Jan. 8, 2011
Game Notes in PDF Format
Scouting East Carolina
Memphis should be well-familiar with East Carolina, but even with the large number of returning players on the ECU roster, there is one major change. Gone is former head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener to Georgia State, and new head coach Heather Macy has brought her system with her to the Pirates program. Early indications are that it is working as the Pirates' offense ranks 33rd in the country in scoring with 75.1 ppg and 33rd in turnover margin with a +4.21. ECU also remains deadly from three-point range, hitting 6.2 triples a night, putting them in the top 100 in the country.
Junior guard Ashley Clarke is a speedster who will pressure the Tiger guards. She ranks 17th in the country with 3.2 steals a game, and converts them to a team-high 11.5 ppg on the other end. She also leads the Pirate offense to the tune of 46 assists on the season, and her 45.9 percent shooting stroke on the floor is second only to 6-4 center Jean Best's 58.8 percent. Kim Gay is a senior who relished her role as a Tiger killer last year, draining a three in the final 30 seconds of a win over Memphis on the Tigers' senior day in FedExForum. She has continued to light it up even with the coaching change, averaging 11.4 ppg and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds a night. Gay and senior guard Allison Spivey are the lone Pirates to play and start in all 14 games with the new system coming in to place. Spivey is a shooter the Tigers have to keep track of, as she leads ECU with 25 triples. Fellow senior Kelly Smith is another three-point shooter Memphis needs to find on the floor, as she had hit 18 threes.
ECU wants to turn its opponents over, and has been highly-successful in that endeavor so far this season, forcing 23.1 opponent turnovers, while committing just 18.9 misfires of its own.
The Pirates are also looking to snap a two-game losing streak after just about upending UTEP on its home floor Thursday night, 89-80.
Conference Road Play
Memphis is 9-6 in its first C-USA road games of the season. That includes a 2-0 mark in road openers for the Tigers under McFerrin (at Rice, at UCF). The one other time Memphis opened its C-USA road slate at East Carolina was in 2004-05. ECU won that game 60-47.
Memphis has won just one time in Greenville, defeating ECU in 2007-08, 61-59. In that game, then-freshman Alex Winchell broke the game's seventh tie with a three point field goal with 35 seconds remaining in the game to put Memphis up 60-57. ECU stormed back with a quick layup from Nicole Days and, following a missed free-throw from Winchell on the Tigers' next trip, ECU flew to the other end and Paris Leonard drew a charge call on LaCoya Terry that also drew a technical foul. Aroha Jennings stepped to the line to hit one of two free-throws to preserve the win, 61-59. Memphis has gone 1-4 against ECU since that game.
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.
This will be Memphis' first C-USA road game of the season and the Tigers' fifth true road game of the season. Memphis is 2-2 in road games, with wins at Indiana and Saint Louis, and losses at Ohio and Kansas. Last year, Memphis was 4-4 in C-USA road games, picking up wins at UCF, Southern Miss, Marshall and UTEP.
Ellis Ties Whitmore
Senior center Savannah Ellis stuffed three-point attempt from the top of the key from Tynikki Crooks to grab her 108th career block. That number moves her in to a tie for second in the Tiger record book with Tiger great Tamika Whitmore. 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).
Dickson Coming Back to Form
Sophomore forward Nicole Dickson was the Tigers' second-leading scorer last season and after missing most of the pre-season due to injury, might finally be getting back to form. In her last three games, she is shooting 22-for-31 (71.0 percent) from the field and 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) from three-point range. Expect C-USA foes to already know about Dickson after her All-Freshman team honors last season, but she will now draw more defensive attention as the Tigers get in to league play. Her 26 points against Marshall was a career-high. She is a Tiger who definitely likes playing in FedExForum as she scored 20 points there in her collegiate opener against Indiana last year.
McFerrin Edging Closer to Win No. 100
The Tigers need six more wins to get Melissa McFerrin to her 100th coaching victory. McFerrin's overall record entering Thursday's league opener against Marshall is 94-105 over the course of six seasons as a head coach.
McFerrin Coaching Game No. 200
In a related note, McFerrin will be coaching her 200th game as a head coach with the game at East Carolina, Sunday.
Carter Looking For 100th Career Steal
Last year, Brittany Carter averaged 1.7 steals per game, finishing the season with 58. Through the first 15 games of this season, she is averaging 2.4 steals a game and need just six more to hit 100 for her career. The addition of Mary Jackson the line up and the defensive pressure put on by Ramses Lonlack, a C-USA All-Defensive team member last year, is allowing Carter to lead Memphis in steals.
Ellis Seven Rebounds From 600
Senior center Savannah Ellis had some big defensive rebounds in the second half of the win over Marshall and is now just seven rebounds shy of her 600th board of the year. She already has 89 rebounds, just two less in the season than she had her entire freshman campaign.
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.