Jan. 5, 2011
Game Notes in PDF Format
Marketing & Promotions:
Free Admission for our C-USA opener! All seats are general admission, so get there early and get great seats! If you have a parking pass that you use at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, that will also work at FedExForum, otherwise all garage parking will be $10.
This will be the 13th meeting between Marshall and Memphis, with all of the previous 12 meetings coming since the Thundering Herd joined Conference USA. It took Memphis until last year to get a win in the series, knocking off Marshall 57-50 in Huntington for the program's first-ever win against Marshall. The Tigers added a 63-53 win over Marshall in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse to sweep the season from Marshall last year. That win was important for the Tigers, as it was the team's final C-USA win of the season, helping Memphis hang on to a first round bye in the C-USA tournament.
Marshall brings a young team into the 2010-11 C-USA slate, with just one senior and three juniors on the squad. The senior is pre-season all-conference center Tynikki Crook, who ranks second in Conference USA in scoring with 18.9 ppg and third in rebounding with 9.1 rpg. Crook also ranks third in the league in field goal precentage (54.7) and is tied with the Tigers' Savannah Ellis for 11th with 1.0 block per game through the non-conference schedule.
The Thundering Herd was also getting double-digit points from junior point guard Lateidra Elliott (10.2 ppg) through nine games before Elliott suffered an injury. She is expected back in the line-up yet this season. Sophomore guard Veronica Ruiz can also score for Marshall, averaging 8.6 points per game and ranking second on the team with 13 steals on the season. Ruiz is also a strong rebounder for Marshall, averaging 5.4 caroms a night from the guard/forward spot.
As young teams do, Marshall has been on the wrong end of the turnover game through a different non-conference schedule, averaging 20.3 turnovers a game while forcing opponents in to 17.3 turnovers. But the Thundering Herd has won two of its last four games and will look to push the game in to the 60s. When Marshall scores 61 or more points, the Thundering Herd is 3-2. When they score 60 or less, they are 0-6.
Time to Open Conference Play
The non-conference season is now behind Memphis and the challenge of league play is ahead. Entering her third year in C-USA play, Melissa McFerrin is stressing to her team that the Tigers are now 0-0 and nothing they accomplished in the non-conference schedule will help them accomplish their team goals.
Memphis is 1-1 in C-USA openers under McFerrin, having snapped a seven-game C-USA opening losing streak with a win over Tulsa last season in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. The Tigers are 6-9 all-time in C-USA openers and are opening the league schedule at home for the third straight season. Memphis had five players score in double-digits in the win over Tulsa last season and lost to UAB in McFerrin's first year at the helm of the Tigers.
Elma Roane, Downtown Edition
This will be the second of four games the Tigers will play at FedExForum this season. One of a very few college women's basketball teams to play multiple regular season games in an NBA arena, Memphis has made the most of the C-USA games its had there as of late, going to overtime in the last two games in the building last year. Memphis held off Rice in overtime in a nationally-televised game, then was upended by East Carolina on senior day when Kim Gay knocked down a three in the final seconds of the game. Memphis tried to rally back from Gay's three, but Brittany Carter was knocked off the ball while trying to bring it up the court as the overtime session expired.
Memphis will be looking to start a streak at the downtown facility similar to the one it has on its campus floor. The Tigers have won 18 straight on the campus floor and already have won a games in bigger arena venues this year, winning at Indiana and Saint Louis.
Change in C-USA Travel Format
This year will be the first year that women's basketball does not have travel partners, a format the league has had since its formation over 15 years ago. That means that the weekends of back-to-back road games will become rare. Memphis has just one weekend with back-to-back road games (2/17 at Southern Miss and 2/20 at Tulane). The new travel format also accompanies a change in days of play, moving from a Thursday/Saturday format to a Thursday/Sunday format. Memphis will play three Thursdays at home to start the conference schedule, and will play three straight Sundays on the road in the month of January. Memphis' first C-USA road game will be this coming Sunday at East Carolina.
Ellis Two Blocks From Tying Whitmore
Senior center Savannah Ellis needs two more blocks to tie Tiger great Tamika Whitmore for second all-time at Memphis in career blocks. Ellis has 106 blocks heading in to conference play. Second is as high as she will get on the career chart, as the overall career mark is 313, held by Regina Street (1981-85).
McFerrin Edging Closer to Win No. 100
The Tigers need seven more wins to get Melissa McFerrin to her 100th coaching victory. McFerrin's overall record entering Thursday's league opener against Marshall is 93-105 over the course of six seasons as a head coach.
Jackson Finding Success in Her Role
Sitting out an entire college basketball season and being able to participate just in practice does not necessarily mean you will be ready to go the first game of the season. Sophomore guard Mary Jackson has apparently gotten comfortable in her role as a defender and a speedster running the lanes for Memphis. In her last outing, she was 3-for-5 from the field, a perfect 2-for-2 from three-point range and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line and added five rebounds, including four offensive, and a team-high three assists and three steals in a season-high 29 minutes of play. The 11 points tied a career high she had set just three games earlier against North Carolina A&T and the two three point field goals were the first of the season for her. She is also one of five Tigers to be shooting over 70 percent from free-throw line, shooting 72.0 percent (18-for-25), something that is important for someone with her slashing ability.
