ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: The 30th edition of the Arkansas women’s basketball team takes the floor this season with head coach Susie Gardner excited about her third Lady’Back team. Arkansas returns at least several starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 overall, reaching the second round of the Women’s NIT.
ABOUT THE DUCKS: Oregon lost three starters from one of its better teams, reaching the second round of the NCAA last season with a 21-10 record. The Pac-10 runners-up, Oregon was the only team to defeat league champion Stanford, and that happened at historic McArthur Court. Senior Chelsea Wagner is lighting it up from the outside for her final season, scoring 21 of Oregon’s 61 points this past weekend.
FIRST TIME TO THE BEAVER STATE: Arkansas adds a new state to the travel map with a two-game stand in the Pacific Northwest.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF DOUBLEHEADER: The Oregon game is at 5 PST to accommodate a Pac-10 match with Arizona for the Duck volleyball team at McArthur Court set for 8 PST.
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 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.
RETURN GAME FOR DUCKS: Arkansas and Oregon signed a home-and-home last year which brings the Lady Razorbacks west. Rather than play in a Thanksgiving tournament, Susie Gardner opted for the two-game trip.
ANOTHER FAMILIAR FACE: Arkansas’ second opponent on the trip is coached by another person with a Lady’Back tie — former assistant coach Charity Elliott. Elliott served as a member of Susie Gardner’s inaugural coaching staff in the 2003-04 season at Arkansas.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Arkansas follows Nevada to both Oregon and its next foe Portland State. Both teams also travel to nearby University of Portland before facing Arkansas.
TREY’S AWAY: Chelsea Wagner racked up a career-tying 21 points with Nevada hitting five three pointers in a game. That’s more than Arkansas scored as a team in the season opener (4) at SMU. As a team through the first three games, Oregon has hit .345 from behind the arc, 10-of-29.
EVEN THEIR SHORT PLAYERS ARE TALL: Arkansas finds itself undersized in most games, but the Ducks have only four players under 6-0. Even against the tallest of SEC teams, Arkansas won’t be as undersized as they are at Oregon. The Ducks entire starting five is listed at 5-10 and above compared to the Lady’Backs with four of its five starters 5-10 and below.
THE COMMONWEALTH DUCKS: Oregon has most of the major Canadian provinces represented — Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — plus two of Australia’s. The Ducks’ Aussies both played their pre-college basketball at the Olympic training school of Australian Institute of Sport.
A CLASH OF WILLS: Oregon’s half-court patience will be tested by Arkansas’ defense. The Ducks average 14.7 assists per game with a whopping 65% of all field goals assisted this season. The closest comparison among Arkansas opponents so far was half-court oriented SMU who ended up with an almost -3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 31 turnovers.
GO AHEAD, WE DARE YOU: Oregon’s opponents have averaged 10 three-point attempts in the first three games, but have managed to connect on only 10%.
LAST GAME FOR OREGON: The Ducks had no problems against Nevada, 61-50. Leading 36-20 by half, Oregon built the lead on 53.8% from the field. Chelsea Wagner put on a shooting clinic, hitting 5-of-7 from three-point range (6-of-9 overall) for 21 points to lead all scorers in just 30 minutes. Bev Smith cleared the bench as 10 of 12 players saw double-digit minutes played and all but two Ducks scored.
DUCKS ALSO OPEN EARLY: Not unlike SMU, Oregon has more games on the books than Arkansas thanks to a preseason engagement. The Ducks split games played in the Women’s Sports Foundation tournament, defeating St. Francis, 80-30, but losing to Temple, 51-46.
VERSUS OREGON: Arkansas leads the series 2-0 with wins at home last year and at Las Vegas back in the early 80s. This is Arkansas’ first ever game at Oregon, and first trip to the state.
