Feb. 8, 2012
Memphis at SMU Notes
Where to Hear it: 91.7 FM in Memphis or on Memphis' All-Access Package at www.gotigersgo.com.
Sunday, Feb.12th vs. Houston -- National Girls & Women in Sports Day --
Free pre-game clinic for all youth eighth grade and under in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Registration begins at noon, clinic begins at 12:30 p.m. Clinic will be taught by members of the University of Memphis volleyball, women's soccer and spirit squads.
Thursday, Feb. 16th at Marshall
Sunday, Feb. 19th at UCF
Thursday, Feb. 23rd vs. UAB
Memphis will be making its first-ever trip to SMU under Melissa McFerrin. In the same scheduling glitch that had Memphis playing at Houston in each of the past three seasons, the Mustangs of SMU have had to venture to the Bluff City for three straight games.
This is the eighth meeting between Memphis and SMU, and the host Mustangs lead the series 5-2. Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak to SMU last year, with a 73-63 victory in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. That win was the lone Tiger victory against SMU since the Mustangs joined Conference USA and was also Memphis' only win in a five-game stretch of games missed by then-junior guard Brittany Carter, who was out with a stress fracture in her foot.
Memphis is hoping to have Carter back for this year's meeting with SMU. The senior missed the loss against Southern Miss last week due to an ankle injury suffered in the final 26 seconds of the East Carolina victory. She was available for limited minutes in the win over UCF on Saturday, finishing with 10 points in 19 minutes.
SMU has an inside-outside combination that will keep the Tiger defense on its toes. Sophomore Akil Simpson is the defending C-USA Player of the Week after averaging 21.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in a 1-1 week for SMU last week. In a loss at Tulane, she had a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year. But Memphis can't just collapse on Simpson in the paint, as guards Alisha Filmore (25 threes) and Samantha Mahnesmith (30 threes) are both proficient three-point shooters. In all, nine different Mustangs have hit a triple this season, a challenge for a Tiger defense that ranks 12th in C-USA only games in three-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to hit 33.3 percent (or 1-in-3 attempts) in the five nine league contests.
Matchup on the Perimeter
The match-up between Memphis and SMU will feature two of Conference USA's top three-point shooting teams. Memphis leads the league with a 32.8 percent stroke from three-point range, while SMU, with nine different players with a triple to their credit, is third with a 30.0 percent clip. Defensively, SMU ranks sixth in three-point field goal defense (26.8) while Memphis ranks 12th with 33.3 percent.
Eradicating the Injury Bug
Memphis made it through most of the non-conference schedule, but as the season as rolled on, the numbers of games lost to injury have stacked up. Memphis lost freshman center Ann Jones four minutes in to the C-USA opener with a knee injury. She missed the next six games before returning in the loss to Southern Miss last Thursday. Thursday, Memphis was also without Brittany Carter, who rolled an ankle in the final 26 seconds of a win at East Carolina the previous Sunday. Carter returned for the UCF game, only to find fellow senior backcourt mate Danay Collier and freshman walk on Alex Prince both out with injuries.
The Tigers rank first in C-USA only stats in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0), steals (13.8) and turnover margin (+6.2). In the individual stats, four different Tigers rank among the top 15 in the league in steals. Senior Ramses Lonlack and sophomore Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir are tied for fifth in the league with 2.6 picks a game, Danay Collier ranks 11th with 2.1 steals and forward Nicole Dickson ranks 15th with 1.9.
More Minutes for the Bench
With the injuries to Carter and Danay Collier, Memphis had to shake up its starting lineup against UCF on Saturday. The result was nine minutes of playing time for freshman guard Jailyn Norris, a first career start for fellow freshman guard Lauren McGraw and a second career start for post KK Harvey.
In her first career start, McGraw jumped off the ball for Memphis, as Memphis won the tip, scored four points, had two assists and two steals in a season-high 20 minutes of playing time.
Norris hit just one shot on the night, but it was a big one. The Tigers had been trading the lead with UCF, and actually trailed 21-19 with 5:15 to play in the first half when Norris released a triple from the corner in front of the UCF bench that pushed Memphis back ahead for good, at 22-21 with 5:15 to play (UCF did tie the score briefly in the second half, but Memphis never trailed after Norris' three).
Abdul-Qaadir Adding to Her Point Guard Role
Tiger coach Melissa McFerrin will admit that she is hard on her point guards. A former point guard at Missouri (and with associate head coach Danielle O'Banion the former point guard at Boston College), the Memphis point guards have their work cut out for them under McFerrin. But Abdul-Qaadir has stepped up in her first full year manning the point for Memphis. She ranks 42nd in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.78), is the team leader in steals (54) while ranking fifth. Memphis has started using Abdul-Qaadir as a weapon to counter double and triple teams in the paint, and the point guard (who was also a prolific scorer in high school) has the results to show for it. She has scored double-digit points in three straight games, averaging 12.0 points per game and tied a season-high with 13 points i the win over UCF. But Abdul-Qaadir is being smart with her shot selection, she is shooting 48.6 percent from the field in the last three games (17-for-35).
