Nov. 20, 2003
FORT WORTH, Texas
Game Notes in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
ABOUT THE CONTEST
TCU opens its 2003-04 campaign Friday night, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. against in-state rival Texas State from San Marcos. The Bobcats dropped their first exhibition of the season against Everyone's Internet by a 66-61 count Nov. 7 before rebounding with a victory over Texas Lutheran Nov. 13, 68-40. Friday's game only marks the seventh meeting between the two schools. TCU holds a 4-2 edge over Texas State. The last meeting occurred Nov. 24, 1998, and ended in an 86-75 triumph for the Lady Frogs at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. TCU is undefeated (4-0) at DMC versus the Bobcats, while Texas State won both of its match-ups with TCU in San Marcos in 1985 and 1994. The Bobcats are coming off an 18-14 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance. They are the preseason favorites to win the Southland Conference title again this season in both the coaches and SID preseason polls. Texas State returns 10 letterwinners from a year ago and four starters, including junior center Tori Talbert, who averaged a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
TCU'S LAST TIME OUT
TCU posted a 74-59 victory over Everyones Internet Nov. 17 in its final tune-up for the season. Clinging to the advantage, TCU took its first double digit lead of the game at the 8:40 mark of the second half when Stephanie Faulkner nailed the first of her two free throws to set the score at 56-46. The closest EVI could pull within was nine after that point. With just under a minute to play, Tiffany Evans tallied a layup to give the Lady Frogs their largest lead, 74-56. EVI's Tiffany Andrews connected on a three in the final 30 seconds to set the final score at 74-59. The Lady Frogs committed 29 turnovers on the night compared to EVI's 19. The difference in the game, however, was rebounding and field goal percentage, where TCU owned a 54-31 edge on the boards and out-shot the opposition 45.6 to 31.3 percent. Tracy Wynn led TCU in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. She also hauled down six rebounds in 25 minutes on the floor. Ashley Davis snared a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. She also hit three of her five attempts from downtown.
KICKING THINGS OFF
Since historical records were first kept for the Lady Frogs beginning with the 1977-78 season, TCU has fashioned a 13-13 record in season openers and a 16-10 mark in its first home game. The Purple and White has captured five consecutive wins in its initial contest of the year and posted seven straight victories in its first Daniel-Meyer Coliseum game of a campaign. Head Coach Jeff Mittie is 7-4 in season lid-lifters and almost perfect in home openers at 10-1 for his career.
THE CORE IS BACK
Only three players, Tricia Payne, Candace Baldwin and Grace Gantt are missing from last year's NCAA Tournament squad. TCU has the pleasure of welcoming back its top three scorers from a year ago, starting with All-C-USA performer Sandora Irvin, who also picked up the league's Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Irvin averaged nearly a double-double last season and finished second in the nation in blocked shots per game. Tiffany Evans is also back for her fourth and final season in a purple-clad uniform. Evans finished as the team's third-leading scorer with 9.4 per game and was second in rebounding with 6.6 per outing. She also played more minutes than any other Lady Frog. Ebony Shaw will also be a threat to opposing defenses, as she finished last season averaging a hair under 10 points per game. The local 5-foot-10 product was also scrappy on the boards last season, finishing third on the team with a 3.6 average per contest.
WHERE HAVE I HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE?
Fans may not be completely familiar with the name Texas State yet, unless they remember the movie "Necessary Roughness," which starred Scott Bakula of "Quantum Leap" fame as 30-plus year-old quarterback Paul Blake and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kathy Ireland as kicker Lucy Draper. Texas State was formerly known as Southwest Texas State. The school officially changed its name Sept. 1 this year.
BACK 4 MORE!
The TCU Lady Frogs and the community of Fort Worth have become accustomed to certain things since Jeff Mittie assumed the head coaching duties for the 1999-00 season. After fashioning a 16-14 record in his initial season, the Purple and White has gone on to reach the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years. Last season was perhaps the Lady Frogs' most impressive run, as they sat a mere 10-12 in mid-February and appeared to be out of the running for the tourney. All they did was go on to win 10 of their next 12 match-ups, including the C-USA Tournament. It was the third consecutive year that TCU won a regular-season and/or tournament league crown. In 2003-04, the Lady Frogs will be looking to add a fourth piece of conference hardware to their mantle and crash the NCAA party once again.
IT'S NOT ABOUT JUST GETTING THERE
Sometimes teams are complacent with just making the NCAA Tournament and then willing to bow out to a higher seeded squad in the first round. Apparently, the TCU Lady Frogs have never received that memo in their three NCAA appearances because they have advanced to the second round each time. In their first showing in 2001, the No. 11-seeded Lady Frogs faced heavily favored Penn State, a Final Four team the year before. TCU went on to dispatch of the Lady Lions, 77-75, recording the biggest first-round upset of the tourney that year. The Purple and White took the No. 8 seed into 2002's Big Dance and were pitted against Indiana, who fell, 55-45. Last season, the Lady Frogs grabbed the ninth seed and faced yet another Big Ten squad, Michigan State, in the opening round. It was not pretty, but TCU pulled out a 50-47 victory. Although the Lady Frogs fell to eventual national champion UConn in the next round, they did give the Huskies more than they expected, exiting the tournament on an 81-66 disparity.
