FAYETTEVILLE – Tom Collen has led the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team to a perfect 7-0 start to the 2010-11 season.
Collen and the Razorbacks put that record to the test with a pair of road games this week, traveling to Texas-Arlington Wednesday and Utah Saturday as the season continues.
The Razorbacks (7-0) are in the midst of the longest road swing of the season. The four-game stretch saw Arkansas defeat High Point and escape at UTEP winning the Thanksgiving Tournament title.
"We are excited about our start," Collen said. "As a coach you want to put your team in position to win every single game and I’m proud of the fact that this team has stepped up and gotten off to the start they have. They are still a team who is trying to find themselves. We don’t feel that because we’re 7-0 we are setting the world on fire or that we’re ready to conquer the SEC yet but we feel like we’re getting better as a team. We’re gaining confidence as we go and I feel good about the fact that we haven’t played great basketball yet and we’re 7-0."
Arkansas opens the week at UTA (2-4) Wednesday at 7 p.m. They have wins at UMKC and most recently against Southeast Missouri and they have losses at Oral Roberts, at Houston, at Oklahoma State and against Arkansas State. The Mavericks are paced by Tamara Simmons, a 5-7 senior guard, who is averaging 19.2 ppg and 3.5 rpg this year. Shalyn Martin is also in double-figures with 10.2 ppg.
Arkansas’ season has been a tale of two halves. The year opened with dominating guard play with juniors Lyndsay Harris and C’eira Ricketts torching opponents for double-digit scores in most of the contests.
In recent games, Arkansas has relied more on its post players. Sarah Watkins and Ashley Daniels have come to life as has forward Keira Peak. The combination has made Arkansas a more balanced team.
"Sarah has shot about 60 percent from the field in the last three or four games," Collen said. "Ashley is a hard worker and tough rebounder. Keira is coming off the bench and giving us a spark. I can’t remember the last time we had five players average double figures so that balance is there."
The Razorbacks remain on the road, practicing in Arlington Thursday before leaving for Utah for Saturday’s game.
Utah (3-3) opened the year with wins at SMU and at Weber State before a nine-point loss to No. 2 Stanford at home. Utah followed up with a loss against Penn State before defeating Hartford by six. In their most recent game, Utah fell to No. 23 UW-Green Bay, 40-60. Utah is paced by Janita Badon with 12.5 ppg. Taryn Wicijowski also averages double-digits at 10.7 ppg. She leads the team with 9.0 rpg this year.
Arkansas returns home hosting Oral Roberts Dec. 16, in the first of three consecutive home games in Bud Walton.