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Collen, Razorbacks hosts Newman Wednesday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Collen, Razorbacks hosts Newman Wednesday

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team hosts Newman University in an exhibition contest Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. It is the only exhibition contest of the year for Arkansas. The Razorbacks open the regular season Nov. 11 at the WBI Tip-Off Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. “We’ve been practicing for nearly a month now,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said, “and we are ready to play against someone in a game atmosphere. We have done a really good job in the preseason and the team is excited to get things underway.” This year’s team returns a recognizable corps of players paced by senior three-year starting guards C’eira Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris. Ricketts paced the team in several statistical categories and is a preseason All-SEC selection. In addition to the guards, Arkansas returns senior starters Jamesha Townsend and Ashley Daniels along with preseason All-SEC selection junior post Sarah Watkins for what could be one of the only teams to welcome back all five starters. “This has been a fun preseason,” Daniels said. “It’s been exciting to play with a lot of different combinations of players in practice. We all know that we have to come out and play our best in every practice because we have a lot of players who are capable of stepping in.” “We are excited to have a veteran team returning,” Collen said. “I can’t remember a team I coached that returns their top seven or eight scorers. This group had a lot of ups and downs last year, but the first thing that comes to mind is that experienced players tend to make fewer mistakes. “Although the starting lineup is still to be determined, I know the competition between veterans and newcomers is making us better. We will be a little more confident and relaxed in late game situations and that could be the difference in the postseason this year.” A look beyond Arkansas’ five returning starters reveals more of what Collen is excited about. Juniors Julie Inman and Quistelle Williams each have two years in the system and sophomores Keira Peak and Dominique Robinson, coming off a redshirt season, both have significant minutes on the court as Razorbacks. Mix in two other redshirt players in Erin Gatling and Kelsey Hatcher along with an athletic freshman class that includes Fayetteville, Ark., product Calli Berna, along with Joey Bailey and Jhasmin Bowen and it is easy to see why Collen is excited for the season to begin. “A lot of people say ‘oh it’s (Arkansas) just down the road’ but it’s a big transition from high school to the SEC,” Berna said. “You have to work hard every day. The speed and intensity are tough but the upperclassmen have been a big help. They pull us to the side and help us get better in each practice.” Collen paced the Razorbacks to a 12-win start last year, got the team back into the top 25 rankings in both polls and finished up with a solid run to the WNIT Quarterfinals in the postseason. With nearly all of his scoring and defense returning, Arkansas is a team who could challenge for bragging rights this year. Tickets for this year’s season are on sale at the Razorback Ticket Center by calling 575-5151 or on-line.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)