FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Wednesday evening’s women’s basketball exhibition game for the Arkansas Razorbacks presents more than the usual first game experience for head coach Tom Collen.
Arkansas hosts nearby Rogers State for the only exhibition game of the preseason for the Razorbacks at 7 p.m. at Walton Arena. The game is live in the northwest Arkansas area on the women’s affiliates of the Razorback Sports Network; tape-delayed in the central Arkansas area.
The game will stream live audio and video through RazorVision at ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Pregame begins at 6:45 p.m.
The Razorbacks go five-on-five in a full-game situation for the first time this season after injuries limited the Red-White Game to a four-on-four event. Collen has six newcomers that step on the floor at the Division I level for the first time Wednesday.
“This game is important because we need to play against another team under game conditions,” Collen said. “The Red-White Game was good because there was a nice size crowd. Our closed scrimmage gave us a five-on-five event against outside competition, but we still were right there with them as coaches. Now we have to put it all together in a game situation.”
Several newcomers were standouts in the Red-White game, but Collen favors starting experience for the exhibition game – at least earlier in the week.
“We’re still working out who are the starters, and I haven’t had a chance to fully digest the video from the scrimmage,” Collen said.
Arkansas seems certain to send returning senior starter Ayana Brereton and sophomore Shanita Arnold at point guard. Collen would like to start fellow returning senior starter Whitney Jones at the low post, but Jones has missed almost the entire preseason with a high ankle sprain suffered on the opening day of drills.
“Whitney is still a question, and a decision we’ll make Wednesday,” Collen said. “She’s basically missed all the five-on-five live practice the last two weeks. I want to get her some time, but I also don’t want to over-use her as she comes back from her ankle.”
If Jones does not start, Arkansas likely puts returning sophomore Ashlea Williams into the line-up. Jones, Williams and Ashley Daniels all missed the Red-White Game; Daniels with a knee sprain and Williams for her brother’s wedding.
Out for Wednesday is returning starting junior guard Charity Ford. In her place, Collen expects to start freshman Lyndsay Harris. Harris had 12 points in the Red-White Game, and along with fellow freshman Julie Inman, who scored 17 points including the winning final five points, led the Red to victory in the four-on-four event.
“The hard thing about the Red-White game was we could not work on the offense because we lacked post players,” Collen said. “Our guards got lots of reps and several of our younger guards looked great.”
Arnold led the White squad with 14 points in the intrasquad, and holds the nod for the Rogers State game over Inman.
“We’ve got a lot of competition for positions right now, and that’s a good thing as we are all pushing each other for playing time,” Collen said.
Sophomore Brittney Richardson looks to make her debut at the four-spot high post on Wednesday night.
Collen is quick to point out with a roster of 11 available for Wednesday, and 12 for the season, that he plans to put everyone on the floor.
“Typically, I’ve been a coach that sets a line up and stays with it, but this year I may need to be more flexible about that,” he said. “Regardless, everyone is going to get a lot of playing time because the way we are going to play we will need to substitute a lot.”
Rogers State arrives in Fayetteville at 1-0 on the regular season for the NAIA member, holding off Bacone College on Tuesday night, 67-66, on the road.
The Razorbacks open the regular season on Nov. 15 against Louisiana-Monroe at Walton Arena.
Season tickets for the 2008-09 men’s and women’s basketball seasons are now on sale. Contact the Razorback Ticket Center at 800-982-HOGS or purchase on-line at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.