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Lady’Backs hit the road for second round of WNIT

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs hit the road for second round of WNIT

TELEVISION: None

RADIO: Lady Razorback Radio Network (CST); 6:40 p.m; 7:05 tipoff

KABZ (103.7 FM), Little Rock (LIVE-JIP)

KBNV (90.1 FM), Fayetteville-Springdale (LIVE)

KXUA (88.3 FM), Fayetteville (LIVE)

KHOZ (900 AM), Harrison (LIVE)

INTERNET: LADYBACKS.COM; free audio stream

ARKANSAS LADY RAZORBACKS (17-13, 3-11 SEC)

POSSIBLE STARTERS

F 14 Danielle Allen 6-0 SO Harrison, AR (Harrison) 9.3 5.3

F 33 Sarah Pfeifer 6-0 SO Ozark, AR (High) 11.9 4.5

G 4 Kristin Peoples 5-7 SO Westerville, OH (Brookhaven) 9.4 3.2a 1.8s

G 21 Rochelle Vaughn 5-9 JR Plano, TX (Plano West) 9.3 4.6 2.9a

G 44 Adrienne Bush 5-8 SR Russellville, AR (High/SMS) 3.6 2.4

OFF THE BENCH

P 11 Kristina Andjelkovic 6-2 JR Belgrade, Serbia (Chipola JC) 1.9 1.3

G 12 Sheree Thompson 5-10 JR McComb, MS (NW-Shoals) 5.7 2.8 2.5a

G 15 Allison Singleton 5-5 SR Fort Smith, AR (Southside) 0.4 0.0

G 22 April Seggebruch 5-10 SR Cissna Park, IL (Wabash Valley) 3.5 1.4

G/F 23 Melissa Hobbs 6-0 JR Woodward, OK (High/Colo.) 2.4 1.3

G 25 Brittney Vaughn 5-7 FR Plano, TX (Plano West) 3.6 2.0 1.7a

INJURED — OUT FOR SEASON

F/P 1 Kristin Moore 6-1 JR Chicago, Ill. (John Hope) 6.3 5.9

P 55 Ruby Vaden 6-3 JR Osceola, AR, (High) 6.5 3.9

HEAD COACH: Susie Gardner (Second year at Arkansas, 33-25; eighth overall, 145-117)

ARKANSAS STATE LADY INDIANS (20-10, 11-3 SBC)

POSSIBLE STARTERS

F 42 Vanessa Schrock 5-11 SR Cedar Rapids, IA (Kirkwood JC) 4.0 5.7

C 34 Adrianne Davie 6-3 SO Little Rock, AR (Cent. Ark. Chr.) 14.8 9.8

G 3 Rudy Sims 5-7 SO Memphis, TN (East) 11.4 2.6

G 33 Zaneta Lane 5-11 SR Richton Park, IL (East) 8.5 4.4

G 40 Ali Carter 5-9 JR Pocahontas, AR (High) 13.5 4.0

OFF THE BENCH

F 50 Tabitha Christian 6-3 SO Huntsville, AR (High) 1.2 0.8

F/C 35 Rachel Brown 6-2 FR Kennett, MO (High) 1.4 1.1

C 25 Rodneikka Freeman 6-4 SR Stone Mountain, GA (Kansas) 1.0 1.2

G 1 Katie Caraway 5-7 JR Mt. Pleasant, AR (High) 7.3 2.4

G 5 Kelsey Lock 6-0 FR Republic, MO (High) 5.8 3.6

G 30 Ronnie Maglaughlin 5-9 JR Haysville, KS (Dodge City CC) 1.7 0.8

G 15 Kelley Alford 5-8 FR Baton Rouge, LA (Chr. Life Aca) 1.2 0.6

HEAD COACH: Brian Boyer (Sixth season at ASU)

HISTORIC MEETING: Arkansas and Arkansas State have not met in women’s basketball since the start of the NCAA era. The Sportsview.tv Women’s NIT brings together these two women’s basketball programs in the second round of the 2005 tournament. Both teams won home games, although ASU had little trouble dispatching Mississippi State while the Lady’Backs had a tougher time with Mountain West Conference member UNLV.

ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: Susie Gardner comes to the close of her second season at Arkansas with one of the most interesting seasons in school history. At the start of the year, Arkansas returned four starters from a 16-12 team, and picks up two more potential starters that missed virtually all of 2003-04 with injury. At the same time, the Lady’Backs have only three seniors with a combined varsity experience of a season and a half at Arkansas. Defense dominated for Arkansas as the Lady Razorbacks early this season had one of the best starts in school history. At midseason, the Lady’Backs lost starting center Kristin Moore and her primary backup Ruby Vaden for the season to ACL injuries. Gardner retooled the team again as conference play began, splitting the four-spot combo of Sarah Pfeifer and Danielle Allen into a power-and-speed post tandem.

ABOUT THE LADY INDIANS: The 20-game winners from Arkansas State head into the long awaited game with Arkansas as the team unblemished by major injury or defeat at home. A trio of Lady Indians average double digits as ASU has a balanced scoring attack led by sophomore center Adrianne Davie (14.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and shooting guard Ali Carter (13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg). Rudy Sims rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.4 ppg. The Lady Indians are very accurate from behind the line, hitting 34.6% as a team with four of five starters cranking treys, including the center Davie. Unlike Arkansas, ASU has a well defined starting five with four players starting all 30 games, and the fifth starting 29 of 29 games played.

MAKE NO MISTAKE, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Arkansas State is perfect in the Convocation Center this season at 12-0. The closest game for ASU this season was a three-point decision with Middle Tennessee, 72-69. The rest were double-digit thumpings. Meanwhile, Arkansas kept its program record home winning streak against non-conference teams rolling at 22 games with a win Friday over UNLV.

VERY MUCH SO IN THE WNIT: So far, the home teams have won seven of eight games on our side of the bracket and 13 of 16 in the 2004 bracket. Historically, the home team has distinct advantage in the WNIT. It certainly is the case for Arkansas who has never lost a home WNIT game to a non-conference team, and only has one home loss all-time in the WNIT (Florida, 2000 semifinals).

FIRST TIME ON THE ROAD IN WNIT PLAY: This marks the first road game for Arkansas in the current WNIT format. Of course, in the now defunct NWIT the Lady’Backs had a total of six neutral court games in Amarillo, Texas. Arkansas was 4-2 in those games at the Amarillo Civic Center.

ROAD WOE-RRIORS: The Lady’Backs have had a rough time away from Walton Arena, posting a 3-7 record in road contests. The non-conference was a little easier as Arkansas took wins at Memphis, UMKC and Cincinnati, but none of the games were comfortable as the Lady’Backs fought off comebacks from both Memphis and UC to hang onto road wins. Adding to the 3-7 road mark are some dramatic shifts in statistics on the road for the team and certain players. Arkansas‘ road-only stats are after the full season stats.

BETTER ON ALMOST EVERY OFFENSIVE STAT: ASU has the advantage across the board on Arkansas when it comes to shooting and scoring. The Lady Indians are hitting 43.1% from the field and 34.6% from behind the arc for 68.9 ppg and a +8.1 scoring margin.

SECOND ROUND, WELL, NOT SO MUCH: Arkansas took it on the chin in the second and third rounds of the NWIT back in 1996, and has struggled mightily in round two of the WNIT. In fact, both of Arkansas‘ second round WNIT games were overtime thrillers. The first was in 1999 as Arkansas survived both Oklahoma and a Spring Break depleted crowd of 890 to advance, 97-93, thanks to a WNIT game record 35 points from Wendi Willits. In 2000, it was more of the same as Missouri pushed Arkansas to the brink, 89-88. Arkansas’ NCAA trips have ended in round two the past three visits (2000, 2001 and 2002), and with the exception of the miracle run to the Final Four in 1998 Arkansas has made past its second postseason game in the NCAA only one other time, the 1990 SWC championship season run to the Elite Eight. For all NCAA second games, the Lady’Backs are 2-4. (Recall in 1991, Arkansas received an opening round bye and the Lady’Backs’ second game was actually in the Sweet 16, a shocking loss to Lamar).

