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It has been an INCREDIBLE four years here!!!
It is SENIOR point guard Alex Winchell here!!!
I spent all day yesterday updating the records section of the media guide and for that project, had to go through every box score from the season to update some single game records. That gave me the idea for this blog, some of the highs from this season. I don't know if I can get a Top 10 list out of it, but let's see.
I hope you all had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. I know the extra day off gave those of us in athletics a nice break and a chance to catch our breath before the first summer session of school ends later this week.
Just a couple of housekeeping things right now and then obviously we are expecting news of the conference tournament's location in the next few hours (or next few days if it's not released until it's official through the University Presidents).
I just wanted to update everyone on my progress with my knee injury. If you didn't know before I went down in practice the day before our first game in the WBI tournament. I partially tore my patellar tendon in my right knee.
Just checking in with a couple of quick news bits for you for this weekend. While we hope to see you in New Orleans for our game at Tulane, those of you who cannot make it to the game in person can still listen online for free to Jeff Brightwell's play-by-play call at www.gotigersgo.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/08stretch-audio.html.
Hey Tigers Fans! Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Janeta Reeves. I am #12 for the Memphis Tigers and the newest addition to the team! I walked on and officially became a Tiger in October of 2009. This has been the greatest and most challenging experience of my life. These are my thoughts, the thoughts of a walk on.
The summer is officially moving by too fast...I just got an email request from our conference office for our 2009-2010 wbkb roster and quick facts and I still haven't filed the senior class from last year's stuff in our archives yet!
Just a couple of quick notes for you....if you plan on visiting us in the AOB any time soon, please be aware that construction of the Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame began in earnest this morning as the parking lot adjacent to the AOB on Normal is now closed. You are welcome to park in the designated visitor parking spots in front of the Ticket Office side, but we will be crunched for parking from now on since the parking lot (all the way down to the second tree) will be under construction as the new Hall of Fame.
A couple of the players for the upcoming season are on campus now and are taking classes. I don't know that everyone knows what these student-athletes schedules look like during the fall and spring, so to be able to knock out 3-6 credits in the summer is a huge help in keeping everyone on track with their respective degree programs.
You may have seen the release about the ranking of our women's basketball signing class for the upcoming season. It will be a big change in faces on the court compared to last season, with three (maybe four) players who played last year able to suit up this season. We counted up a week or so ago, and since Coach McFerrin has arrived in Memphis in April of 2008, we have signed 12 different players to the wbkb roster!
The Sixth Annual Fast Break Club Golf Scramble has been scheduled for Sept. 11th. Registration forms are available on the women's basketball page in the right hand column, or by contacting Gaylon Hall. Even if you don't golf, you can still support the outing by donating a door prize or sponsoring a hole. That form is available as well on our website. The goal is to raise money for locker room and Elma Roane Fieldhouse renovations and to start fundraising for an international basketball tour, so any and all help is much-appreciated.
The summer rolls on. Some of the players will be on campus for the summer session that begins on June 6th and the newest assistant coach, Brett Schneider, is trying to get the 2009-2010 non-conference schedule wrapped up. Coach McFerrin has already spilled the beans about adding Indiana and Missouri, coach McFerrin's alma mater, to the schedule for next year. We will also be returning a road game to Ohio University and have former C-USA member Saint Louis back on the schedule beginning next season. On Monday, June 1st, we'll also have the formal announcement of the new coaching staff. Coach wanted to announce both newcomers at once, so Monday we'll have the formal release up for Coach Schneider and our new Director of Basketball Operations.
Sitting in the Southern Miss recreation center while the women's basketball team is practicing on one of the four courts. There are a bunch of people shooting in open gym on the other three courts and we have court three, so we have some rec games going on both sides of our practice, kind of an intesting experience.
The team is happily back on the ground after a rough travel morning. We had a 4:30 a.m (ET) wake-up call, loaded the bus and got to the airport and found that our flight had been moved up to 6:15 from 6:30, so it was quick get checked in, get through security and walk right to the plane. We actually flew back to Memphis, landing at about 7:30 this morning in some bumpy air that came with the rain that has been in Memphis. We then grabbed breakfast in the airport, and flew to Hattiesburg since we have to practice from 2-4:00 today, unfortunately, we were on a proppeller plane that really made for a rough ride in the turbulence for about the last quarter of the Hattiesburg trip. We had a couple of folks who were green in the gills when we got off...I think we'll all be happy for the five-hour bus ride home after the game tomorrow night.
It took a bit to get our luggage off the plane, only to find we were missing 10 bags. So while we are here at practice, Tony Martin is on his way back to Memphis to pick up a second set of uniforms since we don't anticipate getting any bags until saturday morning if we're lucky. We got to our hotel, had a quick lunch and then if the girls all did what I did, we took a nap. Jeff Brightwell and Coach McFerrin taped her radio coach's show, which Jeff emailed to WREC, and he's not at practice now, so I'm gonna guess he's finally finding time for some shut-eye as well. The team is working on a few problems from last night and getting ready for USM for tomorrow, and with no tables, Kristin Henke (our academic advisor) and myself are sitting on the floor in the end zone, so I'm gonna wrap this up and make sure a loose ball doesn't end up taking out my laptop after I already dropped my Blackberry in a sink to start the trip.
