March 17, 2010
Game Notes in PDF Format
Click here to listen to Coach Melissa McFerrin's thoughts heading in to the WBI match-up with UMKC.
The University of Memphis women's basketball team (17-13) will host UMKC (16-15) in the first round of the inaugural Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI), Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. The 16 team tournament is an opportunity for a handful of teams to continue their respective seasons, and the Tigers and the Kangaroos will be a match-up of the No. 1 (Memphis) vs. No. 8 (UMKC) seeds on the West side of the bracket.
UMKC is coming in to the Thursday match-up for their first-ever post season appearance. The Kangaroos, guided by fourth year head coach Candace Whitaker. The Kangaroos have leaned on senior guard Chazny Morris this season to put points on the board. The senior has responded, ranking third in The Summit League with her 16.5 ppg average. Morris became UMKC's all-time leading scorer in December, and is currently at the 1,797 career point mark. She also ranks seventh in The Summit League (formerly called the Mid-Continent Conference) scoring career history. With six other players averaging six or more points a game, UMKC set a school record with 12 league victories this season, and will look to cap an impressive record-breaking season by advancing to the second round of their first-ever post-season tournament.
The Tigers may have a little more school history in post season play, but it has been since the 2003-04 season that Memphis has played in a post-season tournament, so the current crop of Tigers are learning how to prepare for and play in the month of March.
Memphis was surging in the league standings when an elbow injury to starting point guard LaToya Bullard cost the Tigers their point guard for the final three regular season games. Memphis managed to get one win even without Bullard to secure a first round bye in the C-USA tournament, but even with Bullard back for the quarterfinal match-up, the Tigers could not match up inside with the ECU posts, suffering a 73-66 upset to the No. 5 seeded Pirates, and extending the Tigers losing streak to three games, it longest of the season.
But the team has had a week to put it behind them and focus on the task at hand. The Thursday night game can be heard in the Memphis area on WUMR, 91.7 FM and fans can watch live streaming video as part of the Tigers' All-Access package. Tickets are just $7 for chair back seating and $5 for bleacher seating for the game.
First Post Season Appearance for Memphis Since 2003-04
The Tigers are making their first post-season appearance since the 2003-04 season, when Memphis advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Memphis opened that tournament with a win at home against Tulsa, a team that would join Conference USA a year later, then fell on the road at Western Kentucky. In the program's 35-year history, Memphis has appeared in 12 post-season tournaments, appearing in the NCAA tournament seven times, the WNIT tournament four times and a 1982-83 appearance in the National Women's Invitational. The deepest any Tiger squad has gone in any post season tournament was a WNIT Final Four appearance in 1998-99.
<The Series History
This is the fifth meeting between Memphis and UMKC and the Tigers lead the overall series, 4-0. The first two meetings between Memphis and UMKC were in the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons (when the Tigers were called Memphis State), then the two teams did not face off until the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. The last two meetings gave then-Tiger Lauren Jackson an opportunity to return to her home area of Kansas City in her senior season and to help Memphis to a 71-43 victory on the road.
Better Keep it Down
UMKC is a team that prefers to push the score up. The Kangaroos are 8-4 when they score more than 70 points in a game, including a 76-75 overtime win in The Summit League conference tournament last weekend.
I Know You
The Kangaroos and the Tigers have had one common opponent this season. UMKC went on the road and narrowly missed upending C-USA member Tulsa, falling 62-57. Memphis opened its league season against Tulsa, winning 77-72.
The other thing the Tigers have in common is Tiger assistant coach Brett Schneider. Schneider was an associate head coach at UMKC last season. This is the second time this season that Schneider has faced a team where he formerly was a member of the coaching staff. The first time was a match-up at Missouri in Memphis' third game of the season.
Carter Grabs All-Conference Nod
Sophomore guard Brittany Carter earned an honor that Memphis has not had in a while. The 5-9 sophomore was voted to the Conference USA First Team in a vote of the league coaches, SIDs and media representatives, Saturday. Carter becomes just the fourth Tiger in school history to earn a first team nod from C-USA and is the first to earn the honor since Tiffany Adkins was a first teamer in 2001. Carter led the conference in scoring with 18.4 ppg and added 5.9 rebounds a game.
Dickson Named to All-Freshman Team
Freshman forward Nicole Dickson has been a key component to the year that Memphis has put together, tied for second on the team with 9.1 ppg and adding 20 three-point field goals in her first collegiate season. The offensive prowess of the freshman helped her earn a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team that was announced Sunday. She is the first Tiger freshman since 2001 to be voted to the conference's top five freshman team (Princess Swilley was the last in 2001) and is just the fourth Tiger in school history to be named to the C-USA All-Freshman squad (Tamika Whitmore, 1996; Shannon Hamp, 2000; Princess Swilley, 2001).