SERIES: Arkansas leads the series, 5-2, but is only 2-2 at Jonesboro. None of the games were played in the Convocation Center. The Fayetteville contests were at Barnhill Arena.

PFEIFER SIX FROM 500: Sarah Pfeifer heads to Jonesboro only six points from becoming the 43rd Lady’Back to score over 500 points in her career.

PEOPLES ONLY 20 AWAY: Right on Pfeifer’s heels is Kristin Peoples with 480 points. The sophomore is also only 17 assists from jumping into the career top 20 at Arkansas.

VAUGHN 14 BOARDS FROM TOP 30: Rochelle Vaughn heads into the game with 317 rebounds for her career, needing only 14 more to pass fellow guard Allyson Twiggs at 330 to claim the 30th spot on the career list. Among true guards, Vaughn would currently rank ninth for her career (Sytia Messer tops the guards with 603 in her four years, which is 13th overall).

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 635 is only two points from moving past Tennille Adams on the list at 32nd. In striking distance for Vaughn are Marsha Lackey-Vining at 642 and Shaka Massey at 676. Massey is currently 30th all-time.

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 the WNIT second round with 319 assists, and Cheryl Orcholski next on the list at 323. On the steal list, Vaughn has 167 for her career, and is 20 away from catching 10th place Shea Henderson with 187.

APRIL MIGHT LEAVE HER MARK ON TREYS: Senior April Seggebruch had her Arkansas career extended by another game with the UNLV victory. She has 57 three-pointers made for her two-year career, and is only four shy of breaking into the career top 10. Treva Christensen scored 61 three-pointers in her four-years at Arkansas.

YOU ASKED ABOUT TICKETS: This from asuindians.com, the official ASU website:

"Tickets will go on sale on Saturday morning at the ASU Convocation Center box office at 10 a.m. The box office will remain open on Saturday until 5 p.m. and will re-open on Sunday afternoon between the hours of 1-5 p.m.

"Ticket prices are $9 for reserved seating located in the lower level. Upper level general admission seating is $7. Sections L, M, N, and P in the lower level are reserved for ASU students. Students with college identification cards and high school aged and under may buy tickets for $4. No complimentary tickets will be available for the game due to WNIT rules. Tickets will also be available online starting on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at http://tickets.astate.edu. Only upper level seating will be available online.

PLAYER NOTES, PAST GAMES MOVED TO POSTSEASON GUIDE: Specifics on each player, including up-to-date career numbers, are in our postseason guide package.

FUN WITH HISTORY: The last time Arkansas played ASU . . .

BILL CLINTON was the boy governor of the state, recently reelected to his second term after

a brief time out of office to Frank White

ADRIENNE BUSH was three days old; the rest of the team was not born

SUSIE GARDNER was a freshman at Georgia on her way to the first of three SEC

championships and the first of her two Final Fours as a player

AMBER SHIREY was Amber Nicholas was a seventh grader on the way to becoming a

state high school superstar at Newark High from 1985-88

HOMECOMINGS: For injured post player Ruby Vaden, this is a homecoming game for the Osceola High graduate. For a good part of Sarah Pfeifer’s family around Truman and Amber Shirey from Newark, this is also a trip back home. Not to mention the Harrison contingent that will roll across the lakes for Danielle Allen.

WE ARE ONE TEAM, ONE GOAL: Arkansas went into the 2004-05 season with a team concept that has paid tremendous dividends as the Lady’Backs faced injury after injury during the midseason.

EVERY PLAY, EVERY DAY: The Susie Gardner philosophy that puts a premium on excellence in the moment, which drives the team’s attitude toward this game more than anything else.

LOST IN TRANSLATION: Is Susie Gardner totally nonplexed by Monday’s game? No, on two fronts. First and foremost, in keeping with Every Play, Every Day, every game is simply the next game on the schedule. Until the injury bug hit hard in January, that philosophy drove Arkansas to a 10-1 start on the regular season. Second, as a native of Tennessee and a graduate of Georgia, the intense level of interest in the game is not part of her background. Would she have the same reaction to playing Alabama State? Yes. UALR? Yes. Texas? Yep. Tennessee? Right again. It’s all about the next opponent, and not looking past anyone.

