HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The much-anticipated start to the 2009-10 University of Arkansas women’s basketball season is finally here as the Razorbacks open with Alcorn state in Hot Springs, Ark., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Head coach Tom Collen returns nine players from last year’s 18-14 team and welcomes a host of talented newcomers who are expected to immediately impact the program.
One of the leading returners is senior Chartiy Ford. Voted the Southeastern Conference’s Sixth Player of the Year, Ford has emerged as a team leader and mentor to younger players.
"We’re excited to be opening the season," Ford said. "Our goal is to go out and play as hard as we can. We want to execute our offense and defense and do all of the things we’ve been working on in practice."
Fellow senior post Ashley McCray echoed those thoughts.
"We’ve been preparing for this moment all summer," McCray said. "We enjoy playing in front of the large crowd that Hot Springs draws and we really want to show what we can do."
The year opens with a "home" game against Alcorn State (0-1) who opened the year with a loss at Alabama-Birmingham Friday. Although Arkansas doesn’t know much about its first opponent, Collen recognizes the difficulties in preparing for the first game of the season.
"The first three games are hard," Collen said. "There isn’t much information on the teams yet this year. There is no film from this year and you just never know what’s changed from last year. We know they have five or six newcomers and we did everything we could to prepare but we know we have to go into the game expecting anything.
"The team is excited and ready to go," Collen continued. "We’re ready to get on the floor and play against another team. We’re pretty healthy going into the season opener. We’ve put in a lot of good effort in practice and we’re ready to go."
Collen and his staff have worked hard in the off season shoring up some of Arkansas deficiencies. The Razorbacks have more height than in recent seasons and a bit more depth at all positions.
"I’m expecting us to be strong at the guard," he said, "but we also want to establish ourselves in the post early in the season. "We need to be good there to be competitive in the long-term."
The Alcorn State contest is the start of a grueling fall semester for the Razorbacks. They follow up with a trip to Southern Methodist Wednesday, Nov. 18, and return to Bud Walton Arena hosting East Tennessee State Nov. 22. The Razorbacks then hit the long road for tournament action in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.