TIPPING IT OFF: The Arkansas State University women's basketball team closes out the 2009-10 exhibition season Tuesday, Nov. 10 when the Red Wolves host the Lady Muleriders of Southern Arkansas University. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the ASU Convocation Center. The Red Wolves opened their exhibition season Nov. 3 with a 95-49 victory over Christian Brothers, while SAU has yet to play a game this season. The game may be heard on KWHF 95.9 FM "The Wolf" and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats will also be available at AStateRedWolves.com.
THE SEASON: The Red Wolves open the 36th season of ASU women's basketball Nov. 13 when Arkansas State travels to Omaha, Neb. to take on the Creighton Bluejays. The ASU-Creighton matchup is the first of 29 regular-season games on the 2009-10 schedule, 14 of which are at the Convocation Center. The 2009-10 season will be the second year in a row that ASU has taken on Creighton to open the season. Last year, the Red Wolves posted a 73-56 victory over the Bluejays in the Nov. 14 season opener at the ASU Convocation Center.
THE SAU SERIES: Southern Arkansas holds a 9-7 advantage in regular-series meetings between the two teams. The teams last met during the 1981-82 season, with ASU winning twice that year. Arkansas State posted a 63-55 victory in Jonesboro before edging the Lady Muleriders 61-59 in Magnolia later in the season. Arkansas State won the last four regular-season meetings between the two teams.
SCOUTING THE LADY MULERIDERS: Four of the five projected starters for Southern Arkansas saw extensive playing time a year ago. Guards Goldie White and Lynzie Williams started all 27 games for the Muleriders a year ago, averaging 16.8 and 6.9 points, respectively. Center Kmaria Hobbs started in 24 games and averaged 14.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per outing. Forward Shardae Thompson averaged 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds a year ago, drawing the start in 26 of the Lady Muleriders' 27 games. As a team, SAU shot .707 from the free throw line, with the four returning starters combining to hit .743 from the charity stripe. Williams and White led the team from beyond the three-point arc a year ago, with Williams connecting on 39 three-pointers and White adding 30 more. Williams led the Lady Muleriders with 94 assists and was second on the team in steals with 46, just behind White's team-leading 53.
SBC HONORS: Arkansas State senior Ebonie Jefferson (Laurel, Miss.) has been named preseason third-team All-Sun Belt Conference, and the Red Wolves are picked third in the Sun Belt West Division preseason poll as voted on by the league's 13 head coaches, the conference office announced Oct. 20.
"I expect Ebonie to play at an all-conference level this season," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "I can't imagine that there is a tougher competitor or a harder worker in the league. I am so proud of how far Ebonie has come during her career, and I look forward to her continued improvement this season."
Jefferson scored in double figures in 14 of ASU's last 17 games a year ago, had 19 double-figure games on the season and led ASU in scoring with an 11.8 points-per-game average, a figure that climbed to 13.0 points-per-game in Sun Belt Conference play.
The Red Wolves return three of their top four scorers and four of the top five rebounders from last year's team that finished 16-14.
LAST TIME OUT: JONESBORO, Ark. (11-03-2009) - Junior Shay Scott scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures as the Arkansas State Red Wolves opened their exhibition season with a 95-49 victory over the Christian Brothers Lady Buccaneers Tuesday night at the ASU Convocation Center.
Sophomore Meghan Lewis drained four three-pointers to finish with 15 points, senior Ebonie Jefferson hit six-of-10 from the floor to chalk up 14 points and sophomore NeNe Hurst filled out the box score with 12 points, a team-high eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
The Red Wolves had 20 steals on the night and scored 45 points off of the Lady Bucs' turnovers.
"Obviously I am pleased, and with any exhibition game there are a lot of things we have to work on, but that is one of the better first exhibition games we have been a part of," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "Usually it takes a while for a team to get going but we got going pretty early in this one. A lot of it started with our defense and our pressure. We created a lot of turnovers which helped us to get out in transition, and I am really pleased with how we did tonight."