COMMON FOES: The Lady’Backs and Lady Indians share several common opponents, most notably Mississippi State. Arkansas defeated MSU in both the regular seaosn and the conference tournament, while ASU sent MSU home from the WNIT on Thursday with a 78-61 thumping. ASU played Western Kentucky home and home in Sun Belt Conference action, splitting with the Lady Toppers. ASU lost at Bowling Green, 83-75, then defeated WKU in Jonesboro, 80-70. Arkansas rallied from a 15-point deficit to WKU at Walton Arena to win in December, 83-79. ASU also played two games with La-Lafayette, losing to the Ragin Cajuns in the regular season in Lafayette, 61-49, then losing to ULL in the SBC Tournament, 66-64. Arkansas defeated ULL at ALLTEL Arena, 82-68, also in December.

AGAINST THE SBC: Arkansas has a 2-0 mark this year against Sun Belt opponents, winning a pair of December games over Western Kentucky and La-Lafayette.

AGAINST THE SEC: ASU has a 1-0 record versus Southeastern Conference teams, defeating Miss State on Thursday in the first round of the WNIT.

TAKING CHARGE: Arkansas took eight charges as a team, a season high according to graduate assistant Alli Clark who charts the charges from the bench. More significant, Adrienne Bush took four of the eight — a season/career best for the senior.

YO, ADRIENNE: Adrienne Bush broke from the gate at a full sprint against the Lady Rebels of UNLV, Hitting her first three field goals, Bush had a career best for a half with 10 points by intermission. She finished one shy of her personal best 13 set earlier this year against Mississippi State. Along with 6-of-8 shooting, Bush had four charges, four rebounds, one steal and two forced turnovers in 27 minutes played. She scored the first six points of the game, including what proved to be the "game winner" as Arkansas took the lead for good off her third field goal, 6-4, with 15:57 on the first half clock.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: For the second time this season, Arkansas had points from every player in the game against UNLV. The other game was UMKC where everyone played and scored.

INTERESTING GAME TO SAY THE LEAST: Rochelle Vaughn had a season in a game as the junior guard has been up and down all year, in and out of the starting lineup. Versus UNLV, Vaughn came up with three steals for the game, but had five turnovers — all in the second half. She shot 3-of-12 from the field, and hit only one three pointer in four attempts, but that lone trey was crucial in stopping the UNLV comeback in the late second half.

REBELS MAKE TURNOVERS IN SECOND HALF: Call it reversal of fortune. In the first half, Arkansas had only four turnovers and forced 14 from UNLV for 15 points off turnovers. It appeared Arkansas may run the Lady Rebels out of Walton Arena, but UNLV made halftime adjustments to flip the turnover stats in the second half. Arkansas had 16 second-half turnovers, leading to 11 UNLV points. However, for the game, Arkansas came out ahead with 24 turnovers and 28 points off turnovers — a return to the Lady"Backs’ 2004 non-conference level of defense driving the offense numbers.

DEFENSE RETURNS FOR UNLV: Arkansas allowed a single field goal in the closing 5:43 of the game as the Lady’Backs ran the Lady Rebels 11-2. UNLV had a short jumper from Kameca Simmons with 5:43 left in the game to cut the lead to three, 48-45. It was just over five minutes later before Vegas could cash in with a layup from RanDee Henry with 39.6 left to play — the only field goal in those closing 5:43. A pair of free throws at 4:27 from Simmons started a period 3:51 of shutout defense heading to the end of the game. The start of the game wasn’t much better as UNLV had only one field goal in the opening 9:12, a three-pointer 57 seconds into the contest, and in that time a total of four points. From a free throw from Henry at 17:34 to take a 4-2 lead, Arkansas held UNLV without a point until Loftus’ layup with 10:48 — a whopping season-best 6:46 without points. It was a near-season best 8:15 without a field goal for the opponent, bested only by 8:44 by Idaho State.