Shooting Slump Snapped
Junior Nicole Dickson has a great history at FedExForum. Last year, in three games, she averaged 19.7 ppg there. So the game against UCF being at the NBA venue turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Dickson, who had shot under 30 percent in four straight games heading in to Saturday's game with UCF. Dickson scorched the FedExForum nets, shooting 7-for-11 (63.6 percent) and finishing with 17 points, including 2-for-4 shooting from three-point range. Dickson also tied a career-high with three blocks.
Dickson may be the next Tiger to 1,000 career points. The 17 points against UCF pushed her past 900 for her career and she now needs 87 more points for her 1,000th point. With at least eight games remaining in the season, Dickson would need to average 10.9 ppg to get to 1,000 points this year, joining 1,000 point teammates Brittany Carter and Ramses Lonlack.
The only time a Memphis team had three 1,000 point scorers on the same roster was the 1995-96 season (LaTonya Johnson, Keeta Matthews, Kitty Allen).
Lee's Double-Digit Streak Snapped
As Jasmine Lee has drawn more attention around the league, her scoring has slipped a bit. After posting 20-plus points in four of the first eight C-USA games, Lee averaged just 9.5 points per game last week as the Tigers split a pair of league contests. Against USM, Lee had three and four defenders and finished shooting 2-for-8 from the field, but used a 6-for-9 stint at the free-throw line to still hit double-digits, finishing with 10 points. With the game plan there for other teams to follow, UCF also gave Lee a lot of attention in the paint, and she shot slightly better (4-for-9), but had just two trips to the free-throw line and finished with nine points, snapping her 10-game double-digit scoring streak.
Front Line of Dickson and Lee Looking for 500 Rebound Marks
Junior forward Nicole Dickson and senior Jasmine Lee passed benchmark point totals in the win over Tulane, and are both now eyeing the 500 rebound mark. Only 19 other players in Memphis history have had over 500 career rebounds, including teammate Ramses Lonlack (581).
1. Linda Street 1,452
2. Regina Street 1,277
3. Tamika Whitmore 952
4. Keeta Matthews 926
5. Kim Duppins 881
6. Ashley Thornton 713
7. LaTonya Johnson 686
8. Melissa Abraham 685
9. Savannah Ellis 670
Diane Gray 670
11. Heather Newlon 646
12. Raven Rogers 624
13. Wanda Dillard 611
14. Ramses Lonlack 590
15. Shannon Hamp 567
16. Kitty Allen 559
17. Michelle Winrow 548
18. Vera Webb 547
19. LaShanya Garner 524
Jasmine Lee 477
Nicole Dickson 475
The is the 40th season that women's basketball has been a varsity sport at Memphis. It's been a bitter sweet celebration, as Elma Roane, the women's athletic director who returned women's sports to varsity status at the university, passed away in September at the age of 93. The Tigers entered the 2011-12 season just 20 wins away from the 700th win in program history. The program's current record heading in to the SMU game is 697-508.
In school history, 18 Tigers' teams have won 20 or more games. In the last 10 years, Memphis has just three 20-win seasons, but two of them are the back-to-back seasons under McFerrin.
Saint Louis (8-15 overall, 2-6 Atlantic 10): Got a jumper from Jenna Mueller with 1.1 seconds for a 56-55 win over Duquesne; hosts Temple, Wednesday.
Belmont (9-14, 8-4 A-Sun): Swept the Battle of the Boulevard with a 60-43 win over Lipscomb; plays at Stetson, Thursday.
Illinois (8-16, 2-9 Big 10): Lost at No. 15 Purdue, 77-66; hosts Ohio State, Thursday.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-22, 0-11 SWAC): Still winless in 2011-12; plays at Southern, Saturday.
Southeast Louisiana (7-14, 2-6 Southland): Lost to San Houston State, 67-46; hosts UT San Antonio, Wednesday.
UT Arlington (3-16, 1-6 Southland): Nipped by Central Arkansas, 53-51; hosts Sam Houston State, Wednesday.
Tennessee State (8-17, 4-9 Ohio Valley): Lost at Murray State, 66-56; hosts Tennessee Tech, Saturday.
UT Martin (16-8, 10-1 Ohio Valley): Made short work of Jacksonville State, 99-67; hosts OVC leading Eastern Illinois, Saturday.
UALR (12-11, 7-3 Sun Belt): Came back from 14 down to defeat UALR, 52-46; plays at UL Lafayette, Wednesday.
Louisiana Tech (11-11, 4-3 WAC): Fell to league-leading Fresno State, 61-59; plays at Utah State, Thursday.
St. John's (15-8, 7-3 BIG EAST): Held host Seton Hall to just 26 points in the game in a 53-26 win; plays USF, Wednesday.
Missouri (10-11, 0-10 Big 12): Lost at Texas Tech, 76-49; hosts Iowa State, Wednesday.
Seton Hall (7-17, 0-10 BIG EAST): Lost 55-25 to St. John's; plays at No. 13 Georgetown, Wednesday.