The Red Wolves used a pair of baskets from Scott and a three-pointer from Lewis to jump out to a 7-0 lead, and the Lady Buccaneers never threatened. Arkansas State led 52-20 at the half behind 7-of-7 shooting from the floor from Scott.
Arkansas State built a 40-point lead at 66-26 on a layup from Hurst with 14:28 remaining in the game and led by as many as 49, with all 13 players on the roster seeing action in the game.
In addition to the double-figure scoring efforts from Scott, Lewis, Jefferson and Hurst, the Red Wolves also got nine points from freshman Andi Watson, eight from freshman Quinishia McDowell and six each from senior Lyndsay Schlup and sophomore Linsay Henke. Junior Breaunna Ellison added four points, and freshman LaWanda Clayborn closed out the ASU scoring with three points.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP: In an effort to help acclimate Arkansas State's international students to life in the United States, the ASU women's basketball program began a partnership with the university's international community by holding a basketball clinic Sunday evening at the ASU Convocation Center.
Over 80 international students were on hand as the team members and coaching staff introduced themselves and introduced the students to Red Wolves women's basketball. The students joined the team on the court for drills and fundamental instruction, then enjoyed a pizza party to wrap up the night's activities.
"This is a semester-long project that got underway with the clinic last night," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "We wanted to let our international students know how much we appreciate them and to encourage them to be more involved with all of the activities on campus. We also wanted to increase their awareness of athletics here at Arkansas State, introduce them to the Convocation Center and allow them to get to know our team."
Arkansas State's players will partner with an international student throughout the semester, meeting with the student for at least an hour each week to help them become familiar with Arkansas State and ease their transition to life in the United States.
The women's basketball team will salute ASU's international students at the Nov. 18 home opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Next week's game has been designated as "International Students Night" at the Convocation Center.
THE RED WOLVES AT HOME: Over the last five years, the ASU women's basketball program boasts a winning percentage of .811 at the ASU Convocation Center. The Red Wolves are 208-62 (.770) all-time at the Convocation Center and 97-39 (.713) under head coach Brian Boyer.
SEASON OUTLOOK: An interesting mix of veterans and newcomers will take the floor for Arkansas State when the Red Wolves tip off the 2009-10 season Nov. 13 at Creighton. The Red Wolves return three of their top four scorers and four of the top five rebounders from last year's team that finished 16-14, but only six players on the roster have ever taken the court in an Arkansas State uniform. Seven new faces will join the veterans, and head coach Brian Boyer is excited about the Red Wolves' potential as the season unfolds.
"It's been a great team to work with," said Boyer when asked about workouts leading up to his 11th season at ASU. "I like their discipline, work ethic and chemistry. The challenge for us is getting the mix together because we are split half-and-half with returners and newcomers. Fortunately the returners are doing a good job of setting a positive tone, working hard and giving us good leadership."
The returners are led by a pair of seniors who are both seasoned veterans after seeing considerable playing time over the last three years. Senior guard Ebonie Jefferson (5'9") returns after leading the Red Wolves in scoring (11.8 ppg) and field goal percentage (.466) a year ago. Jefferson started in 27 of 29 games that she played in a year ago and logged 46 steals - second best on the team and tops among returners.
"Last year Ebonie played at an all-conference level, and I'll be disappointed if we don't get that out of her this year," said Boyer. "I think she can play at that level and has put herself into being an all-conference candidate because of her toughness and work ethic."
Senior forward Lyndsay Schlup (6'2") started in 11 of ASU's games a year ago, averaging 4.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Schlup averaged over 18 minutes per game last season, and her rebounding numbers were third-best on the team. With 41 blocked shots in her career, Schlup is at No. 9 in the ASU record books heading into her senior season.
