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Sixteen home games for Tom Collen

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Sixteen home games for Tom Collen

FAYETTEVILLE — Sixteen regular season home games and 16 contests against members of last year’s postseason tournaments highlight the 2011-12 University of Arkansas women’s basketball schedule head coach Tom Collen announced today. Included in Arkansas’ non-conference schedule are three NCAA Tournament teams and one WNIT team from a year ago. The always-tough Southeastern Conference slate features four NCAA Tournament and three WNIT teams including a home-and-away series with national powerhouse Tennessee. “The first thing fans will notice about our schedule is that it is front loaded with a lot of good basketball teams, especially the opening tournament in Daytona,” Collen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever opened a season with three consecutive games back-to-back-to-back with BCS conference opponents. It will be a monumental early test for our team, regardless of the outcome.” The Razorbacks open the season with an exhibition contest with Newman College Nov. 2, but officially tip-off the season at the WBI Tip-Off Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. Arkansas faces Minnesota, Florida State and South Florida in three straight days of basketball. Arkansas faces Minnesota, a double-digit winner who returns 10 players from last year, Nov. 11 in the opener. The Razorbacks take on South Florida who went 24-8 last year and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 1 p.m. Nov. 12. Tournament play wraps up with Florida State, a team with 15 wins and a postseason appearance in the WNIT last year. “Shortly after the tournament and in a two-week period we play two NCAA Tournament teams in the University of Utah at home and Middle Tennessee on the road,” Collen said. “We beat both of those teams last year so I’m certain they will be ready for revenge.” Arkansas welcomes back elementary day hosting Texas -Arlington at 11 a.m. Nov. 16, followed by the games with Utah, Nov. 20, Grambling Nov. 25 and at Middle Tennessee State, Dec. 3. The Razorbacks scratched out a narrow road win over UTA last year, and got a 10-point road win over the Utes who went on to the NCAA Tournament. Grambling State is a new opponent for Collen at Arkansas. The Razorbacks last meeting with the Tigers came in 2005. The Blue Raiders were 23-8 last year advancing to the NCAA Tournament. December is busy with six games, five at home for Arkansas. The Razorbacks follow up the road game at MTSU with home contests with Stephen F. Austin, Oral Roberts, Morgan State, Texas Southern and Mississippi Valley State before beginning SEC play after the first of the year. The SEC’s reputation as one of the best conferences for women’s basketball was reinforced last year with four teams earning NCAA Tournament bids and five others accepting WNIT invitations. This year, the 16-game schedule matches Arkansas with Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU for home-and-away games and the Razorbacks meet the other six teams for single contests. Arkansas opens league play with a pair of road games at Georgia and Kentucky, Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, respectively. Andy Landers and the Bulldogs played into the third round of the NCAA Tournament and return a solid corps of starters from a year ago. The Razorbacks face Kentucky, a team they split with last year, for the only meeting in Lexington, Ky. The Wildcats reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. The Razorbacks come home for the first of two games against perennial powerhouse Tennessee Jan. 8 before traveling to Oxford, Miss., for a single meeting with the Lady Rebels. The Lady Vols reached the NCAA Regionals last year and Arkansas picked up the program’s first-ever road win at Ole Miss last season. Arkansas next gets two in a row at home hosting Auburn Jan. 15, and Vanderbilt Jan. 19. Vanderbilt is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance while the Tigers played multiple rounds in the WNIT last season. The Razorbacks follow up with consecutive road games playing at LSU and at Mississippi State. The schedule brings Arkansas back to the friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena for home contests with Florida, Alabama and South Carolina as January closes and February begins. Arkansas sandwiches in a road trip to Auburn Feb. 12, and comes home for the second meeting with LSU and Mississippi State in mid-February. The SEC regular season closes with trips to Tennessee, Feb. 23, and South Carolina, Feb. 26. Carolina advanced to the second round of the WNIT last year. “The SEC schedule is always a challenge,” Collen said. “We have two opportunities against three teams who were in the postseason last year and the balanced schedule should be good for us." “We were a pretty good team last year and so close to being a great team — one made free throw, one less turnover,” Collen said. “Our challenge this year is to match that and then surpass that success and take the next step for our program. Our non-conference schedule will prepare us for the SEC and then we will see what happens.”



Sports Category : Basketball (W)