A warm welcome to 2006-07 Associated Press voters. For those who are new or recent members of the poll, let me take a moment to introduce myself and my University. More important, how we will relate with you this season. My name is Bill Smith, and I have been the women’s basketball contact here since 1989. I’ve worked with women’s hoops either in the media or as the SID since before the dawn of time — well, at least the dawn of the NCAA era in 1982, but not longer than Mel.
From the start, let me assure you of two things. I will not bother you when our team is not worthy of your attention. Notice, this is the first email you’ve received, and if we proceed to sink, I will not waste your time or bandwidth.
Second, if you want to opt out on any future emails — send me something direct to my mail box at email@example.com. The other links on this system don’t always work.
Niceties finished — to the matter at hand. As you prepare your vote for this weekend, please consider joining your handful of fellow voters (24 points worth this week) that added Arkansas to the ballot. Why?
Arkansas is 7-1, best start in the Susie Gardner era and two games away from tying the best 10 game start (9-1) at UA.
Arkansas is very young — four freshmen are playing key roles, plus a powerful JUCO transfer — and this has dramatically changed the Lady Razorbacks from previous years.
Arkansas is also quite old — two players that were the leading scorer and rebounder in 2004-05 (probably the last time we were on your radar screen) are back from season-robbing ACLs last year: Sarah Pfeifer and Danielle Allen.
Arkansas is talented — perhaps the least heralded of our freshmen, Coldwater, Miss., freshman Donica Cosby was just named SEC Freshman of the Week for leading Arkansas in scoring at the Rainbow Wahine. And Cosby was not our WBCA honorable mention all-America signee (that’s swing guard Tanisha Smith).
Arkansas is tough — no tougher than former California junior college player of the year and Kodak JUCO All-America Lauren Ervin. Look at the picture above. That’s Lauren at the Rainbow Wahine last week. That bandage covers a compound dislocation of her left pinkie, suffered the day before the tournament. Gritty and determined to play, she had the trainer push the bone back in, took two stitches, a masterful tape-and-padding job and played on to lead Arkansas in rebounding the entire tournament –nine per game plus 11 points — and this week is tied for the lead in the SEC in rebounds with 9.8 rpg.
Arkansas is getting it done — even with a one-handed post player, Arkansas reached the finals of the Rainbow Wahine, decisively defeating Hawai’i on its home floor in the second round (something no other team in the tournament achieved) and pushing No. 2 North Carolina into the second half. What didn’t come through in the final were Arkansas’ runs to first tie the game at the end of the half, then cut to nine with 12 to play. Not bad for a young bunch of players.
Arkansas has two games this weekend — Portland State on Friday and Texas Southern on Sunday. FYI — Portland State upset the Lady’Backs last year in Portland.
Until next week, as they say in the Islands, mahalo for voting.