Just 21 minutes to game time for our contests at UCF in Orlando. Had a chance to talk with former Tiger Jessica Hall, who is sitting out this year as a transfer for the Knights. She'll be the veteran player on a team of youngsters next year, as this year's UCF squad has nine sophomores...Jeff Brightwell joked with her that she must be the team mom.
Tonight's game is televised live on Bright House networks for those of you living in Florida, Indiana, Alabama, Michigan and California.
It will air on a tape delay basis on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS), beginning at 9 p.m. (ET) and on CBS-College Sports, also on a tape-delay basis, beginning at 10 p.m. (ET).
Should have starters in soon, 19:13 to introductions. Game officially tips at 7:05 p.m.
Still no real hint as to who we will be playing in the conference tournament and what our seeding will be. A lot will depend on the games on Thursday night. Memphis cannot be the No. 12 seed, because we beat Rice, and even if Rice wins out and we lose two games, we'd own the tiebreak with them, so we could be no lower seeded than No. 11. We are No. 10 right now, but Tulsa won over Houston yesterday, so if the Golden Hurricane wins both of its remaining home games and if the Tigers don't get at least one win on the road this weekend, we would fall to the NO. 11 seed.
No one apparently wants to lead the conference alone this season. Southern Miss and UCF were battling it out two weeks ago, and both lost road games. USM is now tied with UTEP, who beat USM 105-87 to take the tiebreak advantage in that series on Saturday, and SMU. USM did beat SMU in its one meeting with the Mustangs, so if those three remain tied, it then goes to their respective records....well, let's just say I'm glad I don't have to figure out that tiebreak situation!
I get asked about once a month or so what my job entails on game days, so yesterday (Senior Day), I tried to keep a running list. Here is a 'typical' game day in sports information:
10:00 a.m. -- Arrive at office. Run updated Conference USA releases for radios, review the senior script, make sure the digital camera is charged, create game file on stats computer and pack everything up to head to the gym (I'm really envious of people whose office is in the same building as their gyms on days like this).
11:30 a.m. -- Realize I lost my parking pass for the garage, but the gates are open (yeah)...Unload all the stuff I just loaded in the car 10 minutes ago and wheel in to the fieldhouse.
11:45 a.m. -- I'm a little behind already and I just got here. Tony Martin (our DBO) needs to use our printer to run the passlist, so I have to quick try to get everything loaded out of our storage room and out to courtside. The technical aspect gets a little more complicated when Jeff Brightwell tells me none of the outlets on his end of press row are working, so we have to string a bunch of extension cords again for this game. (We thought the problem was fixed because the outlets actually worked for the Friday night game! Never know what you have til you get there!).
12 something-ish -- Set up stat monitors and stat laptops...Loaded game file I created in the office and tried to get my laptop to read Tony's USB drive...it doesn't read it for some reason, so Tony has to go back to the office to run his list....technology!
12 something-ish -- Realize I forgot to write down the times I've been doing stuff for this blog, so just humor me!
12 something-ish -- Take game programs (which I stuffed Saturday when I came in the office), over to entrance, set up stuff for my stat crew....Stamp vouchers for stat crew (I think that might be the most important part of my job, is making sure my stat crew is in place and fed).
12 something-ish -- Go over senior day script with Larrick and then again with Brian Crawford, our media relations intern who is going to be taking photos. I also make sure the Marshall SID and radio guy get settled and what they need and review the senior day timing sheet with them so we're not catching them off guard.
1 something-ish -- It's after 1:00, I know this because Jimmy Ogle got here at 1:15. Jimmy is doing our official scorebook today in place of Jimmy Hayslip, who is having a much-deserved day off from doing the book. Walk Jimmy through who our scratches are for the game and go up to get live stats set up. The little laptop that runs the live stats for our website didn't work Friday night, so I fiddled with it on Saturday and am crossing my fingers and hoping it works.
1 something-ish -- The little laptop isn't working....realize I forgot to connect the network cable to the internet hub -- um, user error?
1 something-ish -- Hey, we just realized I messed up the timing sheet and we are five minutes behind, so we steal three minutes off the pre-game clock...luckily, no one notices (until I out this on the blog!). Larrick Johnson is super-assistant, he's got the seniors' families all lined up on the end zone and the table is set up at center court (thanks to Charlotte Peterson for setting that up pre-game).
1 something-ish -- Um, that's not Paris' grandma on the end zone. I asked each of the seniors who was walking out with them today and obviously Paris' family had a change of plans. I grab Paris quick as the pre-game countdown winds down and we review the script realllllyyyyy quick with Chuck Roberts (super PA!). Chuck is not a fan of my scripts (I'm thinking) because he ad-libs the beginning of the ceremony, which leaves Larrick and I looking at one another trying to figure out when to send the first senior out. I gave Larrick the exact script so he knew where we were in the ceremony, but we wing it!
1 something-ish -- Whew, senior festivities done...the camera didn't run out of memory or power, nothing fell and shattered and we got done in 3 minutes (there is a conference rule saying you cannot go over 5 minutes). National anthem time, then starters.
2:04 -- Can you believe we tipped early?