"If there was an all-conference role-player team, Lyndsay would be on that team," said Boyer. "She's a player that won't lead us in scoring or stat categories, but is capable of leading the team in minutes played. She is that valuable and does everything well. She scores decently, rebounds well, defends great, moves the ball well and is going to play hard all the time."
One of only two juniors on the team, and the only junior with playing experience, Shay Scott (6'2") started all 30 games a year ago at forward for the Red Wolves. Scott was a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection a year ago after an outstanding freshman season and led ASU in rebounding at 6.7 boards per game. She was third in scoring at 9.4 points per outing, and her 27 blocked shots represent the ninth-best total ever at Arkansas State in a single season. With 46 career blocked shots, Scott enters her junior season already at No. 8 in the ASU record books.
"We are going to lean heavily on Shay this year," Boyer said. "She had a stellar freshman season and was a little bit unknown. Her numbers as a sophomore didn't increase a ton because she drew every double-team. She became the focal point of opponents' defenses. I think this year she is going to more capable of handling that role."
Junior guard/forward Breaunna Ellison (5'9") joins the Red Wolves after transferring from Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas where she averaged 16 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Lady Bearcats last season.
"Bre fits well with this team," said Boyer. "I expect her to be a very good defender. She is very good out in the open court and her strength is a lot like Ebonie Jefferson and will allow her to rebound and get to the basket."
Guard NeNe Hurst (5'10") leads a trio of sophomores who all saw playing time last year as freshmen. Hurst was fourth on the team in scoring a year ago and is the Red Wolves' top returning threat from beyond the three-point arc. Hurst averaged 8.9 points per game last year, hitting 32 three-pointers along the way while shooting .348 outside the three-point line.
"I'll be shocked if NeNe is not playing at the all-conference level this year," said Boyer. "She came in with high expectations as a freshman but went out with a knee injury. I thought she did a great job for us last year, but I don't think she had the confidence on that leg as she did prior to the injury. We are going to have to use her at the point guard or shooting guard spot. We need for her to have a huge year for us."
Guard Meghan Lewis (5'8") played in six games as a true freshman but could emerge as a key player for ASU in her second season.
"If we had to give a most improved player award it would go to Meghan," said Boyer. "Last year as a freshman she was a very good shooter, but she has really worked hard this offseason to improve herself athletically. She is going to be more capable defensively and putting the ball on the floor."
At 6'4", center Linsay Henke is the tallest player on the ASU roster. Henke saw action in 12 games a year ago before going down with a broken foot.
"I was disappointed last year losing Linsay, but I've been pleased this year because I thought it would take her longer to get back than it has," said Boyer. "It looks like she hasn't appeared to miss a beat as her conditioning has gotten better. She is as athletic as any 6-4 player in this league, and we'll try to utilize that to our advantage. I think we'll see the best impact from her defensively and in rebounding."
Redshirt freshman guard Quinishia McDowell (5'8") has been in the ASU program for a year is expected to make a quick impact after sitting out last season with an injury.
"'Q' is going to be an immediate player for us this year either starting or coming off the bench," said Boyer. "She gives us great energy, is a great communicator on the court and I think she will excel on the defensive end."
Five true freshmen fill out the remainder of the ASU roster, and all are expected to see the court during their first season at Arkansas State.
Guard/forward Jasmine Taylor (5'10") comes to ASU after averaging 14 points and six rebounds last year at Memphis Central.
"Jasmine is a winner," said Boyer. "She lost very few games in her high school career. Very few players come into a D1 program as fundamentally sound and as skilled as she is."
Guard Shatara Stone (5'9") joins the Red Wolves after finishing as the all-time leading scorer in girls or boys basketball at Union Christian in Ft. Smith. Stone averaged 24.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and five assists last season with the Lady Eagles, hitting 73 percent from the free throw line and 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
"Shatara is very athletic and can really shoot the ball," said Boyer. "She has really good range and I'm more and more pleased with how athletically she fits in at this level. She attacks the basket well and once she learns the system she'll be a good defender too."