LAST TIME WITH OREGON: Bench play continued to lead Arkansas as Ruby Vaden and Sarah Pfeifer combined for 21 points and nine rebounds against Oregon. Oregon was like Ducks in the Delta as Arkansas’ full-court defense almost set a school record for points allowed, keeping OU in single digits most of the first half and building a 16-point, 31-15, halftime lead. Oregon flew back into the game with a 13-1 run, but Sheree Thompson continued her hot hand, but this time it was the back of the hand as her game-saving blocked shot in the final seconds iced the win.
NOT MANY STARS BACK ON EITHER BENCH FROM LAST YEAR: The leading scorers of both teams are gone — Catherine Kraaybeld for Oregon had 20 to lead all scorers while Ruby Vaden came off the bench with 12 for Arkansas. Also among the missing are Duck point guard Corrrie Mizusawa and Lady’Back post Sarah Pfeifer — two players that had critical roles for their repsective teams.
BUT SHE’S BACK: Sheree Thompson was on fire during the early portion of last season, and scored nine points plus picked three steals. The guard had the play of the game with the only blocked shot of the contest for Arkansas as she emphatically rejected Kristin Forristall’s three-point attempt to send the game into overtime in the final seconds.
AND RIGHT NOW, SHE’S ON FIRE: Sheree Thompson pulled down a career high eight rebounds against Memphis along with 16 points, five assists, zero turnovers, two blocked shots and three steals in only 20 minutes.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH: Arkansas left the building 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.
THAT’S NOT A TYPO: Arkansas missed a single free throw against Memphis, the best single game effort in the past three years (13-of-14).
ALL HANDS ON DECK: Kristin Moore makes her season debut at Eugene after serving a five-game suspension. Adrienne Bush dressed for the Memphis game, but did not play due to injury. BUSH CLEARED: The day before returning to the roster, Adrienne Bush aggrivated a sprained ankle. The second-degree sprain required x-rays, which proved negative. While she was medically cleared to play against Memphis, she is anticipated to see action this weekend in Oregon.
GARDNER PLEASED WITH A/T: A point of emphasis this year for Arkansas’ guards, Susie Gardner has positive assist-to-turnover through the first two games at 1.26:1.
DEFENSIVE A/T EVEN BETTER: Arkansas crushed Memphis’ offense, allowing only eight assists and forcing 32 turnovers, a whopping -4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. For the year, Arkansas’ opponents are managing a -3.3:1 A/T.
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 38.5 ppg off opponent turnovers.
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.
CAREER STARTS: Kristin Peoples not only got her 500th career point, the junior finally broke through the 18-point barrier. Five times, Peoples scored 18 in her first two years. Her 21 gives her a new high game, and obviously, her first 20-point game. She also tied her career high with seven assists.
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.
MORE KRISTINA: It’s an esoteric record, but 11 rebounds by Kristina Andjelkovic ties the most by a Lady’Back in the season opener. And, the 11 is more common than you’d guess as five other players (Lanell Dawson, 1985; Stephanie Bloomer, 1994; Karyn Karlin, 1996; Kamara Stancle, 1997; Shameka Christon, 2003) have pulled off the feat.
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.
DID WE READ THAT RIGHT?: The much shorter Lady Razorbacks outrebounded SMU, 43-37, in what became a halfcourt game which should have favored the Mustangs. Arkansas pounded the o-glass for a 21-8 advantage.
A SEASON OF ADDITION: Although the loss of Sarah Pfeifer certainly deals a blow to Arkansas, the beginning of the 2005-06 season is the opposite of a war of attrition. The bench goes to 10 with the return of Adrienne Bush next game with Memphis. Kristin Moore makes her season debut in game three to bring the roster to 11. After the close of the semester, midseason transfer Leslie Howard hits the floor. Should Danielle Allen return during the holidays, Arkansas reaches 13 on the bench.
VAUGHN MOVES UP SCORING LIST: Midway through SEC play Rochelle Vaughn became the 42nd Lady’Back to score 500 points in her career, and with 648 ends the season ranked 31st all-time. Her 17 points to open the year against SMU moved her closer to breaking into the top 30. At 665 points, she only needs 12 more to pass Shaka Massey (676) which will break Vaughn into the career top 30.