2 something-ish -- Tigers hanging with Marshall early...then take a lead. Once I sit down, I'm trying to take notes on the game for the post-game story I have to write. The Commercial Appeal is not here today, so my post-game story will possibly get used in some format for their story if I don't get it to them too late....Thank goodness for journalism school, writing on deadline with no background would be brutal.
2 something-ish -- Down at the half. We run box scores quick for the coaching staffs to look at in their respective locker rooms. We have to fix the minutes on the box and reprint it and have some weird little stat crew issues, nothing life-changing, we're ok.
2 something-ish -- Back at play...I joke that during the game is the easiest part of my job...as long as the scoreboard is functioning, or the stat computers don't lock up, or the live stats or monitors crash....well, ok, easy is relative. The stat monitors crashed Friday night and the live stats never worked, so I'm pretty optimistic that for our final home game, we're gonna be ok.
3 something-ish -- Well, the scoreboard shows we are still winless against Marshall. We check the stats against the official book, then run books for the coaching staffs and radio guys. I make sure the Marshall SID has gotten everything he needs from my super stat crew, then go get Coach McFerrin out of the back to go to radio...this is a process that is quicker some days than others, but not too bad tonight.
3 something-ish -- I quickly get to see former Tigers Tamika Butler and Raven Rogers and saw Gresh Gorman in the stands earlier. Unfortunately, just a quick hello and hug with both of them, then I have to help our interns break down all the stuff I set up about, um, 3 hours ago.
3 something-ish -- Post game is done and players and fans are trickling in to a post-game reception for the Fast Break club. I shoot one quick photo of the seniors' cake and then go back to work.
4:45 -- I'm back in the office in the AOB. I have a box and a laptop bag to unload and then a post-game story to write.
5:15 -- I have the first draft of the story wrote and started updating the website, emailed the game file to C-USA and updated the NCAA xml site...I load the story to the website and realize I forgot to mail it to my media list, so I get that done.
5:57 -- I'm eating a salad I bought on Friday knowing I had to work all weekend. I had about 6 nachos and a drink at the game, so it occurred to me, I'm kinda hungry.
6:18 -- I'm trying to figure out who to nominate for Player of the Week to C-USA...I'll text coach to get her thoughts and to see if anyone is doing a women's basketball video coaches' show this week.
7:10 -- Hmm, still no word back for Player of the Week, but I did get our all-conference stuff typed up (it's due tomorrow) and sent our stats and media requests to UCF and USM for our next games. I type up two different players of the week forms and will save it in my email draft box. It's 7:35 when I shutdown my desktop...another nine hour day (this is why we don't track hours worked in athletic media relations!).
7:35 -- Coach texts me player of the week info and says she's out tomorrow and giving her assistants a day off, so she'll see if anyone wants to do the video show...Coach Wholey ends up emailing me that he'll do it at 6:29 Monday morning (have to remember to turn off email alerts on my phone).
So, there you go...a day, plus some, in the life of a sports information person on game day. There is no typical day, but it's all pretty chaotic, that's about the only thing each day has in common :0)
It is hard to believe that my last home game at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse is Sunday. Also, that my college basketball career at the University of Memphis will soon come to an end. It still hasn't hit me yet, it probably won't until the game is over on Sunday. I never thought that this day would come, and it makes me sad to even think about it, because I don't want it to end just yet, I feel like the fun has just begun. I've enjoyed my time here as a Tiger. The fans are wonderful and have always been there for support no matter what. I want to thank all the fans so much for everything.
My teammates are great. They are all like my little sisters that I care so much about. We have had each others backs, laughed, and cried together. As a team we have grown so much as individuals and learned so much from each other. On the court we have played hard for each other and when others doubted our abilities, we stuck together and made it happen. So I want to thank my teammates for making this the best senior year for me possible, I will never forget you guys. But, we didn't do all of this alone. Our coaches have helped us along the way and taught us so many things also. I want to thank them as well for just being there for each and every one of us, we are better individuals because of them. We are one big happy family and this year I will truly miss them. I can never have it back, all I will have is memories. I must say this is one of the best seasons of my career that will never be forgotten.
Basketball is all I've known for the past 10 years of my life. I am going to miss actually playing and being a part of a team. I used basketball to get an education and never thought I would be without it. There have been many life lessons learned and some that I will always use throughout my life.
I want to thank my mom, dad, sister, and nephew for always being supportive in all of my decisions they have watched me grow into a woman. I also want to thank my high school coach she helped my make it to the next level.
Thank You Again Everyone for Everything, Ashley (A.T.) #42
Good afternoon Tiger fans....We are back in town following a 65-60 road win at Tulsa yesterday. That game was really a team effort as everyone played double-digit minutes yesterday with just eight players dressed for the game. We got to the game and all 14 Tulsa players were out on the court shooting and I looked to the other end and saw just eight folks for us and wondered what we were in for! But our pressure defense that we played against SMU really gave Tulsa some problems, as their posts would catch the ball in the full court press and then would have some trouble passing out of the trap because our guards did a great job of denying their guards the ball.
We are now 3-3 on the road in league play with wins at Rice, UAB and Tulsa and losses at Marshall, East Carolina and Houston...and if you sandwich the second half of the ECU game with the first half of the Marshall game, we might have left another road win out there somewhere. Now we need to get our first league win at home.