Lee Back to the Starting Lineup
Junior post Jasmine Lee made her first start since the Nov. 27th game at Kansas in the win over Jackson State. Memphis responded with a slow first half, but Lee, who struggled shooting, hitting just 3-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-6 from the free-throw line, didn't let her tough shooting night affect the rest of her game, finishing with 10 rebounds and three assists. The single digit scoring total snapped a five-game double-digit scoring streak Lee started against UALR.
Abdul-Qaadir Developing for the Tigers
Being a college point guard is already a challenge without adding being a freshman and having to come back from knee surgery that cost an entire season last year, but freshman point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir might be seeing the game slow down a bit. The Springfield, Mass., native has played double-digit minutes in three of the last four games, including 19 minutes in the win over Jackson State, her longest playing stint since the Tigers' win at Indiana. Against JSU, Abdul-Qaadir finished with nine points for a second straight game, hitting 3-for-7 from the floor, 3-for-4 from the free-throw line and handing out two assists and grabbing one steal. In the win over McNeese State, she was 1-for-2 from the floor, but 7-for-8 at the free-throw line.
Collier Consistency Helping Tigers
Junior college transfer Danay Collier played a career-high 20 minutes in the win over Jackson State and has gone 3-for-3 from the field in the last two games. The JC transfer struggled at the free-throw line against JSU, hitting 1-for-4, but tied a career high with two steals and dishing out a career-best three assists while finishing with five points in the win.
Collier will be one of two John F. Kennedy grads on the floor on Thursday night, squaring off against Marshall's Veronica Ruiz. Ruiz is a sophomore guard/forward for the Thundering Herd.
Carter Making the Most of Having Help
Junior guard Brittany Carter is getting by with a little help from her friends this year. Carter has uncharacteristically put four single digit scoring outings in the books, but it hasn't affected the Tigers like it would have last year. Carter did have single digits in the loss to Missouri in the Tigers' last game at FedExForum, but single digit efforts against North Dakota State, UALR and McNeese State didn't hurt Memphis, as other teammates stepped up to handle the scoring load.
Against Jackson State, Carter played just 17 minutes, but got back in the swing of things, finishing with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting. Carter has also still hurt opponents at the free-throw line, hitting 28-of-38 attempts (73.7 percent).
Dickson Getting Back to Full Strength
Sophomore forward Nicole Dickson missed the first two games of the regular season with an injury and the Greeneville, Tenn., native is now getting up to speed, hitting double digit points in four of the last five games. Dickson is slowly getting up to speed from beyond the arc though, hitting just 21.4 percent from there for the season. The upside to that stat is that she was 4-for-8 from beyond the arc last week, and in her first-ever college game at FedExForum against Indiana last year, she scored 20 points.
Lonlack Gets Rebound No. 400
Appropriately, junior guard Ramses Lonlack passed a rebounding benchmark with an offensive board in the win over Jackson State on New Year's Eve, giving her 400 rebounds in her collegiate career. How rare is it for a guard to hit the 400 rebound mark? On the current roster, only one other player has passed the 400 rebound mark, senior center Savannah Ellis, who has 585 career boards in 106 career games. Of the 23 other Tigers who have had 400 or more career rebounds, just four of them were guards.
9. Diane Gary (1988-92) 293 offensive 377 defensive 670 total
15. Kitty Allen (1993-97) 193 offensive 366 defensive 559 total
21. Victoria Crawford (2001-05) 157 offensive 301 defensive 458 total
22. Paris Leonard (2005-09) 178 offensive 261 defensive 439 total
25. Ramses Lonlack (2008-now) 182 offensive 224 defensive 406 total
A Blemish-Free December
Memphis used a 83-64 victory over Jackson State to put the final touches on a blemish-free December. The Tigers won seven games in the final month of 2010, including a road win at Saint Louis. The last time Memphis went unbeaten in December was 1998-99. That Tiger squad opened December with a win over No. 13 Arkansas and added victories over Georgia Southern, UNC Wilmington, Mississippi State, Austin Peay and UAB. That team advanced to the semifinals of the WNIT and finished with a 22-10 record.
Four on TV This Year
Memphis will make at least four appearances on television this season as part of the Conference USA television package. The Tigers' first televised game will be January 23rd on the road at Houston, one of the team's Memphis tied with for second place with in the standings last season. The only home game that will be televised out of this package will be the January 30th game against Southern Miss. That game has been moved down to FedExForum to accommodate the TV production and has been pushed back to a 6 p.m. tip.
Memphis then will face defending C-USA regular season and tournament champion Tulane on TV on February 20th at 5 p.m. in New Orleans. Memphis will wrap up its C-USA TV appearances will be the final game of the regular season, March 3rd at UCF.