FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team was selected as the 42nd team in the CollegeSportsMadness.com preview list this weekend.
The organization is counting down their town teams with in-depth previews, notes and NCAA Tournament predictions. Those projections include the Razorbacks in the NCAA Tournament this year.
Final Projection: From CollegeSportsMadness.com
“Arkansas is very quickly moving in the right direction and they will want to keep that momentum going. Coach Dykes did a great job in year one and he did a great job during the offseason picking up quality newcomers. The roster finally has the depth to compete in the SEC. The Razorbacks may not be able to get to much better than 6-10 in SEC play, but a 7-9 or 8-8 record in the SEC will be enough to get Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament.”
Last year, under the direction of first-year head coach Jimmy Dykes, the Razorbacks advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This season, Dykes welcomes back four returners and has eight newcomers giving the team a fast and athletic look.
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Off the court, the hiring of Coach Jimmy Dykes made a pretty big splash for Arkansas. Few thought the immediate impact would be even great on the court. Despite a pretty limited roster, the Razorbacks went to the NCAA Tournament and knocked off Northwestern in the first round before falling to #2 seeded Baylor. The team finished SEC play with just a 6-10 record, but the schedule was tough and Arkansas was up to the challenge. With a huge group of newcomers, Coach Dykes has the depth he needs to start building an SEC contender.
2014-15 Record: 18-14, 6-10
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jimmy Dykes
Coach Record: 18-14 at Arkansas, 18-14 overall
Coach Dykes returns three starters in Jessica Jackson, Melissa Wolff and Kelsey Brooks. Jackson was the team’s top scorer last year, averaging 14.9 points per game. She added 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 block per game as well. The 6-3 forward is also the team’s top three-point shooting threat. Wolff is a more traditional forward who will stay in the paint. She is a very tough rebounder and led the team in that department last year. Brooks is the scorer in the backcourt, although her outside shooting was a bit inconsistent last year. The Razorbacks needed to go out and get some experience among their newcomers and they certainly did that. Coach Dykes picked up three very good junior college transfers. Alecia Cooley is a big 6-3 center and was a junior college All-American last year. She can step right into a starting spot and compete with some of the best post players in the SEC. Tatiyana Smith is another 6-3 center who comes from the junior college ranks. She may not score too much, but her length will be an asset. The last of the junior college transfers is guard Devin Cosper. Last year Cosper was the only freshman named to the junior college first-team All-America squad. The 5-10 sophomore is a big time scorer and adds a much needed scoring punch.
The potential problem is at the point guard position. Four-year starting point guard Calli Berna is gone. Not only did she dish out 5.2 assists per game, but Berna always played tough defense too. Brooks is an option to run the point. She did average 2.3 assists per game and her sliding over to the point would allow Coach Dykes to place Cosper into the starting lineup. The top freshmen in this class are also point guards. Both Jordan Danberry and Malica Monk will compete for major playing time running the point. Danberry is the more likely freshman to step into major minutes and potentially a starting job.
Arkansas is very quickly moving in the right direction and they will want to keep that momentum going. Coach Dykes did a great job in year one and he did a great job during the offseason picking up quality newcomers. The roster finally has the depth to compete in the SEC. The Razorbacks may not be able to get to much better than 6-10 in SEC play, but a 7-9 or 8-8 record in the SEC will be enough to get Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jordan Danberry, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Kelsey Brooks, Junior, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Jessica Jackson, Junior, Forward, 14.9 points per game
Melissa Wolff, Senior, Forward, 8.4 points per game
Alecia Cooley, Junior, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 59.7 (265th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.9 (22, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (291, 14)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.8 (38, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.8 (189, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 29.6 (224, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.3 (284, 11)
Rebound Margin: 4.2 (56, 4)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (231, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (26, 1)
Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#44 Jordan Danberry
#85 Malica Monk
For more information on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.