New Season, new Coach and new Players. Everything is pretty much new for the Lady Raiders this year. This will be the first season for Head Coach Candi Whitaker and a number of the players are new starters and many are new to the team. While I love football, I find it is very exciting to finally be talking about Women's Basketball again.
Similar to Seth's recent discussion of how it was hard to write about football the last few years because of the state of the program and the coaching staff, I had a hard time last season finding a way to support Coach Kristy Curry and where the program was going. While I loved the players Mary Bokenkamp, Chynna Brown, Christine Hyde, Casey Morris, Jackie Patterson and Monique Smalls and felt they always played lights they always seemed to run out of steam half-way through conference play and the downward spiral continued in post-season tournaments.
The Lady Raiders under Curry played well in the non-conference games and December tournaments but continually declined as the season progressed once Big12 play started. Last season, I felt that Curry lost the entire team's respect and there was just something missing in the chemistry between the coaching staff and the players. I loved to watch Monique Smalls and Casey Morris play and I felt they always gave it their all, especially Smalls.
Last season should have been Curry's and Texas Tech's highlight, the starters were seniors that had played for four years and they worked together like a smooth running machine. While all of the Big12 teams had to play in the shadow of Brittney Griner, the Lady Raiders should have dominated the rest of the field. Under Curry, Texas Tech went to the WNIT tournament three times and only advanced as far as the third round on two of those trips. The team was invited to the WNCAA tourney twice and lost out in the first round on both occasions.
But today starts out with new expectations for the new Head Coach of Texas Tech's Women's Basketball team, Candi Whitaker. There are many new faces at the United Spirit Center and in the Lady Raider program. Will they gel as a team? Will they succeed in getting the Lady Raiders back to the level seen during the Marsha Sharp Era? How much growing time will they need?
These and many more question will be anwered in the weeks and months ahead.
For now let's get going on the first game of the season, Texas-Pan American comes to the United Spirit center at 4pm CST.
This game will be the 4th time Tech and UTPA have played. The series is in Tech's favor at 2-0 with the last meeting in 1992. Could this be a good sign, the last time these teams played Sheryl Swoopes played.
The Texas-Pan American Head Coach, Larry Tidwell is also in his first season with the Lady Broncs. His career record is 129-66 from his previous position at Lamar.
Texas Tech's Projected Starters:
G - Diamond Lockhart, Freshman, 5-5, 0 PPG
G - Minta Spears , RS Freshman, 5-10, 0 PPG
G - Jasmine Caston Freshman, 5-10, 0 PPG
G - Amber Battle, Junior, 5-9, 0 PPG
F/C - Shauntal Nobles, 6-3, RS Senior 0 PPG
F/C - Kellyn Schneider, 6-5, Sophomore, 0 PPG
Texas-Pan American's Projected Starters:
G - KaeLynn Boyd, Sophomore, 5-5, 0 PPG
G - Tonisha Walker, Junior, 5-6, 0 PPG
F - Jasmine Thompson, Junior, 5-8, 0 PPG
F - Cherrell Price, Junior, 5-11, 0 PPG
C - Brittany Bush Junior, 6-1, 0 PPG
The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest Central (FSCEN) and/or FSPAC (the Austin area reflects FSCEN on TW Ch 432)
To listen to the game go to TexastechTV (http://www.texastech.com/allaccess/)
The game can be heard on the radio 93.7 FM (Lubbock and on the Texas Tech Sports Network (www.TexasTech.com)
Live stats will be available on Gametracker at www.texastech.com/gametracker.