ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: The 30th edition of the Arkansas women’s basketball team takes the floor this season with head coach Susie Gardner. Initially, Arkansas returned at least four starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 overall, reaching the second round of the Women’s NIT. However, the injury bug hit once again, and the Lady’Backs find themselves without last year’s leading scorer and preseason all-SEC post Sarah Pfeifer. A rough non-conference season, particularly on the road, prepared Arkansas for a 5-1 start in SEC play. More injuries at midseason left Arkansas without its full roster to close the season, a situation exacerbated by the loss of Danielle Allen with a knee injury. It is an ensemble cast for the Lady’Backs who have only one player to start every game, and only four players to play each contest.
PREP HONORS ROLL IN FOR SMITH: Tanisha Smith was named Women’s Basketball Coaches Association high school all-America honorable mention last week. The Lady’Back signee and leading scorer for Kansas City’s Lincoln Prep was one of 40 players nationwide selected to the WBCA all-America squad — 20 all-Americans, 20 honorable mentions. The week before, Smith learned she was a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American game. Averaging 28 ppg for Lincoln Prep, Smith led her team to an undefeated conference season and into the Missouri Class AAAA state tournament this week.
TWO BIG MACS: Tanisha Smith isn’t the only McDonald’s nominee in Arkansas’ incoming freshmen class. Kendra Roberts of Fort Smith Northside also received word that she’s a nominee for the high school game.
M*A*S*H UNIT HEADS TO NLR: Hawkeye Sarah Melby brings her portable training room unit to ALLTEL Arena on Wednesday to set up shop for the Lady Razorbacks. In the past month, the injury woes have become acute with the loss of another player for the season (Danielle Allen’s torn ACL) and two more on the chronic injury list (Adrienne Bush and Whitney Jones).
THE LONGEST GAMES MISSED REPORT IN THE NCAA: Each year, the NCAA committee asks for each teams’ “games missed” report. Arkansas might have the topper as this season becomes one in which you can’t tell the injuries without a scorecard. Two Lady’Backs are out for the year with ACL tears — 2004-05 starters Sarah Pfeifer (before the year) and Danielle Allen (two weeks ago) — and a third is functionally out for the year — another 2004-05 starter and this year’s “leading” scorer Kristin Peoples with a bad back. Freshman Whitney Jones minutes played is severely limited by her left foot and shin injuries. Brittney Vaughn is coming off a deep thigh bruise against Georgia. Adrienne Bush’s left elbow is aching and the senior now plays with a sleeve. Top that off with missed games early by Sheree Thompson for family emergencies, twice.
SUPER START: Arkansas set school bests getting out of the blocks in SEC play, winning its first-ever SEC road opener (in 15 years in the league), making a 3-0 start to tie most consecutive wins and a 5-1 beginning (and even 5-2 at the turn is a best).
FREAKY FEBRUARY: The shortest month of the year was the longest for Arkansas in 2005-06 as the Lady’Backs were winless during the month at 0-7. It is the worst February on record, topping a one-win February in 1980. The eight-game skid to finish SEC play is the longest losing streak for conference games (previous was six by the 2000 team).
IF YOU’RE CURIOUS: 10 games is the longest losing streak to SEC teams (seven to end the 2000 season, three to open the 2001 season); nine games for regular season (the seventh loss in 2000 was to UF in the tournament). 1992-93 was the last losing season at 13-14, a year with the minimum number of NCAA games due to the transition to the SEC.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK TO THE GYM: Danielle Allen’s season-ending ACL injury insures that the Lady’Backs will close the year with only two games out of the year with a full roster of players. When Allen dressed out against Auburn, Arkansas had its complete roster of 13 players for the first time this entire season. That gave Arkansas two games — the following game with Alabama — with it’s entire roster. Arkansas has “lost” 41 player games on the 13-player active roster. Add in Sarah Pfeifer to get to the original 14 player roster (and 27 missed games) and Arkansas is up to 68 games.
GRADS AND GRAD STUDENTS: Arkansas sees seven players depart from this year’s team, but only four that were listed as seniors on the roster. Two were graduate students, Rochelle Vaughn and Adrienne Bush, that graduated last year but returned for final seasons of eligibility. Another, Kristin Peoples, graduates this spring and is moving on to prepare for medical school. By the way, Bush will finish her graduate program this summer, giving her a master’s degree after a study abroad summer.