CONFERENCE NUMBERS: Sarah Pfeifer ranks 16th in the SEC in scoring (11.9 ppg) as the teams head to the post season with Danielle Allen (9.4 ppg) breaking the top 30 at 30th. Allen ranks eighth in the SEC in field goal percentage (.475) and 17th in rebounding (5.5 rpg). Both starting guards rank in the SEC’s top 15 for assists with Kristin Peoples 12th with 3.1 apg and Rochelle Vaughn tied for 14th with 2.9 apg. The duo reverse positions on the steal list with Vaughn ranked seventh at 2.1 spg and Peoples at 15th with 1.8 spg. Vaughn also ranks 15th in three-pointers made per game with 1.32. Peoples is ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio. Pfeifer ranks 13th in the league in field goal percentage (.733)

WHY GO — WHERE YOUNG TEAMS GET EXPERIENCE: This season, Arkansas is the prototypical WNIT team. The Lady’Backs return every player that’s started in conference play and lose only one scholarship player. Arkansas‘ current roster has only four players with any post-season experience. True, two of those four players are out for the season — Kristin Moore and Ruby Vaden — but that allows the other two — Sarah Pfeifer and Danielle Allen — plus the rest of the squad the chance to gain valuable postseason game experience.

AND THOSE POSTSEASON NUMBERS: Recall that Sarah Pfeifer was coming off in-season arthroscopic shoulder surgery heading to the 2003 NCAA First and Second Round in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pfeifer played only 27 minutes in the games with UC and Texas, scoring 4.5 ppg wiht 3.0 rpg and 40% from the field. Rochelle Vaughn saw the most time of the four players with post season experience, but that was only 43 minutes for a 22.5 per game average. Vaughn has yet to hit a postseason three-pointer and has only four points scored in two games. Ruby Vaden has the best postseason numbers of the four with .750 from the field for 17 total points (8.5 ppg) and 14 rebounds (7.0 rpg), but played only 37 total minutes for 18.5 per game. Kristin Moore did not play in the Cincinnati game, and saw only three minutes playing time against Texas. Recall that hometown hero Cara Wright had been given the starting spot in both games.

WOMEN’S NIT RUNDOWN: The 32-team field is released on Sunday, with home sites for the opening rounds of play. The first two rounds of the WNIT tend to pair teams regionally. This is the eighth season for the Women’s NIT. Last year, Creighton won the tournament by defeating UNLV in the championship round.

SEC PLACES NINE IN THE POST SEASON: The glass is half full as the SEC placed a record number of four teams in the Women’s NIT — Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida and Miss State — but one of the lowest in the NCAA tournament with five — Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Vandy and Ole Miss. The previous WNIT high was three and the NCAA low was four (1992, 1985). No other league placed as many teams in the postseason with a total of nine. The ACC and Big 12 had eight, followed by the Big Ten and Big East with seven.

ARKANSAS IN OPENING POSTSEASON GAMES: The Lady’Backs added to their perfect mark in the postseason opening round game in a non-associational (NCAA, AIAW) tournament — a 5-0 record. The last time Arkansas lost its first game in the postseason, Amber Shirey was a freshman point guard Amber Nicholas as the Lady’Backs lost to Purdue in the first round of the 1989 NCAA. This gives the Lady’Backs a 10-game win streak for any postseason opener (7 NCAA, 2 WNIT, 2 NWIT). All-time in the first postseason game, Arkansas is 12-4 (7-2 NCAA, 1-2 AIAW, 2-0 WNIT, 2-0 NWIT).

GARDNER GETS FIRST POST WIN: Last time Susie Gardner was in the postseason, she was scaring highly-seeded North Carolina to death in the 2003 NCAA Tournament as the head coach at Austin Peay. Gardner got APSU to the NCAA three straight seasons, but lost her opening round games each time.

HEY, THAT SCHEDULE’S STARTING TO LOOK PRETTY GOOD: Notable among Arkansas‘ non-conference games (and wins) are Louisiana-Lafayette and UMKC, both surprise teams reaching their respective tournament finals. Oregon was the second seed at the Pac-10 tournament, but was upset in the semifinals by Arizona. Of course, Arkansas played four games against the SEC Tournament finalists, LSU and Tennessee. Indiana came within a point of advancing out of day one at the Big 10 against Wisconsin. Memphis reached day two at Conference USA.