This weekend will be our last shot for a home win or two. We host East Carolina Friday night in a Pink Zone night. That's also a Take a Kid to the Game night where all kids receive free admission with a paying adult. So we give you the OK for this game to wear Pink instead of your Memphis Blue in support of breast cancer awareness and research.
Then Sunday, we will celebrate Black History Month and will say a Fieldhouse good-bye to seniors Jessica Jackson, Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton. I am officially feeling my age as I write that sentence as Paris Leonard was the first women's basketball signee I wrote about as the women's basketball SID five years ago! We have already seen this team accomplish some great things, start off 5-2, win our home tournament, go in to league play with a winning record and now tie the win total from last season with four regular season games still to go...There's still some goals out there, so even though we haven't pulled together a complete home game win in league play yet, don't give up on us and come out this weekend to say thanks to the girls and support them as they try to continue to build momentum for the league tournament.
Speaking of the tournament, just a reminder that this year's tournament is in New Orleans, Mar. 5-8th. We'd love to see you there and always have a great advantage when our spirit squad and band make the trip..we'd love to see our fans there too! But if you are unable to make it to New Orleans, the games can be heard on WUMR, 91.7 FM and if you have an All-Access subscription, you can watch the live streaming video from our website.
Wow, almost 2 months since my last post...sorry Tiger fans, this season has been a blur! We are getting ready to load the bus in about 40 minutes and will drive down to UAB for a Saturday contest against the Blazers. This should be an interesting game because both teams have a trio of players who rank in the top 10 in the league in minutes played and this is also the first team that we will be seeing for a second time this season, so I'm curious to see how the players respond to having a chance to make changes against a team they had a good chance to beat in the season opener. I expect we'll see a few threes in this game if the first one is any sign of what's to come, let's just hope UAB doesn't hit 12 like they did in the first meeting! I'm going to guess the Tigers worked this week on closing out their respective shooters.
We had a light week this week....well, light for college basketball anyways. The girls still had class all week, but got both Sunday and Tuesday as days off, which is probably the first time since the holiday break they've had more than one day off. I'm sure their legs still feel pretty heavy, but when you are used to going six days a week, having multiple days off feels like a vacation!
Believe it or not, we have just three home games remaining. We host SMU on Thursday (Feb. 12th). I watched the first half of SMU's game at Southern Miss last night on CBS-C...USM prevailed in the battle for first in the league standings, so let's hope SMU burns some of the anger from that loss off at UCF this weekend before they roll in to Memphis on Thursday. The Mustangs will be repeating the four-game conference road swing that we went through two weeks ago, and it's a tough one...especially that UCF/USM travel. The game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday...hope to see you there!
Hey Tiger fans.....just a quick note to say hello from the Bahamas. My laptop battery is about to die (I'm in the lobby of our hotel), but I did load a photo gallery of our first two days here. We arrived Tuesday night a bit behind schedule, then got up early Wednesday for an 8 a.m. practice and then a catamaran trip where the team got to snorkel. The photo gallery is here: Photo Gallery From Catamaran trip
Well Tiger fans, if you can believe, this is game week. The women's basketball team will play an exhibition game against DT-3 (also known as Team Essence on the earlier schedules) at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Yes, a.m. We are bringing 22 buses worth of elementary school kids to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse for the exhibition game to kick off the Classroom on the Court program that Conference USA put together for this season in women's basketball. There is a website where teachers go to get information about each C-USA women's basketball team that they can use to teach math and geography for elementary school kids throughout the Mid-South. And the kids who come to the game go pick up a worksheet for that game. When they complete the worksheet and turn it in, they earn points for their school. The school with the most points at the end of the season wins a prize.
Two C-USA women's teams already have an exhibition game under their respective belts. Marshall won its exhibition opener 78-41 with sophomore Tynikki Crook picking up where she left off from her freshman season with a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds.
UTEP defeated St. Mary's 59-40. The Miners went 16-0 in conference play last season, but graduated or lost eight players off the roster, so the 59 points scored was a bit under their 71.4 ppg average last season. Pre-season Player of the Year Jareica Hughes was the lone Miner in double-digits, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting.
Tuesday night, in addition to being Voting Day for those of you who have not yet voted in early voting (don't worry, I'll be standing in line tomorrow as well!), will be our Memphis men's basketball exhibition game against Christian Brothers, and will be another exhibition night for a fellow C-USA women's program as SMU hosts the Houston Jaguars, a team that featured former women's player Melissa Abraham for a couple of exhibition games last season.
Admission to the Memphis women's exhibition game on Friday morning will be free. Parking will still be charged and be warned that the flat lot across the street is a permit-only parking lot during the school day, so you could feasibly be ticketed (you've been warned!). Maybe this is a good time to mention you can purchase a season-long parking permit in the garage for all women's basketball games for just $45 at the ticket office. I believe Lynn Parkes worked with the FedExForum folks last year to have them honor the parking passes as well, but don't bank on that just yet since we are a ways out from the FEF games (Dec. 3, Dec. 11, Jan. 29th).