Forward Jessica Brown (6'1") averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Memphis Booker T. Washington last season, shooting over 53 percent from the floor with the ability to connect from three-point range.
"Jessica is a very skilled post player," said Boyer. "Her biggest strength is her passing ability. She can really see the floor, is a very good decision maker and can shoot the three really well too."
Guard LaWanda Clayborn (5'9") averaged 16.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, four assists and two steals a year ago at Memphis Melrose.
"LaWanda is as good as an athlete you'll find in this league," said Boyer. "She can really run and really jump. She is one of those guards that can shoot the three, she can shoot the pull up jumper, and she can take it to the hole. She's really got the total package offensively."
Guard Andi Watson (5'8") only needed to cross town to join the ASU program. A standout last year at Nettleton High School in Jonesboro, Watson averaged 17 points, 8.4 rebounds and two steals during her senior season.
"Andi is very strong and very athletic," said Boyer. "Her perimeter skills are better than most people gave her credit for coming out of high school. Initially, I think she will excel for us defensively. She can really defend and will be able to rebound, too."
Fourteen home games, including regional matchups with Louisiana Tech, Missouri State and Southern Illinois, along with nine home Sun Belt Conference games highlight the 2009-10 schedule.
A pair of exhibition games are also on the home slate before the regular season gets underway Nov. 13 when the Red Wolves travel to Omaha, Neb. to take on the Creighton Bluejays. Following the season-opener at Creighton, ASU's road trip will continue to Kansas State, where ASU will take on the Wildcats in a Nov. 16 matchup. Both of ASU's opponents on the season-opening road swing participated in post-season play a year ago, with Creighton playing in the Women's National Invitation Tournament and Kansas State advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.
"The opening weekend when we go to Creighton and to Kansas State will be as tough of a weekend as our program has had in a long time," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "Those are two challenging games on the road that will be a great early gauge for this team."
The Red Wolves' home opener is scheduled for Nov. 18 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, followed by a trip to South Orange, N.J. for the Seton Hall Classic. Arkansas State will take on Virginia Commonwealth in the opening round of the SHU Classic, then face Seton Hall or Morgan State in the second round.
"The tournament at Seton Hall will be a great trip for the team," said Boyer. "It will be a great experience and on top of that, it is a great tournament and one where we hope to be able to take on a Big East team in the championship game."
Following the Seton Hall Classic, the Red Wolves will return home for regional matchups against Louisiana Tech and Missouri State, taking on the Lady Techsters Nov. 24 and the Lady Bears Nov. 27.
"Those are two programs that when you look at women's basketball through the years, both of those teams have as good a tradition as there is in this area," said Boyer. "Missouri State is a contest where we have continued to renew that contract and certainly hope to in the future, and Louisiana Tech is a series that we are excited to start back again after being off a few years."
After road trips to St. Louis and Northern Arizona, the Red Wolves return to Jonesboro to face Texas-Arlington Dec. 15 before hosting Arkansas-Little Rock Dec. 19 to open Sun Belt Conference play. The final non-conference game is scheduled for Dec. 22 at home against Southern Illinois.
"St. Louis is another natural non-conference opponent for us," continued Boyer. "We have some players from that area and it is a good opportunity to get them home so that they can play in front of their families. It is also another chance for our program to show off against another good women's basketball league in the Atlantic 10, which has become a very strong conference. It is another opportunity for us to represent the Sun Belt. We are starting a series with UT-Arlington and fans may not be aware of how good they have been in the past. They are a team that has been very, very successful in past years, and we are excited to get them at home. Southern Illinois is a series that we started last year and has the potential to be a very good regional rivalry."
The Red Wolves will also host North Texas, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Lafayette, Denver, Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky, New Orleans and Troy in Sun Belt Conference matchups at the ASU Convocation Center.