PROGRAM IS TOURNAMENT TESTED: The Lady’Backs have two previous appearances in the Women’s NIT. Coming off the 1998 NCAA Final Four season, Arkansas accepted a WNIT bid to continue its season and ran the table for the title. Arkansas returned again in 2000, and reached the semifinals. All nine of the Lady’Backs’ WNIT games have been at Bud Walton Arena.

NOTHING TO FEAR BUT THE SEC ITSELF: In the WNIT, Arkansas is a perfect 8-0 against non-conference foes, picking up its only loss to Florida in the 2000 semifinals. If you add in the previous NWIT where the Lady’Backs are 4-2 overall and 4-1 against non-conference teams, the Lady’Backs are a combined 12-3 overall and 12-1 with non-conference teams in the non-association postseason games.

COUNT IT OVER WHEN: Arkansas leads at halftime (11-0), scores over 80 points (6-0), holds the opponent under 35% from the field (7-0).

THAT 70s TEAM: When Arkansas scores more than 70 points, the Lady’Backs are 14-2. Less than 70, only 2-10.

NOW THE TWO: After leading the nation most of the year, Arkansas is now second in the country in steals per game after the Feb. 14 rankings. Heading into March, Arkansas still stands at second in the nation. North Carolina broke Arkansas‘ run of seven straight reporting weeks at No. 1, edging past the Lady’Backs with 14.5 steals to 14.4 for Arkansas, for the Jan. 31 report (the eighth of the year).

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Phill Vardiman is knocking on every piece of wood he can find as the Lady’Backs head to the postseason with all available players reasonably healthy for the first time in three weeks.

NOTES ON PREVIOUS ARKANSAS GAMES

ARKANSAS‘ RPI HITS TOP 30: After defeating Oregon, the Lady Razorbacks moved to 27th in the WBCA/Summerville RPI in late December. At the time, the Lady’Backs was 1-1 against the RPI top 25 — win over Indiana, loss to Purdue — then 1-0 against top 50 teams (Oregon at #32).

GAME WINNERS: Arkansas has a four-game winning streak when it comes to last-minute contests. After failing to make the crucial score in the closing minute against Purdue, and in turn losing 55-51, Arkansas has used clutch plays to defeat Memphis, Western Kentucky, Indiana and Oregon. Emblematic of Arkansas‘ team concept, each of the four games had a different Lady’Back providing the defining moment. With Oregon, it was Sheree Thompson’s block of Gabrielle Richards’ three-point attempt with one second left. At Memphis, Sarah Pfeifer came off the bench for a run-stopping jump shot in the closing minutes. With Western Kentucky, Rochelle Vaughn’s 10-foot jumper in the lane sealed the game in the last seconds. Versus Indiana, Kristin Peoples stepped to the free throw line to sink the icing points.

TIES BEST 10-GAME START: With the win over Oregon, Arkansas ties the school mark for best 10-game start at 9-1. The Lady’Backs have reached 9-1 three other times in the program’s 28 year history, with the most recent coming in 2002-03. In 1994-95 Arkansas went to 10-1 and 1996-97 saw the best "and one" start going 13-1 before losing at Illinois.

ARKANSAS’ BRIEF RETURN TO ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL: For the first time since Week Five (12/15/03) of last year’s poll, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are among the also receiving votes for the Associated Press Top 25 on Dec. 27 (week 7). The Lady’Backs were in the preseason and first four weeks of last season’s poll after spending a complete year ranked in 2003-04. Arkansas jumps in with 15 votes after defeating the Oregon Ducks, who drop from near the top 25 to only six votes this week. The 15 votes puts Arkansas in the middle of the "alsos." Arkansas received no votes from the coaches. After losing at Georgia, the Lady’Backs dropped from the poll in week 8.

THE CRUELEST CUT: Arkansas and Florida get the worst of the two-year cycle of rotating partners. Both teams have the low seed score of the conference divisions, but for the two-year rotation the Lady’Backs receive an average score of 8.5. The Gators are next with 10 for average. For 2005 only, Arkansas gets eight from LSU (1), UT (2) and UM (5), while Florida goes one lower with LSU (1), VU (3) and UG (4). The rest of the league has some balance. Auburn is next with 13 then Vanderbilt with 17. The rest are 20 and over: USC, 21; UM, 21; UK, 22; UG, 23; MSU, 24; Bama, 25; LSU, 26; UT, 26.