It is easy to get caught up in the mystique and luster that some teams possess, especially when they are named the Tennessee Lady Vols and the Connecticut Huskies. Combined, UT and UConn have won 10 of 22 NCAA Tournaments, which first began for women's basketball in 1982. Last season, TCU experienced contests with both squads and proved it could contend with the best. What made the performances even more impressive was the fact that they both came on the road in the powerhouses' backyards. The Lady Frogs and Lady Vols met Feb. 11 in Rocky Top and only trailed by a single point at halftime, 41-40. With six minutes remaining in the game, the Big Orange was clinging to only a four-point advantage, 74-70. Despite the 86-72 loss, TCU made a believer out of legendary coach Pat Summitt, who commented after the game that there was no reason the Lady Frogs should not be ranked in the top-25 if they played like that every night. Taking on the Huskies in the second round of the NCAA Tournament March 25 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., TCU actually snuck into the locker room at the half with a 35-33 lead. It marked only the sixth time the past five seasons that UConn trailed at halftime of a home game. With the confidence TCU has gained from games such as those, there seems to be no limit to what it is capable of doing in the years to come. On Jan. 2, 2004, TCU will welcome the Lady Vols back to Fort Worth for another crack at one of basketball's elites.
WE CAN WIN THE BIG ONES, TOO
Some may not be impressed by the fact that the Lady Frogs have been able to hang with teams such as Tennessee and UConn, feeling that winning is the bottom line. If that is the case, consider last season's Dec. 28 match-up with Vanderbilt in Cow Town. TCU stood just 4-5 heading into the game, while the eighth-rated Commodores held a 7-1 mark. When the contest was over, it was a 17-point margin of victory, only Vandy came out on the short end of the 70-53 score. The Lady Frogs' defense contained one of the best post players in the nation, Chantelle Anderson, to 19 points and 10 rebounds and also held quick-footed point guard Ashley McElhiney to nine points and four assists. It was TCU's first victory over a top-10 team and sure not to be its last.
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE
One of the most noticeable differences in Lady Frog basketball since the beginning of the Jeff Mittie era has been the upgrade in scheduling. The 2003-04 season will be no different, as TCU will take on at least 10 teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament last season (Texas State, BYU, Arkansas, UW-Green Bay, Rutgers, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Tulane, Charlotte and DePaul). There could be an 11th should the Purple and White match up with Pepperdine in the Pepperdine Holiday Classic Dec. 21. Should that happen, more than 40 percent of TCU's regular-season opponents would consist of 2003 NCAA Tourney squads. Four of those teams (Tennessee, Rutgers, UW-Green Bay and Arkansas) won at least one game in the tournament as well, with UT topping the bunch by reaching the title game.
THE 20-WIN SQUADS
The Lady Frogs will also be taking on a minimum of seven teams in 2003-04 that recorded at least 20 wins the season before. Tennessee had the most wins with a 33-5 mark, followed by UW-Green Bay at 28-4. Others include Cincinnati (23-8), DePaul (22-10), Arkansas (22-11), Charlotte (21-9) and Rutgers (21-8). Rutgers is one of the more notable teams on the list, as the Scarlet Knights were the NCAA's most improved team last season having gone a mere 9-20 in 2001-02. Pepperdine could make it eight teams for the Purple and White if the two meet in Malibu, Calif., Dec. 21. The Waves penciled in a 22-8 showing for their ledger last year.
A RANKED SMELL IN THE AIR
The Lady Frogs will run into three teams this season that finished the year ranked in the top-25. Tennessee received a final billing of No. 2, followed by UW-Green Bay at 24th and Arkansas at No. 25. Four other teams were also receiving votes, including TCU with 15 to place 37th. Rutgers' tally put it at 27th, while Tulane, DePaul and Cincinnati finished at Nos. 41, 42 and 44. In addition to the three that finished as top-25 teams, BYU, Cincinnati, DePaul and Rutgers were all ranked at some point during the 2002-03 campaign.
MORE BLOCK PARTIES TO COME
There is no reason that the Lady Frogs should not finish this season among the nation's best when it comes to blocking shots. TCU was No. 2 in rejections last season with an average of 6.6 per outing and the year before it ended up at No. 1 with a 6.5 mark. Much of the credit goes to junior forward Sandora Irvin, who was second in the nation individually in blocks with 3.9 per game last year. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native established a new single-season TCU record with 128, smashing the old standard of 85 she set during her rookie campaign. With 213 for her career, Irvin is the only person in school history, female or male, to eclipse the 200-block plateau. This discussion would not be complete, though, without mentioning senior forward Tiffany Evans, who stands second on the Lady Frogs' career block list with 138. She turned away 46 shots last season for an average of 1.4 per game. With both players combining for about 12 and a half feet of height, look for the opposition to be greeted with much resistance inside the lane for the 2003-04 season.
