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.
EXPERIMENTAL RULES FOR EXHIBITION GAMES: The two principal experiments involve what would be fundamental changes in the women’s collegiate game. While women’s hoops has always had a shot clock, it has — for the same reason – never had a 10-second backcourt. The other experiment involves backing up the three-point line from the long-established 19-9 to 20-6.
ABOUT THE LIONS: Head coach Maryann Mitts returns three starters from a team that went 17-11 last season. The Lions were 9-9 in the MIAA to finish sixth in league play. A pair of seniors top the returnees for MSSU. A 6-0 forward Dacie Reutlinger (8.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is the top returning scorer and rebounder. The other senior is 5-5 guard Nicole Greninger (6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg). The Division II school has a history with Arkansas, playing the Lady’Backs twice during the AIAW era.
SECOND GAME FOR BOTH TEAMS: Arkansas and Missouri Southern each faced exhibition opponents last weekend. While the Lady’Backs hosted Cameron, MSSU was on the road at Missouri to take on the Tigers.
MAKING A CHANGE: Susie Gardner will swap senior Kristina Andjelkovic for freshman Whitney Jones for the Lady’Backs’ second exhibition game. Andjelkovic came in against Cameron to score what would have been a career high nine points off 4-of-6 from the field. Jones showed flashes of brilliance against the Lady Aggies, but struggled from the field. Both will see considerable playing time.
EVERYONE SCORES, EVERYONE FOULS: With only nine players dressed against Cameron and a new scrambling defense, everyone got into the scorebook last Sunday. In fact, every player on the team had at least two fouls, with one player exiting early (Dominique Washington). In fact, only Melissa Hobbs had a mere two fouls. On the plus side, every player scored in the game as each player saw at least 10 minutes of playing time. Everyone had over five points (Whitney Jones, Hobbs at five).
JONES SPRAINS ANKLE: Whitney Jones suffered a mild sprain in Monday’s practice, but it is not expected to limit her significantly on Friday.
WORKING HALFCOURT FRIDAY: Susie Gardner announced at her press conference that she intended to put emphasis on her halfcourt defense against Missouri Southern after getting almost an entire game’s worth of fullcourt pressure work with Cameron.
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.
COULD HAVE BEENS: If it was a regular season game, Kristina Andjelkovic would have registered a new career high with her nine points versus Cameron. The Serbian junior college transfer had a pair of eights last year. Also, Brittney Vaughn’s six steals would have doubled her freshman best of three and her 10 rebounds would crush her previous of six. Melissa Hobbs also would have a new high with nine rebounds, edging her junior year eight.
LAST GAME FOR MSSU: Missouri handed the MSSU Lions an 89-56 defeat in Columbia on Saturday afternoon. Holding the Lions to only 29 percent from the field, Missouri controlled the game off a pair of decisive runs. After a 12-6 run by MSSU cut the lead down to six at 22-16, Missouri held the Lions without a field goal for the final 11:38 of the first half to take a 39-20 lead into intermission. Danielle DeVader came off the bench to lead MSSU with 12 points as none of the Lion starters made double-digits. The fateful first half saw MSSU shoot a mere 17.1% from the field.
TREYS WAY AWAY: Any questions about the impact of the experimental distance of 20-6 should be answered for Arkansas and Cameron. The two teams combined for only two made three-pointers off 19 attempts.
STILL WAITING FOR A 10 COUNT: As for the other women’s rule experiment, there wasn’t a single 10-second backcourt violation in the Cameron game.
CAMERON MADE HISTORY: The Lady Aggies became the first collegiate team to play Arkansas as an exhibition opponent in the 30-year history of the program.
FOR EXHIBITION GAMES: Arkansas is 21-11 all-time. The vast majority of Arkansas’ exhibition games have been against foreign clubs, but against teams based in the US — Athletes in Action, Everyone’s Internet, as examples — Arkansas is 7-6 all-time.
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 rp, 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 will begin “prehab” for surgery to be schedule during late November or early December. 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.
RED-WHITE GOOD NEWS: Whitney Jones combined for 21 points to lead all scorers in the intrasquad game last week. Melissa Hobbs pulled down 10 rebounds with eight points for a near double-double. Sheree Thompson did get the double, getting 10 boards and 10 points along with six assists for the White team. Rochelle Vaughn had 11 points for the Red squad while Dominique Washington combined 12 points for both teams.
FOUR OUT, ONE IN: Get use to that phrase as Arkansas begins to work with a four-guard offense accentuate the positives of a deep and talented perimeter corps.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Last year, Danielle Allen was the break-out player in the Red-White. This year, it was another post player Whitney Jones. Allen lit up the 2004 Red-White for 23 points and 12 rebounds which proved to be the sign of things to come for the sophomore.
NOT EXACTLY THE SHOOTING STARS: Rochelle Vaughn’s 3-of-15 from the field wasn’t positive, and she wasn’t along struggling from the floor. Sheree Thompson gained a double-double, but shot only 4-of-14. Leslie Howard was one of the top rebounders — one of three Lady’Backs with 10 boards in the Red-White — but the transfer guard only had 2-of-12 from the field, and a mere 1-of-9 from behind the arc.
PFEIFER NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SEC: Returning leading scorer Sarah Pfeifer was voted preseason all-SEC second team by the league’s coaches in balloting prior to conference media day in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. Pfeifer was voted by the league coaches as the 2005 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year last 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.
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.
HEAD OUT ON THE ROAD WITH ARKANSAS: The first of three proposed fan bus trips with the team is an overnight trip leaving Nov. 18 to SMU. A day trip to Hot Springs for the Dec. 15 game with Nicholls State is the second with an extended stay in North Little Rock for the SEC Tournament is the third trip. For more information on reserving seats on the fan trips and pricing, please contact Chris Pohl at 575-7312 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUNCH WITH SUSIE: Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner’s luncheons begin on Monday, Oct. 31. 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.