Basketball season is about to step up to full throttle in a couple of days. We've kept the coaching staff busy as of late, getting in the media guides for the season on Monday morning and then having Coach McFerrin tape an episode of a Coaches' Show with Jeff Brightwell (which you can view under the All-Access player on our website at www.gotigersgo.com for FREE). Today (Wednesday), Coach McFerrin is speaking to Tiger Scholarship Fund supporters at a luncheon at the Holiday Inn on campus and tomorrow Coach McFerrin and seniors Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton will join me downtown for Conference USA Media Day at FedExForum, then Friday night, the team will begin the season officially with practice.
Yesterday I went and sat through individual workout times and at the end of the session, Coach McFerrin mentioned that the date was the 14th and our first game was exactly one month away!
Fans can watch the activities from C-USA Media Day on our website at www.gotigersgo.com under the All-Access player. They will stream the women's basketball coaches press conferences beginning at 12:45 p.m. (assuming the men don't run long). Coach McFerrin will speak with the first group at 12:45, and Ashley and Paris will speak in the fourth group at 1:30 p.m.
From there, the Tigers will go around and do some local TV and print interviews, then at 3:46 p.m. (approximately), all three Memphis representatives will go on the CBS College Sports Women's Media Slam Live Show, which airs from the Grand Lobby of FedExForum. That can be viewed on CBS College Sports, which is channel 222 on digital cable; channel 152 on DishTV and Channel 613 on DirecTV.
Good afternoon from the AOB! The women's basketball team has been in individual workouts all fall and is counting down the days until practice can officially start on Oct. 17th.
We finally have all the game times posted for the upcoming season. Still no word from Conference USA on any TV games, so hopefully we'll have that for you shortly.
Saturday is an off-day for Tiger football, so look for the Tiger women's basketball team out at the Juvenile Diabetes Walk out at Shelby Farms. The team will be out there from 8 a.m. until noon supporting the individuals and teams that are walking out around Patriot Lake to raise money for juvenile diabetes research.
Other than that, don't forget football next Friday night (Oct. 10th) against former C-USA foe Louisville will be an ESPN game. So wear blue and come out to the Liberty Bowl!
I guess it's appropriate that Blog number 17 is coming 17 days before our first game. The team is now in full-fledged practice (although today is their day off) after a busy opening to the season. Seniors Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton joined Coach McFerrin downtown at Conference USA Media Day. A photo gallery from the day's activities is below:
If you didn't get a chance to catch the live broadcast of the press conferences or the TV show, you can still view it at www.gotigersgo.com by clicking on our All-Access player. The video for both parts of the day are free to view.
The following day, the team took part in the Memphis Madness festivities, also down at FedExForum. Here is a link to the Photo Gallery from the Memphis Madness Festivities:
The team is back to work tomorrow and for fans who are members of the Fast Break Club, the team will scrimmage, then participate in the Fast Break Tip Off Dinner on Oct. 28th...so be sure to have your Fast Break Club membership taken care of before then! Membership forms are available here.
Welcome to 2008-09!!! Women's basketball really got things rolling today with our annual Photo Day. We did head shots, set shots for the media guide cover, newcomer action photos, coaching group and action photos and a team photo...which is officially the most we have ever knocked out in one photo session in the time I've been at Memphis (which I'm surprised to say is nine years now, time flies!).
The team is up doing conditioning in the early mornings and will be able to start individual workouts some time next month. I know everyone is excited for the year to get rolling, as am I (I'd be more excited if the media guide was closer to being done!).
A couple of important dates to mark....next Friday (September 5th) is the Women's Basketball Golf Scramble. I know the Fastbreak Club folks work hard to get this outing pulled together and would love to see you there. The entry form is posted on our website at www.gotigersgo.com under women's basketball and Gaylon Hall's contact information is on there. Even if you can't golf, we'd love to see you there!
October 16th will be the day that Conference USA gets to meet Coach McFerrin officially as C-USA Basketball Media Day will be held in Memphis again at FedExForum. That will be a long day of interviews and will include a live TV interview with Coach and a selection of players on CBS College Sports...more on that to come. And I know everyone is waiting for a schedule....I promise that as soon as I see one, we'll post it and get started on helping you purchase your season basketball tickets. Keep checking our website!
Well I guess I can stop calling these summer blogs now...The girls who were here for summer school finished exams last week and are likely back home enjoying a week or so off before returning to start the fall. Move-in day into the dorms on campus is Thursday, Aug. 21st for the entire U of M community, but since most of the team was here for summer school, they are already moved in and are probably enjoying some last days at home with their families while the rest of their classmates are just getting settled.
If you see Jeff Brightwell today, make sure to say Happy Birthday...I'm not going to reveal his age, but he emailed me and said he's now closer to 40 than he is to 30.
The tournament in the Bahamas has changed a bit. Mercer and Florida Atlantic are no longer our possible opponents in the draw. We'll open against Texas-Arlington on the first day of the tournament, and then face either Winthrop or Georgia Tech in the second round. We played Winthrop two years ago at the Louisville tournament and they were almost entirely a roster of sophomores then, so we could be facing a team with a lot of seniors on it. Georgia Tech sports a familiar face to long-time Tiger fans, as former assistant coach Sytia Messer is the associate head coach at Tech. She was promoted in May to the associate head coach spot after spending the past five years on the Tech staff.