COULD BE AN UNFORTUNATE FIRST: Excluding preseason injuries like Sheree Thompson’s opening day ACL last season, Arkansas could face a first certainly in recent history, if not the first time in the 29-year-history of the program, should Ruby Vaden’s knee injury prove season ending. Arkansas lost Kristin Moore on Jan. 2 to a torn ACL, and if Vaden is out for the year it could be the first time for two starters to go down during the season.

THE SUPER D BECOMES SURVIVOR: With the loss of Kristin Moore at Cincinnati with an ACL, the Lady’Backs’ ability to pressure became limited. Moore was a critical part of the press with her mobility as a five player on the back end, and a considerable amount of the transition offense flowed through her hands. Five games later when Arkansas lost its second post player to ACL — junior backup Ruby Vaden — the Super D became more a game of survivor. The press and full-court work is limited with only three post players — former sixth-player Sarah Pfeifer, starting four player Danielle Allen and Kristina Andjelkovic — and a converted guard — 6-0 Melissa Hobbs — as the entire post rotation.

I AM SHAMEKA CHRISTON: When the season started, everyone wanted to know what Arkansas would do to replace the SEC Player of the Year’s 20-plus points per game. The answer was a team approach in which different players have taken their turn as the go-to scorer. It started with Danielle Allen hitting 20 to open the season. Midway, guards Kristin Peoples and Sheree Thompson each had their time as the big gun. Heading into the SEC homestretch, Allen (22 at Ole Miss) and Sarah Pfeifer (21 with Bama, 24 against Georgia Tech) have literally filled the 20-point gap. At the SECs, Pfeifer stepped up again with 23 points against MSU, then Rochelle Vaughn took her turn with 20 against Vandy.

THE SHOT DOCTOR: OK, it started as a joke during the Alabama postgame press conference as one of the Lady Razorback beat reporters asked if Susie Gardner thought she was the latest shooting guru after devoting three days just to the finer points of shooting after a SEC-game school-record low at Auburn. When Gardner stopped laughing, she opined that it was a good thing that the extra time shooting worked. Her players have been a little less shy about the impact of Gardner‘s intense shooting camp. Sarah Pfeifer said after her second game of shooting over 50% from the field that it all goes back to the time spend working on new shots and honing old skills.

THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Remember, in the 14-year membership in the SEC, Arkansas‘ traditional finish is, unfortunately, ninth. Also, the Lady’Backs have never won more than seven conference games in a season.

THE ROAD NEVER TRAVELED: Arkansas is the only SEC team with the privilege of playing home-and-home with both of the league’s 2004 Final Four teams — LSU (the permanent travel partner) and Tennessee (our Eastern Division rotating partner for this two-year cycle).

ARKANSAS‘ ESPN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA NOMINEES: For the first time in school history, the Lady Razorback basketball team has the University maximum three nominees. Redshirt sophomore Sarah Pfeifer, sophomore Kristin Peoples and junior Rochelle Vaughn are the nominees. The requirements for the ESPN Academic All-America team are a 3.20 cumulative GPA, second-year standing at the institution and starter or significant sub. Peoples, Pfeifer and Vaughn more than meet the criteria. All three are starters for the Lady’Backs, with industrial engineering major Pfeifer just edging biology major Peoples. 3.95 to 3.94. And yes, that means they each have exactly one "B" in their Arkansas careers. Vaughn turns in a 3.46 in communications, but is on an accelerated track with 109 of her 124 hours completed by the end of her junior year. By the way, Peoples and Pfeifer aren’t the average sophomores. In just three full semesters at Arkansas, Peoples has 83 hours in the degree bank (67% completion) while Pfeifer has 86 hours in her five semesters (70% completion). While three players is the school max, Arkansas had a fourth player with qualifying numbers — senior back-up guard April Seggebruch’s 3.77 in business marketing. Only one other time in school history has Arkansas nominated more than one player for Academic All-America in basketball — Amber Nicholas Shirey and Sally Moore were both nominees in the 1990-91. Shirey was first-team all-district, and went on to all-America honors while Moore as second team all-district. The ESPN Academic All-America team — formerly known as the GTE (then Verizon)/CoSIDA Academic All-America team — is the longest running, most prestigious and only Academic All-America team (CoSIDA holds that copyright).

