Women's Basketball Picked to Win C-USA
Oct. 6, 2011
DALLAS - -
Coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons and post-season berths, the University of Memphis women's basketball team was picked as the pre-season favorite to win the Conference USA crown in a poll of league coaches announced Thursday. Senior guard Brittany Carter was named the pre-season Player of the Year in the poll, and fellow senior Jasmine Lee was named to the pre-season all-conference team.
This is just the second time in Memphis history that the Tigers have been pre-season picks to win Conference USA. The last team to earn the same honor was the 1997 squad that won the regular season title and advanced to the NCAA tournament, finishing with a 22-7 overall mark.
"When you get that vote among your peers (the league coaches), it means something," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "But it also comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. So while we're going to enjoy that, we're also going to handle it the way it should be handled. Our players have earned it, but largely, that honor is based on what we we've done in the past and what we're projected to do. We still have to go out and actually do it, and that's a bigger step than what most people realize. This race will not be settled until March, and that is the time we have to shoot for. Being preseason number one in October is not our goal, our goal is to be number one in March. But we've been building to this point for three and a half years now, so it's not a big surprise, but it is a big responsibility."
Carter, who is repeating pre-season all-conference honors from last year, is a two-time, first team all-conference honoree who averaged 13.8 ppg last year. The senior guard battled a foot injury last season, missing five conference contests, but returned at the C-USA championships to help Memphis to its first semifinals appearance since 1997-98. In the C-USA run, Carter passed the 1,000 career point mark in just her 60th career game in the blue and gray, the third-fastest Tiger to 1,000 points ever (behind LaTonya Johnson and Keeta Matthews).
"Even going through last year at not 100 percent healthy, she was on the first team," McFerrin said. "I think there were times last year when she wasn't ready to take on all that responsibility, but I think this year, she is ready and willing for this team."
Carter becomes the first Tiger to earn pre-season Player of the Year honors from Conference USA since Tamika Whitmore was so honored prior to the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Only Carter, Whitmore and LaTonya Johnson have been named to multiple pre-season All-Conference USA squads.
The Tigers also had a second player on the pre-season all-conference squad. Senior post Jasmine Lee earned a pre-season all-conference nod after leading Memphis last season in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and finishing second in points per game (12.4). Lee also added 21 steals on the season and shot 49.5 percent from the field. Lee's addition to the pre-season all-conference team means Memphis has two honorees on the squad for the first time since 1998 when Whitmore and Johnson were named to the squad. That 1998 squad was the last Memphis team to make the NCAA field, finishing the season with a 22-8 record.
"Jasmine spent last year trying to get consistent, to bring an eight or nine or ten in effort level all the time. Last year early on, we had some games where she was not at that level and this year, we need her to show up every day and be the same player in games that we see on the practice court. We've posed that challenge to her and I think she is ready for it."
The women's basketball team has already started its 20-hour per week practice schedule, a rule change that just took affect this year. Head Coach Melissa McFerrin will attend Conference USA Media Day in Dallas on Tuesday, Oct. 11th, then speaks at the Tiger Scholarship Fund's Inside Scoop Luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 12th. Fans will get their first full look at that team on Friday, October 14th, as the women's team participates in the Memphis Madness festivities in FedExForum. Doors open at FedExForum at 5:30 p.m. and fans can sit and watch an hour and a half of women's basketball practice before the team is introduced at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Memphis opens its 2011-12 season with an exhibition game at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse against Arkansas-Monticello at 2 p.m. on November 6th. The Tigers' first regular season game will be Friday, November 11, at 5 p.m. against Saint Louis University. Season tickets for the entire 17-game home slate are now on sale for as little as $60. A family four-pack for two adults and two children is available for just $125, which averages out to just a little over $7.00 a game for an entire family of four to watch the pre-season favorites on their home floors.
The Tigers will also host the 2012 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship, Mar. 7-10th. The first two rounds will be played at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse and the semifinal and finals will be played at FedExForum.
2011-2012 C-USA Women's Basketball Preseason Poll 1. Memphis 2. Rice 3. UCF 4. Tulane UTEP 6. UAB 7. Houston 8. SMU 9. Southern Miss 10. East Carolina 11. Tulsa 12. Marshall