Speaking of former Tigers in coaching, congrats to Jennifer Sullivan. Sullivan was named the assistant coach at McNeese State University back in July and will be coaching under another former Memphis assistant, Brooks Donald-Williams. Sullivan played at Memphis from 2001-2004 and finished with 800 career points, 310 rebounds and 99 steals. She then spent two years on the coaching staff at Rhodes before spending last season at Memphis.
Wow, over a month between posts...sorry about that, but July has pretty much found the women's basketball staff out and on the road. They had a few days to take a break from the road, but are just starting to trickle back in to the office.
The traffic is really starting to pick up in the AOB. I've seen a lot of the girls walking through on their way to the business office to turn in their book receipts for the summer session that is currently under way. And believe it or not, football reports to camp on Sunday night. It'll be a busy couple of days of meetings for the fall athletes, but that means summer has officially come to an end for a lot of AOB staffers.
Rumor throughthe grapevine regarding the women's basketball schedule is that one exhibition game and one non-conference game have been added to the draft of the schedule that's put together right now. Hopefully we'll have a schedule to share with everyone soon, but I will tell you to mark down Nov. 28-29th for the Women's Basketball Thanksgiving Tournament and it looks like right now, our home opener could be Nov. 14th. With Memphis hosting the Conference USA volleyball championships, the Elma Roane Fieldhouse will have a busy November and will hosts quite a few games/matches in a really short time span. It's a real balancing act to keep the facility set up for both volleyball and women's basketball and the student managers for both teams do a great job of getting stuff broke down from one practice and set up for the next one.
And while not women's basketball-related (yet), please check out our volleyball, and men's and women's soccer pages. On Tuesday we taped the first of what will be weekly "Virtual Coaches TV Shows" through the All-Access part of the website. Jeff Brightwell, voice of our women's basketball team, was the host with all three of the head coaches (M&W Soccer, volleyball), and all three pre-season shows are being offered for free. We will stream as many home games this season as our one-camera and short-staffed video department can swing, and Brightwell will also voice the play-by-play for both soccers and volleyball for select games.
Sorry for the delay in between posts, but things are kind of slowing down here in the AOB for a little bit from the media relations front (except for the football media guide!). On the other side of our wall, the women's basketball staff is getting ready for the upcoming Evaluation Period which runs July 6-15th. In that short period of time, the women's basketball staff plans on hitting 15 different tournaments around the country, including stops in Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and Florida. Following that evaluation period, there is a quiet period from July 16th-July 21st before the next evaluation period begins on July 22nd. That evaluation period runs until July 31st and will find the four members of the staff out on the road at 15 different tournaments, covering stops in Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, New Yok and Mississippi. The first signing day for the kids of the 2008-09 signing class will be November 14th until November 21st for the early signing period. The regular signing period will be April 16th to May 21st. That's 30 stops in about 16 total days.
And speaking of newcomers, the staff still is not done adding newcomers for the upcoming season. Check back sometime next week and we should have information regarding another newcomer for the upcoming season!
Monday night was the Fast Break Club's Meet and Greet with the entire coaching staff, a bunch of folks that it's hard to get all in one room! The reception was well-attended and thanks to everyone for coming out. I loaded a photo gallery from the evening's festivities to our website at www.gotigersgo.com. In the left hand column of our home page, go to Photo Galleries, and the gallery is loaded there. It is also located in the link below:
A majority of the team is on campus and taking summer classes. The team will have a new strength and conditioning coach in the next week or so. As you may know, Carrie Yerty left Memphis to become the volleyball head coach at Wyoming, meaning her husband, Lee, also left the staff at Memphis, where he was the strength and conditioning coach for volleyball and women's basketball, as well as tennis. So there has been a bit of upheaval for the team since the season ended with an entirely new coaching staff and some new support folks as well.
Next up on the women's basketball calendar is recruiting, which begins on July 6th. The coaches will hit the road to begin the evaluation period for the next recruiting class, looking for likely four more players with the senior class of Paris Leonard, Jessica Jackson, Jessica Hall (assuming she is back for this season) and Ashley Thornton heading in to their final collegiate basketball seasons.
Gaylon Hall, the Fast Break Club president, would also like to get a couple of dates out there for women's basketball fans. July 23-25th marks the River City Classic, an event that the Fast Break Club works the concession areas for, and is in need of volunteers. Also, on September 5th, the Fourth Annual Women's Basketball Golf Scramble will be held in Bartlett at Quail Ridge. Entry forms are located at www.gotigersgo.com in the right hand column of the women's basketball page. Hole sponsorships are also available and prizes are being collected to be used as door prizes. So if you can help out, contact Gaylon at 901-372-4677 or by email at email@example.com.
Well as summer heats up, the women's basketball staff is now all in the office and is preparing for a pair of summer camps, beginning with a team camp this coming weekend (June 14-15th) and then the individual camp (June 16-19th).
While that is going on, former Lady Tiger Tamika Whitmore has helped her new WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun to first place in the WNBA Eastern Division with a 7-1 record. Whitmore, who was traded from Indiana in the pre-season while she was playing over in Europe, is averaging 15.2 ppg and 5.0 rebounds per game and has helped the Sun to four straight wins. That streak will be on the line Tuesday, June 10th when the Sun plays at the Lynx at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
For fans who cannot catch the ESPN2 game, the WNBA is also offering 90 games on their live webcasts for free. I saw the link on the Sun's website under their schedule page: http://www.wnba.com/schedules/ in the right hand column.