MISCELLANEOUS TEAM NOTES

THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Fayetteville, Ark., ranks as the 14th toughest road trip in Division I women’s basketball according to Louisiana Tech’s annual survey of home court winning percentage. Arkansas has a 79.94% winning mark in Fayetteville, and is the third toughest home court in the Southeastern Conference. Ruston, La., is No. 1 at 94.51%, followed by Knoxville, Tenn., at 91.37%. Oxford, Miss., is ranked 11th, and second in the SEC. Notable tough towns behind Fayetteville: Athens, Ga. (22nd), Springfield, Mo. (28th),

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE — STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE TOP 20: Arkansas‘ schedule gets the #19 spot on the preseason RPI strength of schedule issued by Rich Summerville and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Summerville’s RPI — considered for years one of the most accurate predictors of the NCAA committee’s own rating percentage index — has Arkansas at 19th thanks in part to the Lady’Backs facing the No. 1 RPI Tennessee Lady Vols and the #7 RPI LSU Tigers twice this season. In fact, half of the SEC is in the top 25: 1) UT, 5) Florida, 7) LSU, 9) Auburn, 18) Miss State, 19) Arkansas, 25) Alabama. Rounding out the league: 31) Vanderbilt, 37) Georgia, 39) Ole Miss, 48) South Carolina, 54) Kentucky.

PRESEASON SEC POLL HAS ARKANSAS TIED FOR NINTH: The Lady Razorbacks were voted ninth in the preseason media poll conducted at the annual SEC Media Days. There were 11 media voters that gave both Arkansas and Alabama 101 points each in the balloting. Tennessee was the near-consensus pick at No. 1 with nine first place votes and 13 overall. LSU had the other two first place votes and 23. Vanderbilt was third, Georgia fourth, Auburn fifth and Florida sixth. Ole Miss and Miss State tied for seventh at 80 each. Kentucky and South Carolina rounded out the poll.

IT’S ON LADYBACKS.COM: Video highlights from each pre-game press conference, after each game at Walton Arena and clips from the coaches’ luncheons can be viewed daily at LADYBACKS.COM. The premium video content is free during this first season of the new and improved LADYBACKS.COM for our ALL-ACCESS subscribers. We encourage media to sign up for the ALL-ACCESS package and to utilize the posted clips and quotes.

PHOTO PLATFORM ACCESS VIA LADYBACKS.COM: Media needing high resolution images — action and mug shots — of Lady Razorback athletes can download them via LADYBACKS.COM. Please contact Bill Smith or any member of the Women’s Communication Office for instructions on how to access the high resolution (1.5 – 2.0 mb) versions of all website images.

LADY RAZORBACK TV: The Women’s Athletics Department begins its second season with a department-wide television magazine hosted by the Lady Razorback head coaches. The show airs across the state at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Lady Razorback TV airs in northwest Arkansas on KPBI, Fox 46-15, and in Little Rock on KWPF, the WB television affiliate. The show re-airs on Sunday mornings in northwest Arkansas on KFDF, UPN, at 11:00 a.m and in central Arkansas on KYPX, the Pax television affiliate, a 11:30 p.m. Lady Razorback TV is brought to you by Adidas, Tyson, CRI and the Lady Razorback Foundation.

TURN YOUR RADIO ON: Welcome back to the Lady Razorback Radio Network for the 16th consecutive season. All Arkansas women’s basketball games are broadcast home and road over the statewide LRRN, as well as on the internet via LADYBACKS.COM. Making his debut this season as the play-by-play voice of the Lady Razorbacks is Preston Lewis. Returning for his 16th year of color for the Lady’Backs is Bill Smith.

KBNV 90.1 FM Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers/Bentonville

KXUA 88.3 FM UA student radio/Fayetteville

KABZ 103.7 FM Little Rock/Central Arkansas

KHOZ 900 AM Harrison

Check your local affiliate for updates on start times or occasional tape delays for local programing.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)