SURGERY SCHEDULE: Danielle Allen’s ACL repair was set for March 9.
NO SUCH THING AS A “FREE” THROW: In SEC games, Arkansas has five games with less than 10 free throw attempts. Two more games the Lady’Backs had 10. That’s a total of eight 10 and under. In those games, Arkansas is 2-6. The low attempts came at Tennessee with four. The most Arkansas has shot at the line was 18 at South Carolina. The Lady’Backs have made 10 or more free throws in only four games (10 with UF, 11 at UM, 12 at USC and 13 with UG). The low made was one at Vanderbilt.
WASHINGTON SETS RECORD: Dominique Washington broke the school record for most points in a regular season SEC game with 37 at Ole Miss. Hitting 12-of-22 from the field and 7-of-14 from three-point range, Washington’s effort broke the mark of 33 points co-held by Shameka Christon and Wendi Willits. Coincidentally, Christon’s 33 came two years previous to the game — Senior Day on the last game of the regular season at Ole Miss.
ESOTERIC, BUT RECORD NONE THE LESS: Dominique Washington’s 37 points at Ole Miss ties for the fourth-largest point total in a single game in UA history. It also is the most points ever scored by a player coming off the bench. Shelly Wallace (44 vs. UTPA), Shameka Christon (40 vs. Vandy at SEC Tournament), Delmonica DeHorney (39 vs. SFA in NCAA tournament) and Bettye Fiscus (37 vs. Alaska-Anchorage at the Northern Lights Invitational) were all starters in their high-point games.
MORE RECORDS: Dominique Washington’s 37 wasn’t the only individual best at Ole Miss. Along with a career high, Brittney Vaughn tied the school mark for defensive rebounds in a league game with 12. Her 13 total rebounds was only three off the all-time mark of 16 set by Stephanie Bloomer.
WHEN GUARDS REBOUND: Bad things happen, at least when Lady’Back guards lead the team in rebounding. Arkansas is 4-10 when a guard types lead the team in rebounds, including converted guard Melissa Hobbs. Removing Hobbs, who technically is a forward this spring, Arkansas is 2-8.
LEAN, MEAN PERIMETER REBOUNDING MACHINE: Brittney Vaughn tops the charts for Arkansas for the number of SEC games leading the team in rebounding. Vaughn has been Arkansas’ leading rebounder in five of the 14 league games (Melissa Hobbs is next with four; Kristin Moore, 3; Whitney Jones, 2; Rochelle Vaughn 1). Not only does 5-7 Brittney have the top game at 13 boards (UM), she has the third highest with 10 (@USC). Vaughn and Kristin Moore, 6-0 starting post, are tied for second behind Melissa Hobbs for rebounding average in SEC games. Hobbs is at 5.8 with Vaughn and Moore at 4.6.
PEOPLES MAKES ACADEMIC TEAM: Kristin Peoples was named third-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America on Tuesday. Although missing much of the SEC season, Peoples was voted first team all-district, which moved her forward to the national ballot in early February. She becomes the second Lady’Back to earn the national honor. Last season, she made the national ballot after placing on the all-district team, but did not advance to the national team.
THE MAGIC NUMBER WAS 26: As in opponent turnovers — Arkansas is 7-0 with 26 or more; 5-6 this year with 25 or less.
TREY MANIFIQUE: Arkansas drops in the NCAA stats for three-pointers per game to 16th after a season high 11th last week with at 7.1 per contest. Georgia moved back ahead of Arkansas to lead the SEC and bump up to 11th in the country at 7.3 per game.
WHEN YOU SHOOT LIKE THIS . . .: Arkansas is averaging .376 from the field for the season, but .356 in SEC games which is 11th.
. . . AND YOUR OPPONENTS HIT . . .: Arkansas’ SEC foes are converting 46.6% from the field which ranks the Lady’Backs the worst shooting defense.
. . . YOU BETTER GET MORE SHOTS: There’s only two ways to have more possessions, and when Arkansas was winning during the SEC season the Lady’Backs had both of them working. Always an aggressive team with turnovers — and usually ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the SEC for turnover margin — Arkansas has added a new passion for rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass, to bolster opportunities.
OR THEY BETTER COUNT FOR MORE: Of the 317 field goals Arkansas has made in league games, more than a third — 113 — are behind the arc.
914,262: In 30 seasons of women’s basketball, that’s how many fans have attended Arkansas home games in Fayetteville. The Lady’Backs game with Miss State tipped the scales over 900,000, with the 4,422 for the current season high with UK taking the total to just shy of 912K.