TCU's defense is about more than just blocking shots. Last season, opponents shot just 36.1 percent from the floor, placing TCU 17th in the nation and first in C-USA in field goal percentage defense. The year before, the Purple and White was even more miserly in allowing the opposition to make shots, as it held its foes to 35 percent shooting, seventh-best nationally. Teams did not find much success from behind the arc last year either, making a mere 163-of-585 for a 27.9 percent clip. Among C-USA institutions, only Tulane stifled offenses to an even lower number. Rebounding has also been an important factor in the TCU "D," as it led the league in overall boards with 40 per game and in defensive rebounds at 27.7 each contest.
Top-notch recruiting classes have become a staple of TCU women's basketball since Head Coach Jeff Mittie and his staff took over the program in 1999. Much of the credit goes to Associate Head Coach Larry Tidwell, who was selected as an AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year last August. TCU's first class in 2000 was rated 22nd nationally, only to be outdone the following year when it was chosen No. 4 to become the most highly-touted group in school history. The 2002 class was tabbed No. 26 and this year's collection of newcomers received a No. 10 billing. Three of them hail from the Lone Star State, while the fourth is a native of New Mexico. The sole out-of-stater, point guard Adrianne Ross, was tabbed as the third-best player in the country at her position and the 17th overall. TCU picked up another floor general in El Paso's Natasha Lacy, who was rated ninth-best in the nation at the point and 23rd among all players. Cisco swing player JimAnne Baker, the 2002 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 2A Player of the Year, will be joining the TCU family this fall as well. Rounding out the class is the Metroplex's own Jenna Lohse, a forward who played ball for Richland High School. Lohse was picked as the 17th-best post player in the country and earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades as a junior from Street & Smith's. Rounding out the class is local product Psyché Butler from nearby O.D. Wyatt High School. Butler was selected to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News First Teams and nominated for McDonald's All-America status.
There are no new additions to the Lady Frog coaching staff this season, but Sean McShane and Lonnette Hall have swapped roles for the year. McShane, who joined TCU last September, served as the director of basketball operations in his first season, while Hall was a floor coach primarily responsible for the post players. The move was made in order to fit Head Coach Jeff Mittie's staff with where they wanted to be and also where they could best help the team. Hall has a long-term goal of becoming an athletics administrator and McShane sees himself as more of an on-the-floor coach.
I'LL BE YOUR HOST TONIGHT
Actually, it is going to be more than a one night affair when TCU hosts the 2004 C-USA Tournament at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. The event takes place over a four-day span from March 4-7. Under the current conference rules, the top 12 teams compete in the tournament with first-round byes given to the four squads with the best regular-season conference records. It should bode well for the Lady Frogs considering they are 52-15 (.776) on their home turf under the direction of Jeff Mittie. Last season, TCU entered the tourney as the No. 5 seed and under the pressure of knowing that its only chance of making the NCAA Tournament was dependent upon winning the league crown. That is exactly what the Lady Frogs did, defeating the tournament's top two seeds, Charlotte and Cincinnati, to claim the title and become the first team in C-USA history to win the tourney playing on four consecutive days.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Three Lady Frogs will be looking for access to the elite 1,000-point club this season, a group that only consists of five members now. Janice Dziuk is the Lady Frogs' all-time leading scorer with 1,302 points, followed closely by Jill Sutton at 1,300. 2002-03 senior Tricia Payne tallied 1,178 to place third and Sutton's twin sister Amy is right behind that figure at 1,166. Leah Garcia rounds out the list with 1,151 to her credit. Senior guard Ebony Shaw is the closest right now with 804 points. Classmate Tiffany Evans is not far behind with 760 points and junior Sandora Irvin has already amassed 731 points in just two seasons. Assuming everything goes according to plan, it should be particularly sweet for Head Coach Jeff Mittie to see this unit accomplish the feat since two of the three were members of his original recruiting class at TCU.
RECORDS BOOK CHECK
Seniors Tiffany Evans and Ebony Shaw and junior Sandora Irvin are not only looking to score 1,000 points for their careers but also for a place in TCU's records book. Irvin has already written and rewritten the single-season and career standards for blocks with 128 and 213. Her next closest competitor is Evans with 138 for her career. Irvin set the single-season rebound mark last season as well with 320 and is fourth on the career list with 614. She needs 165 to better Janice Dziuk's 778 established over 1987-90. Evans stands fifth with 576 and could potentially finish right behind Irvin in that category as well. Irvin is also sixth in free throws made (217) and fifth in free throws attempted (326). Meanwhile, Evans is third in free throws made (249), fourth in attempts (345), ninth in free throw percentage (.721), and ninth in three-pointers made (67) and attempted (206). Not to be outdone, Shaw is ninth in field goals attempted (756), fifth in free throw percentage (.769) and seventh in three-pointers canned (76) and attempted (222). Interestingly enough, Shaw is also 10th in blocked shots (32) and should she pick up 15 like last season, she would have sole possession of fourth place. The 5-foot-10 Shaw has been tough on the boards as well with 350 for her career, and she needs only 79 more to crack the top-10 on TCU's list.