Mark your calendars, the Lady Tigers will participate in the 2009 C-USA Championships Mar. 5-8 in New Orleans, La., as Tulane will host the next C-USA Championships....Cafe du Monde Beignets here we come!
May is almost over and Coach McFerrin has been on staff for just over a month now. Speaking of staff, she rounded out her staff with the addition of Tempie Brown (Northwestern) and Danielle O'Banion (Minnesota) in the past week and now has just one spot remaining to fill -- the team's Director of Basketball Operations spot.
Since a lot of folks ask me this question, the Director of Basketball Operations (DBO) for the women's basketball team is kind of our team's traveling secretary. He/she makes sure that Lou Strasberg with Travelennium gets our schedule prior to each season. From there, Lou books hotels and flights and it becomes the DBO's job to make sure the team gets to the airport/gym on time and to get the team checked in and out of hotels once we arrive. On the road, the DBO also coordinates all the meals, whether it's finding a restaurant to eat out at or arranging for pre-game meals in the hotels we stay at...it's a busy, busy job. He/she also has to make sure that we pack everything that the coaching staff may need during the game (wipeboards, markers, water bottles, cough drops, gum, it's an endless list sometimes).
The DBO also oversees our student managers, of which we currently have three great managers -- John Nunnery, Ashley Snyder and Cornelius Sullivan. In pre-season, that foursome handles everything from uniforms and shoes getting ordered and logged in to the inventory to doing the team's laundry (both at home and on the road...we have some student managers who can probably tell you the location of laundrymats in a variety of cities across the country!). Once the team is in town and practicing, the DBO and the student managers arrive early to set the gym up for practice, run the clock during practice and keep any stats/video required, then break down practice in order for the Tiger volleyball team to get ready for their respective practices. The Elma Roane Fieldhouse is a pretty busy place from about noon to 6 p.m. on non-game days.
So, that's the short list on what the final piece of the coaching staff puzzle will possibly be doing. With each coaching staff, the duties vary a little, but in general, that's how that position has worked in the past. So the next time you meet the team's Director of Basketball Operations, be sure to thank them for keeping our travel party in line. We are a group of about 25 folks when we are on the road and keeping us all moving in one direction is quite the challenge!
P.S. -- Speaking of student managers...congratulations to former student manager Toby Bush. Toby was a student manager with women's basketball during his undergraduate and graduate career before joining former assistant coach Brenda Welch-Nichols staff at Mercer. Last year, he was the head coach at Neosho Community College in Kansas, but will be back closer to home after getting the women's head coaching job at Pearl River Community College a couple of weeks ago. Congrats!
Well the Lady Tigers are all back in their respective homes for a couple of weeks for the summer now that exams are done and books are turned back in, but the women's basketball office is still hoppin' over in the Athletic Office Building. Memphis will be adding one more assistant coach in the coming days as Northwestern's Tempie Brown starting logging some hours in the office last week. Coach Brown will serve as one of Coach McFerrin's assistants for the upcoming year, meaning there will be one more assistant coaching hire and a Director of Basketball Operations hire still coming up. Coach Wholey is working on putting together a session for women's basketball camp, so watch for that on www.gotigersgo.com as well in the upcoming weeks.
Memphis added two more signees in the late signing period (see their release on www.gotigersgo.com on the women's basketball main page), bringing a northeastern flavor to the roster. One signee from Brooklyn will be just the fifth Lady Tiger ever from the state of New York if my research so far is correct. The last New Yorker on the roster was Annquinnette Burkes from Buffalo from 1996-1998. Prior to that, the 1979-80 team had three New York residents: Nancy Lemp (Islip Terrace), Marcia Monk (Warwick) and Mary Ann Scheirmeyer (Averill Park).
The Tigers are also getting their first-ever player from the country of Cameroon and the second from the continent of Africa if research so far holds up. If anyone knows of any other athletes who have played for the Lady Tigers that hail from outside the United States, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org...Here's what I have so far:
Aroha Jennings, New Zealand, 2006-08 Charity Egenti, Lagos, Nigeria, 2002-2004 Jordie Soso, Australia, 2002-2004 Kalara McFadyen, New Zealand, 2000-2002
Some of the team will roll back in to town for summer classes next month. The full summer session begins on June 9th and will give incoming student-athletes a chance to earn some credits before the regular academic session gets going, allowing them to carry a more manageable course load during the academic year when the team is traveling and missing class time. The full summer session ends August 15th. For those who drive by the university daily, you'll still notice some traffic. That is the pre-summer session, which runs May 12th-May 30th. In total, the university has four summer sessions (pre-summer, full summer, 1st half and 2nd half).
Yesterday marked the last day of classes for the 2007-08 Memphis women's basketball roster and today (Thursday) is Study Day across campus, meaning I envision lots of U of M students doing some last minute cramming for exams that begin tomorrow. This afternoon is the M Club Senior Luncheon, where all seniors who have finished their eligibility and are getting ready to graduate will be honored by their respective head coaches and will get introduced to the M Club staff. M Club Director Tim Duncan has made some big changes in the M Club this year, and is trying to connect our current student-athletes with former student-athletes to help everyone get off to a good start in their post-U of M lives.