ALLEN OUT FOR SEASON: At the end of Thursday’s practice, Danielle Allen injured her left knee. Initial tests reveal that she has torn ligaments, like the ACL, and she is out for the rest of the season.
PEOPLES GRADUATES: Kristin Peoples is departing from Arkansas after this season. The junior on the court was a senior in the classroom, and graduates this spring in biology pre-med. She will move on to prepare for medical school acceptance this fall or the next. Peoples did not play most of the season due to recurring back injuries. She re-injured her back in practice on the Friday prior to the USC game when she ran into a screen. While she dressed for two games (USC, LSU), she was unable to play. She has not made the recent road trips, and did not dressed the last games of the season. She did not travel with the team to the SEC Tournament.
NEXT FOR ARKANSAS: Spring signing date for women’s basketball is April 12. The Lady’Backs can sign as many as four more players during the late period.
NOVEMBER 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.
SIGNEES ARE ON TO STATE: Tanisha Smith and Lincoln Prep swept their conference at 12-0 and stand at 20-4 for the season heading into postseason time in Missouri. Charity Ford and Seguin High in Arlington, Texas, completed a perfect season in District 7-4A this week, and are awaiting pairings for the Texas bi-district tournaments.Ashley Wilson’s Byhalia High Lady Indians swept their division at 6-0 and will host the District 3-3A regional at BHS this coming weekend. Kendra Roberts and Northside High of Fort Smith are also undefeated in district play, taking a 13-0 mark in the 5-A West into this coming week’s games and claims no worse than a share of the district title.
SMITH NAMED WBCA HS AA HM: Tanisha Smith was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association’s high school all-America team as an honorable mention. The 6-2 forward has also been nominated for the McDonald’s All-America game. The WBCA selects 20 players for the all-America team and 20 players as honorable mention each season. The last Lady Razorback to earn WBCA honors was former post Ruby Vaden in 2002
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.
THE ROBERTS UPDATE: Roberts is averaging 12 ppg to led the Lady Bears to an undefeated conference mark (16-0) and 24-3 overall. Northside won its seventh straight 5-A West title, and Roberts was in double figures by halftime as NHS won its 54th consecutive home game for Coach Rickey Smith over Russellville. Roberts finished the game with 17.
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.
THE SMITH UPDATE: Smith can add McDonald’s All-American nominee to her resume at the end of her senior season. Smith racked up 50 points in one pre-conference game for Lincoln Prep — half the team’s 98 points in the game. Considered one of the two best players in Kansas City this season, Smith received an award for her 1,000th career point at Lincoln toward the end of the regular season. She heads into the postseason averaging 27 ppg, 14 rpg, 5 apg and 3 spg.
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.
THE FORD UPDATE: Now ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Ford is averaging 17.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 apg. 4.0 spg off 53.6% from the field through the first 25 games of her senior season. For the regular season, Ford ranked ninth in scoring among all 4A players in the North Dallas region with 17.2 ppg for the year. Seguin closed the regular season at 30-4 overall, sweeping through District 7-4A with a 14-0 mark. Seguin has the No. 1 offense in the DFW metro area averaging 68.5 ppg, more than five points per game better than No. 2 Seagoville and one of only three Class 4A teams averaging over 60 ppg. Defensively, Seguin is sixth in the region for the regular season giving up only 39.2 ppg. Ford finishes her SHS career undefeated in district play. Bi-district tournament play begins this weekend for Texas 4A schools.
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.
THE WILSON UPDATE: As the point guard, Wilson was name MVP of one of the Indians’ preconference tournaments. In a do-all roll for the Lady Indians, Wilson recently pulled down seven rebounds as BHS moved to 21-6 overall to clinch the top seed and host role for the Region 3-3A tournament next week in a 50-49 win over Water Valley. Wilson is the team’s leading scorer with 12 ppg. Byhalia swept its division with a 6-0 mark.
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. It is her fifth overall, including plastic surgery after a broken nose in the 2003 season.
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.
LADY’BACKS FINISH TIED FOR EIGHTH: Without three starters by season’s end, Arkansas managed to battle to a tie for 8th place after being voted in a tie for 10th. Imagine where the media may have voted Arkansas if the ballot was taken two days later — when the Lady’Backs lost their leading scorer and preseason all-SEC post Sarah Pfeifer.