three-pointers to build an 11-2 lead to begin the game against Oregon. The Lady’Backs followed with the best half shooting the ball in just over four years at Portland State. Against Tulsa, the Lady’Backs held an 11-point lead late in the game.
THE BAD NEWS — SLOW FINISHES: The Lady’Back offense stalled with only three field goals in the final minutes of the first half to allow the Ducks to catch and pass Arkansas by intermission, 33-30. Same story, second verse at Portland State as the Lady’Backs hit only 21.6% for the second half and went on a two-minute per field goal pace down the stretch. Tulsa added to the woes with a 13-0 run at the end to down Arkansas.
DEFENSE FLEXES ON VIKINGS: The defensive end gave the offensive end every chance in the world at Portland State, holding the Vikings to only five free throws in the last five minutes of the game. In fact, PSU made a single point in the last three minutes of the game.
THOMPSON NEAR DOUBLE: Sheree Thompson was credited with 10 rebounds at Portland State to lead the team and give her a second career high for caroms in the first four games of this season. Combined with eight points, the senior guard had her best shot at a career double of her career at Arkansas.
SPUTTERS: Arkansas’ offense has developed a problem, first allowing Oregon off the mat after building a 10-point lead early, 22-12, with a 3:05 scoreless stretch leading to a 10-0 Duck run to tie at 22-22. Same with Tulsa as the Lady’Backs’ stalled for the final three minutes of the game and let the Golden Hurricane score the final 13 points of the game.
COMEBACK: A 20-6 run by the Lady’Backs down the stretch rallied 14 points off the 17-point deficit to Oregon, including an 11-2 climax on the run.
BRINGING BALANCE TO THE FORCE: In the first two games this year, the starting five has produced four scoring, two assist and one rebounding high. Four of the five have scored 20 points each. In the opener, Whitney Jones (22) and Kristin Peoples (21) took the lead at SMU. Memphis learned from that game, fronted Jones and isolated Peoples. The result? A career high for Dominique Washington (25) and a career tie for Rochelle Vaughn (22) with Sheree Thompson scoring a season high (16).
A DEFENSE SO GOOD IT LOOKS LIKE OFFENSE: Arkansas shredded regional rival Memphis with series record numbers, racking up the most points in the 15-game series (99) and largest margin (46). The offensive outburst was set up by another outstanding defensive performance in the halfcourt. The Lady’Backs were hitting high percentage shots courtesy of 32 Lady Tiger turnovers.
99 PUNKTE: Somehow, it sounds even better in German (points=punkte) as Arkansas scored the most points to date of the Susie Gardner era against Memphis. The 99 points bettered 86 in a then-runaway versus Centenary in 2004 and was one shy of the first century game since December 2001 for Arkansas.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH: Arkansas left the building after Memphis with numerous career marks. Kristin Peoples got her career high for assists with eight. Rochelle Vaughn tied her scoring with 22. Sheree Thompson broke her rebound high with eight to lead the team. Ayana Brereton got scoring (8) and rebounding (5) bests as did Dominique Washington (25p, 7 r). Whitney Jones picked up her rebound and steal highs with five each.
VERY HIGH STEAL PERCENTAGE: Getting the 32 turnovers from Memphis wasn’t the news for the Lady’Back defense — it was 21 steals in the 32. Every Lady’Back except Kristina Andjelkovic had a steal; all but Rochelle Vaughn had more than one.
JONES MAKES MORE HISTORY: Whitney Jones’ record effort earned her the first-ever Southeastern Conference women’s basketball freshman of the week honor on Monday. The league added a freshman honor to its weekly player honors for the 2005-06 season.
FRESHMAN STARTS: Whitney Jones’ 22 points is the most for a freshman starting in the opening game since 15 points by Karyn Karlin back on Nov. 23, 1995, against Texas-Arlington. Karlin went on to a pretty good year — SEC Freshman of the Year in 1996. Jones becomes the only freshman to start her season opener and score 20 or more. In fact, many future Lady’Back superstars didn’t have very auspicious opening games — Christy Smith and Shameka Christon each started their career openers but had 0 points. Her 22 also tops the most by any freshman in the SEC era as Wendi Willits came off the bench to score 21 at Providence in 1997. Jones’ 22 is the best of the SEC and SWC eras — box scores are spotty prior to the fourth season (1980-81).
DID YOU KNOW?: That while looking up the best freshman first games, it was discovered that Whitney Jones’ 22 points was the fourth most points by a Lady’Back in the season opener and Kristin Peoples’ 21 points ties for fifth. Kimberly Wilson’s 32 versus Pitt at the UNLV Tournament in 1995 tops the list, followed by 28 by Shameka Christon at Wichita State in 2003. Amanda Holley had 25 against Kansas State in 1982.
THATS MS ANDJELKOVIC TO YOU: Kristina Andjelkovic played some of her best games at the close of last season, but wiped the slate almost clean in her senior season opener at SMU. The 6-2 Serb crushed her career rebound high with a team-leading 11 boards. She equalled her junior best with eight points, but none bigger than her super-clutch 18-footer with 1:03 left to play to give Arkansas a three-point lead, 66-63.
BE ONE WITH THE BALL: Whitney Jones said she was focused on stopping her player, SMU leading scorer Janielle Dobbs, from scoring her 17 point average, then just letting the came to come to her. At the 3:29 mark in the second half, Jones became one with the game as a series of plays set the stage for Arkansas’ win. Jones drove inside to draw Joselyn Greenard’s second foul and sink a pair of free throws to cut SMU’s lead to one, 60-59. On the ensuing inbound, Jones’ steal from Dobbs gave Arkansas back the ball. Her offensive rebound kept the possession alive, then her driving layup gave UA the lead, 61-60. After a Julie Colli’s three, Jones responded with a three-point play of her own, a layup and Greenard’s fourth foul, that put Arkansas up for good, 64-63.