Lonlack Named to All-Defensive Team
One of the things that irked Melissa McFerrin at the end of last season was finding that then-freshman Ramses Lonlack had not earned a spot on the league's All-Defensive team. She will have no such worry this year, as Lonlack, who leads the league with 3.4 steals per game, was voted to the C-USA All-Defensive Team. This is just the fourth season C-USA has voted for an all-defensive team, and Lonlack becomes Memphis' first all-defensive team honoree. Lonlack, in just her second season at Memphis, already has 145 steals over 59 career games, and has been a Tiger starter in 55 of those 59 games.
Lots of Time for the Bench Lately
The Tiger bench got a little more work than normal in the final three games of the regular season. Against Marshall, Memphis was without starters LaToya Bullard and Savannah Ellis and reserve post Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins. But the plucky Tiger roster responded with a 62-53 victory that secured a first round bye for Memphis. Ellis returned to play against East Carolina, although she did not start, but both Bullard and Luellen-Higgins missed the last three games of the regular season. Luellen-Higgins has actually missed the last five games of the regular season due to a concussion.
Winchell Moving Toward Career Top Five in Triples
Junior guard Alex Winchell needs just one more triple to move in to the career top five at Memphis. With her 59 triples this year, she has moved to sixth all-time with 136 threes, needing just one more to tie Tamika Butler's (2002-2006) mark of 137. Winchell then has a ways to go to move up to fourth, where Kitty Allen (1993-1997) sits with 152 threes.
Winchell's 59 triples so far this year ties former teammate Paris Leonard's mark from last season as the third-best single season mark in school history. The record of 64 threes in a season is currently shared by LaTonya Johnson (1995-96) and Devin Necaise (2006-07).
Winchell is rolling toward her 700th career point, with 651 points heading in to the conference tournament.
Lonlack Passes 500 Point Mark
Sophomore Ramses Lonlack is the team's leading defender on the perimeter, but she is also a force to be reckoned with offensively, thanks to a number of her 149 career steals going for layups on the other end. Against East Carolina, Lonlack scored nine points, snapping a three-game double-digit scoring streak that she had going,but those nine points were enough to push Lonlack past the 500 point mark in her second season as a Tiger.
Protect Your Pocket
Memphis relies on ball pressure to get out in transition, and the Tiger guards have developed a nose for tipping the ball loose if you take your eye off them. Ramses Lonlack ranks 24th in the country with 2.8 steals a game, while LaToya Bullard is 127th with 2.1 steals a night. And freshman Chatia Kelsey will also give the opposing team's ball-handler fits. Kelsey had a career-high three steals in the loss to ECU in the league tournament, improving her season total to 20 picks in an average 11.6 minutes of play.
Carter Pushing Toward Single Season Top 10 Scoring Mark
Sophomore Brittany Carter is all of 30 games in to her Memphis career and her 29 points in the quarterfinal round of the C-USA tournament pushed her to 564 for the season, and for her young Tiger career. She is the 13th Tiger to score 500 or more points in a career, but is the first Tiger since Victoria Crawford (2003-04) to score 500 or more points in a single season. Memphis has had a player score 500 or more points in a season just 25 times. Carter needs 13 points in Thursday night's game to move in to the single season top 10 in scoring. The last time a Memphis sophomore scored enough points to be listed in the single season top 10 was Tamika Whitmore in 1996-97. Whitmore just completed her 11th season in the WNBA.
Heading in to the Post Season with Our Longest Losing Streak of the Season
It's not often you have a team heading to the post season on its longest losing streak of the season. Memphis was without its starting point guard in the last three regular season games, getting LaToya Bullard back in time for the C-USA tournament quarterfinal game. The Tigers could not handle the inside game of East Carolina, falling to 0-3 against the Pirates on the season, and dropping their third straight game for the first time this season. Memphis had not lost more than two consecutive games all season before the tourney loss and is looking to snap their skid by riding a big eight-game home winning streak in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse coming in to Thursday night's match-up.
Tiger Posts Out-Rebounded by Guards Against ECU
It's probably not surprising in a game that featured 31 three-point field goal attempts, but the Tiger posts were out-rebounded by the Tiger guards 22-11 against ECU. Starting point guard LaToya Bullard and fellow guard Ramses Lonlack led Memphis with six rebounds apiece in the loss to ECU, while Brittany Carter and Chatia Kelsey each had five rebounds. The Tiger starting posts combined for six rebounds and the two posts off the bench had five rebounds in the loss.
Bench on the Short End of ECU Loss
The last time Memphis faced ECU in the regular season, the Pirates got 51 points off their bench. It's going to be tough to out-score that kind of production from the bench. And in the third match-up with the two teams, ECU out-scored the Tiger bench again, 32-4. Outside of Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins' four points, the entire Tiger bench was a combined 0-for-9 from the field in the loss to an ECU squad that had seven different players score six or more points. Junior guard Alex Winchell was held scoreless for just the third time this season, as she shot 0-for-5 from three point range and didn't attempt a shot any closer in the game while Memphis was trying to come from behind. In her 90 career games, Winchell has been held scoreless just six times.