VAUGHN GOES TO ASSIST TOP 8, KNOCKING ON STEAL DOOR: With her five assists against UNLV, Rochelle Vaughn passed Juliet Jackson for eighth place all-time at Arkansas. Vaughn heads into her senior year with 321 assists, and Cheryl Orcholski next on the list at 323. On the steal list, Vaughn has 168 for her career, and is 19 away from catching 10th place Shea Henderson with 187.
PEOPLES ONLY NINE AWAY ON ASSISTS: After her team-leading seven assists, Kristin Peoples he junior is only nine assists from jumping into the career top 20 at Arkansas.
RECORDS FALL IN FIRST EXHIBITION: Arkansas broke the school records for opponent turnovers against Cameron, forcing 40 miscues from the visiting Lady Aggies. As a function of the 40 turnovers, Arkansas also set a new exhibition record with 20 steals.
SISTERS VAUGHN TIE, BREAK MARK: Five steals in an exhibition game was the record at Arkansas, held by three players. Rochelle Vaughn tied that with five against Cameron, but her younger sister Brittney broke the record with six.
TREYS WAY AWAY: The impact of the experimental distance of 20-6 was unquestionable against Cameron. The two teams combined for only two made three-pointers off 19 attempts.
BUT SPOT ON WITH MSSU: Maybe it took a game to get use to, but Arkansas shot 40% from experimental three-point range (6-of-15) against Missouri Southern.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MOORE, BUSH SUSPENDED FOR PRESEASON: Senior returning starters Kristin Moore and Adrienne Bush are suspended for the three preseason games and opening games of the season. Moore will not play in the season opener at SMU or the home opener against Memphis due to violations of University policies. Bush will not play the opener at SMU due to violations of team and Women’s Athletics Department rules. Both continue to practice.
TICKETS ARE ON SALE: Season tickets for the 2005-06 season are on sale. Prices are $90 for reserved, $80 for student/senior citizen reserved and are available by calling 877-LADYBACK or 57-LBACK, or for new season ticket sales available on-line at LADYBACKS.COM. All season ticket renewals must be processed by the Lady’Back Ticket Office, but the season ticket form for renewals can be downloaded from the website.
LUNCH WITH SUSIE: Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner’s next luncheon is Monday, Nov. 28. 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.
FIGHTING RAZORBACKS: Arkansas’ two great comebacks last season from double-digit deficits. Suspected to be the greatest rally in a conference game at Arkansas, the 17-point comeback versus Mississippi State ranks in a tie for the fourth largest deficit overcome in Division I history. The Lady’Backs were down 42-25 with 4:38 left in the first half, and turned the game around to an 11-point lead with less than 30 seconds left before the final 80-73 score. Arkansas’ other rally, from 15 points down against Western Kentucky on Nov. 28, 2004, (28-13, 6:57 in the first half) to win 83-79, is just one point from tying the fifth largest — 16 points.
CALL HER THE QUEEN OF COMEBACK: Susie Gardner may have two entries on the greatest comeback list. While at Austin Peay during the 1999-2000 season, her Lady Govs trailed Tennessee State by 20 points, 61-41 with 7:32 left to play. Gardner pushed APSU to a 32-4 finish to win, 73-65. This would give her the second largest rally in NCAA history — two shy of the record of 22 — but perhaps the quickest comeback of all time. In the 22-point rally by Oregon over Arizona, the peak deficit was with 16:20 left in the game. The only other recorded 20-point rallies took longer. The first was by Florida in 1992. The Gators trailed Alabama with 11 minutes left and needed overtime to win. The other was when Southern Miss came back from a first-half 20-point deficit to Mississippi College in 1999. APSU is reporting in the 2000 game for addition to next year’s record book.
STEALS LEAD SEC: For only the fifth time in Arkansas’ 13 seasons in the SEC, the Lady’Backs led the league in a statistical category. The school-record 388 steals marks the first time since 2000 for the Lady’Backs to lead the SEC.