WORLD VIEW ON THREES: Really, more treys isn’t that big a surprise as historically, Arkansas has produced some of the SEC’s most prolific three-point shooters. On the SEC’s career top 10, Wendi Willits is the second all-time three-point shooter with 316 in her career, and Kimberly Wilson and India Lewis tie for sixth. Christy Smith just misses the SEC top 10, and that accounts for Arkansas’ career top four. Lewis (#4) and Willits (#5) rank in the three-point attempts while Smith is the seventh most accurate three-point shooter in SEC history. The one change this year is how many big guns Arkansas’ sports outside the arc.
SIGNING DAY NEWS: The Lady’Backs picked up four high school signees on the opening day of the early National Letter of Intent period. In-state, Arkansas signed Kendra Roberts, a 5-8 guard from Fort Smith, Ark., Northside High School. Susie Gardner picked up players from three neighboring states: Charity Ford, a 5-8 combo guard from Arlington, Texas, Juan Seguin; TaNisha Smith, a 6-2 forward from Kansas City, Mo., Lincoln Prep; and 6-3 forward Ashley Wilson of Byhalia, Miss.
KENDRA ROBERTS: The 5-8 guard averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 9 apg and 2 spg as a junior for Fort Smith Southside High. Roberts was an all-conference and all-region pick for the Lady Rebels. Playing her summer AAU basketball with the Arkansas Kamikazi team, The former Southside High guard will participate for Northside this season for Lady Bears head coach Rickey Smith. As a freshman, she averaged 18 ppg and 10 rpg and was the district MVP at Trinity Junior High. Her sophomore season at Southside, she averaged 12 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 spg and 2 apg and was named to the state’s top 10 sophomore list by Southern Starzz.
TANISHA SMITH: The 6-2 guard-forward averaged 16 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 apg and 3 spg for Coach Jeff Atkins at Lincoln Prep Academy as a junior. Lincoln finished the season in the Missouri state title game with a 26-4 record. She averaged 14 ppg and 8 rpg as a sophomore for the Tigers. Her career highs are 39 points and 17 rebounds. A three-time first-team all-district pick, Smith was also a first-team Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class AAAA all-state selection in 2005. She led her AAU team, Kansas City Keys, to a 62-3 mark this past summer for coach Harrell Johnson. The Keys reached the AAU Final Four in Orlando this year. Smith averaging 18 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.0 spg in AAU play, including a 31-point game against Cincinnati Nets, to earn AAU All-America honors. UPDATE: Smith is averaging over 28 ppg her senior year, and racked up 50 points in one pre-conference game for Lincoln Prep — half the team’s 98 points in the game.
CHARITY FORD: Ranked the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops, Ford averaged for Arlington’s Juan Seguin High. The co-MVP of District 7-AAAA, Ford averaged 18 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.3 spg for the Lady Cougars last season she racked up 596 points as half of one of the strongest backcourts in the state of Texas. UPDATE: Now ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Ford is averaging 17.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 apg. 4.0 spg off 53.6% from the field through the first 25 games of her senior season. Seguin was 22-3 through the middle of January.
ASHLEY WILSON: One of the top prospects from the state of Mississippi, Wilson did not participate in high school basketball last season while she was living in Ohio. The 6-3 swing post player currently attends Byhalia High School in Byhalia, Miss. The Indians’ leading scorer as a sophomore, Wilson is currently starting at point. UPDATE: As the point guard, Wilson was name MVP of one of the Indians’ preconference tournaments. BHS is 15-7 with two tournament titles heading into the heart of conference play.
PFEIFER OUT FOR THE SEASON: One day after being voted by the league’s coaches and media to the preseason all-SEC second team, returning leading scorer Sarah Pfeifer tore her ACL in her left knee during the opening minutes of the Red-White Game. Pfeifer had surgery on the knee in early November 2005 to begin the rehab process. The 2005 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pfeifer has already used a redshirt season in 2003 after a traumatic shoulder injury at the Loyola Marymount tournament. Regrettably, this marks the fourth major surgery (2003, left shoulder arthroscopic; 2004, left shoulder full cut; 2005, right shoulder full cut) in her Arkansas career.
LADY’BACKS VOTED PRESEASON 10TH AT SEC MEDIA DAYS: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks were voted in a tie for 10th place with Mississippi State by the media assembled for this year’s basketball media days in Birmingham. The media seconded the endorsement of the coaches by voting Sarah Pfeifer to the preseason all-SEC second team. Prior to media day, the league coaches picked Pfeifer preseason second team. Defending champion LSU and Tennessee split most of the first-place votes, with UT getting the nod on points in the poll with 251, followed by LSU in second at 248 but one more first-place vote (11 to 10 for UT). Georgia was third with one first-place vote and 224. Vanderbilt rounded out the top four. Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky were next before Arkansas and Miss State. South Carolina was voted 12th.
LUNCH WITH SUSIE: Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner’s next luncheon is Monday, Jan. 23. The luncheons begin at 11:30 at the Clarion Hotel. Cost is $8.50 for the buffet. For more questions, contact Lady’Back marketing at 575-7312.
LIVE LADY’BACKS: Arkansas will provide all games from Bud Walton Arena not available on cable television via LADYBACKS.COM video streaming, plus the Arkansas road game from Oregon via a shared feed in the XOS system. This means that 19 of Arkansas’ 27 regular season games can be viewed live by cable or internet.