"Our non-conference schedule exposes us to things that will prepare us for Sun Belt Conference play," said Boyer. "As a whole, this has the makings for one of the stronger years in the Sun Belt in quite some time. When you look across the league at the number of all-conference players returning, this has a chance to be a really strong year in the Sun Belt."
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament is scheduled for March 6-9 at Summit Arena in Hot Springs. In a departure from the past three seasons, all tournament games will now be played in Hot Springs, eliminating the need for on-campus, first-round games.
"This is one of those teams as a coach I'm looking forward to coaching," said Boyer. "Number one, they have the work ethic and the drive you want as a coach. It's going to be fun to watch these young players grow up and watch the mix come together as the season goes on. By no means do I expect us to be at the top of our game in November or even December, but I do think this is a team that will continually get better as the year goes on. The question mark with this team is how soon things will start to click for us. It's going to be a lot of fun to coach this group and get this mix to work together.
HEAD COACH BRIAN BOYER: Through 10 seasons as head coach at Arkansas State University, Brian Boyer's name has become synonymous with success and the women's basketball program. Entering his 11th season as head coach at ASU, Boyer has climbed to second place on the ASU career win chart with a record of 168-135. Under Boyer's guidance, Arkansas State has reached the Women's National Invitation Tournament four times, including three of the past six seasons. He led the Red Wolves to the 2003-04 Sun Belt East Division Championship, the program has produced 17 All-Sun Belt Conference players with Boyer at the helm and Boyer was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year following the 2003-04, and 2004-05 seasons. His 81 career Sun Belt Conference victories rank him fifth all-time in career conference wins.
Boyer directed the Red Wolves to yet another winning season as he wrapped up his first decade as the program's head coach in 2008-09. The Red Wolves finished the season at 16-14, posting victories over post-season participants Creighton and Arkansas-Little Rock along the way.
Although the 2007-08 season was expected by many to be a rebuilding year, Boyer put forth what was arguably one of his finest coaching performances, molding a group of unheralded players into a team that produced yet another 20-win season at Arkansas State. Faced with the task of replacing three 1,000-point scorers, including the program's all time leading shot blocker and rebounder, along with the all-time assists leader, Boyer directed Arkansas State to a 20-12 record. ASU won a record 13 conference games during the 2007-08 season, and reached the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the 13th time in 16 tries. The Red Wolves finished the season with the distinction of being the only Division I program in the country with a winning record that did not have a single player who averaged double figure scoring.
Arkansas State posted victories over Brigham Young and Alabama early in the season, earning the win over the Crimson Tide on the road in Tuscaloosa. The Red Wolves finished 2007 with a 6-7 record, but went on a tear in the new year, closing out the season with a 14-5 finish and a run to the semifinals of the SBC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
Like always, the 2007-08 team was especially tough at home, posting a 13-2 record at the ASU Convocation Center that included a 9-0 record against Sun Belt Conference opponents.
In the 2006-07 season the Red Wolves finished 21-13, advanced to the second round of the WNIT before falling to eventual tournament runner-up Wisconsin, and continued to build on their already-impressive home record with a 14-2 mark at the ASU Convocation Center. The Red Wolves posted home victories over NCAA Tournament participants Oklahoma State and Louisiana-Lafayette, Southeastern Conference member Alabama and WNIT participants South Dakota State and Murray State. In all, 14 of the Red Wolves' 34 games during the 2006-07 season were against teams that played in the NCAA or WNIT tournaments. The 2006-07 Red Wolves also reached the 10-victory milestone quicker than any other team in ASU history, picking up their 10th win of the season Jan. 3, 2007, and their 21-win total equaled the highest in Boyer's eight seasons.
Under Boyer's guidance, several individual records fell during the 2006-07 season as well. Seniors Adrianne Davie and Rudy Sims rewrote the Red Wolves record books, with Davie shattering the career blocked shots record with 132 and the career rebounding record with 1,147. Sims set a new mark in career assists with 548 and became the first ASU player in over a decade to record a triple-double when she scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in a 65-58 overtime victory at Louisiana-Lafayette. Davie was named All-Sun Belt Conference for the fourth straight season, while Sims earned the honor for the third straight year. Senior Ali Carter became the 16th member of the career 1,000-point club.