Good luck to the Lady Tigers with exams....study hard and have a good summer!
First off, let me apologize for the lack of posts on the women's basketball blog. In deciding to launch a blog for women's basketball, none of us knew that a coaching change was going to be so close around the corner, and without a staff, I opted to not ask the girls to post in order to give them some time to process everything that was going on.
Sunday night, April 20th, was the season-ending Fastbreak Club banquet. The Fastbreak Club did a great job of making sure the girls were recognized for their work this season and handled what could have been an uncomfortable situation very well. Freshman Savannah Ellis received the Most Improved Player award, much-deserved for a player with a bright future ahead of her. Junior Paris Leonard was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player, quite an honor for a player who will likely be our next Lady Tiger to 1,000 career points in her senior season. I don't know what Lady Tiger fans thought, but I thought the biggest growth in Paris' game from her sophomore to her junior seasons was definitely her defense. Jessica Hall received the Most Valuable Offensive Player Award. Imagine all those points having to sit on the sidelines over the past two seasons due to injuries for J-Hall...she's made a really remarkable comeback and was also one of 14 players from across all NCAA divisions (I, II and III) across the country to be selected a finalist for the V Foundation's Comeback Award, quite an honor. Ashley Thornton received the Lady Tiger award and the Les Phillips award. Both are awarded to the player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Lady Tiger. The Les Phillips award is a perpetual award, meaning anyone who walks in the women's basketball office back by the door to Coach McFerrin's office can see the plaque in honor of the former Lady Tiger booster hanging on the wall.
A little later that evening, new head coach Melissa McFerrin landed in Memphis and in arriving at the hotel, crossed paths with some of us leaving the banquet. I think it's fair to say everyone was impressed and excited to meet Coach McFerrin, although we did kind of ambush her in the lobby of the hotel -- sorry coach! So far, Coach McFerrin has had a busy few hours. She had not even been in Memphis for a full 24 hours when she had already knocked out some local school visits and made an appearance at the Tiger Scholarship Fund spring tour event at the DeSoto Civic Center. Today (Tuesday) is the last day women's basketball can be out on the road recruiting, so today will likely be more of the same for Coach McFerrin. Women's basketball enters a Quiet Period beginning on April 23rd, which lasts until July 5th. The NCAA's website defines a Quiet Period as the time when coaching staff can only make in-person recruiting contacts at the member institution, which means Coach McFerrin, in addition to having to hire a staff, will also only have the opportunity to host potential recruits here at the U of M for the remainder of this recruiting cycle. She can begin the evaluation period for her class of 2010 on July 6th when the next Evaluation Period begins.
For this year, the late signing period for basketball ends on May 21st. As of now, Memphis did ink two signees earlier this season (NCAA rules prohibit me from mentioning them again in a second release, but you can find the first releases I did on both signees under women's basketball, news headlines, on our website). For fans who may not know, women's basketball has 15 scholarships. We had 14 players this season, including one walk-on, and lost two to transfers during the season and one to graduation next month (Aroha Jennings).
Looking back on my freshman year, I definitely thought that it would take forever to get to my senior year, but it came with a blink of an eye! It took a while for me to really grasp the fact that my last home game is this weekend. It hit me, and I thought wow, I will never play in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse ever again after this game and it is sad. I have come to feel so comfortable in the fieldhouse. The small environment of the fieldhouse makes it feel like home and I wouldn't have it any other way. The crowd and fans are so close and it's a good feeling knowing we have support right there. It makes me enjoy playing in the fieldhouse so much more. All the people that have continually come to support us thru thick and I want to say a big thank you, as you have such a big impact on our success. Thank you.
The team this season has grown and developed so much and we have really proven a lot of people wrong. We have an amazing fight and have really come to learn how to play well with each other. We have fought thru a lot of adversity, but we have overcome it all together!. It's going to be difficult to leave the team, coaches and managers because we are like a little family and many of the relationships I have developed can never be replaced. It's a very overwhelming experience for me to know that I will never play with this team ever again, because no one team can ever be the same. In my case, this could possibly be one of my last games and I definitely have a lot of mixed emotions and am sad to know that my college career here in America is coming to an end.
My time here at Memphis has literally been some of the toughest years of my life, both physically and mentally, but it has made me stronger and the things that I have been through will carry me through life and the real world. I truly treasure my time here in Memphis and in the United States, even though it has been very tough at times. I have seen the world, played basketball at an intense and amazing level that I would not have be able to experience many other places, and I would never change my decision to come here.
I have had the time of my life, met some amazing people and have had the opportunity of a lifetime to be in America, receiving an education and competing as a basketball athlete. It will be a very emotional time for me entering my last game here in for The University of Memphis as a Lady Tiger for the last time, but I will be strong and take it all in and I will never forget my experiences here and will always be grateful.
I want to thank my family, my boyfriend Efrem, and my friends for always being there for me through the thick and thin. I would not have been able to do it without you all.
Your New Zealand Lady Tiger