During the 2005-06 season, the Red Wolves posted a 15-15 overall record against a schedule that included nine NCAA Tournament teams, and three that participated in the WNIT. A-State advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, and Davie earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors for the third straight season. Davie also joined the ASU 1,000-point club, along with Sims and senior Amber Abraham.
In the 2004-05 season, ASU put together a program-best 10-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak, part of an 11-game win streak that was the fourth longest in Red Wolves history. The Red Wolves finished the season 21-11 overall and in second place in the Sun Belt East Division at 11-3, giving Boyer his first 20-win season as head coach. Arkansas State advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT Tournament, defeating SEC powers Mississippi State and Arkansas along the way. The second round victory over Arkansas was played in front of a Convocation Center record crowd of 10, 892. The team's success earned Boyer his second straight Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year Award. Boyer joined former Red Wolves coach Jerry Ann Winters as the only two ASU women's basketball coaches to win back-to-back coach of the year honors. Davie, Sims and Carter all earned All-Sun Belt honors following the 2004-05 season, marking the first time in Red Wolves history that three players earned all-conference honors in a single season.
The 2003-04 season culminated with the program's first-ever regular season conference championship and a return to the WNIT. The Red Wolves finished 19-10 overall and 10-4 in league play, earning a share of the Sun Belt East division title as they posted one of the top turnarounds in Division I, picking up seven more wins than the previous season. ASU's 19 victories that season were the most since the 1997-98 season, sparked in part by the best start in ASU women's basketball history - a seven game win streak to open the season. The strong start carried over into Sun Belt play as the Red Wolves held the top spot in the East division from start to finish. Davie earned honorable-mention all-conference honors as a true freshman, and Boyer was rewarded with his first conference Coach of the Year Award.
The 2002-03 season capped a pair of rebuilding years and resulted in a strong finish and a trip to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
In his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves, Boyer led ASU to its first-ever Top 25 national ranking, 18 victories and a trip to the WNIT Tournament. The Red Wolves' 18 victories gave Boyer the most wins by a first-year coach at ASU since Sara Wooley won 19 games in her first season in 1979.
The Red Wolves opened the season by winning 10 of their first 11 games, including road wins over Southern Miss and nationally ranked Kansas, giving ASU a No. 25 ranking in the Associated Press poll the following week. The Red Wolves finished the season at 18-12 overall, ending the year with the program's second straight invitation to the WNIT.
Boyer came to ASU in 1995 after spending four seasons as an assistant for former head coach Jeff Mittie, who is now the head coach at TCU.
A graduate of Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Mo., with a bachelor's degree in education, Boyer was an assistant coach for the men's program for six seasons, including the last three, which he spent as an assistant with the women's program as well.
As an assistant to the men's team, Missouri Western was a NCAA Division II Tournament participant five years (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995) and won two conference championships. The team made the Sweet 16 in 1990. As a women's assistant, Boyer and Missouri Western made two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Final Four in 1995 and the Elite Eight the previous season.
The team went 31-3 in 1995 and made it to the Elite Eight of the national tournament. It also went undefeated through its MIAA schedule at 16-0. In 1994, the team finished third in the nation, losing in a national semifinal contest and finishing with a 29-3 overall mark.
In his four seasons at Arkansas State as an assistant coach, Boyer and the Red Wolves earned a 75-42 mark. The 1998-99 team went 18-14 with a trip to the Women's NIT.
In the process, ASU earned wins over nationally ranked Virginia and Kansas. The Red Wolves won 20 games in back-to-back seasons in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
The 1997 team opened the season with a victory over nationally ranked Illinois and had a 12-game winning streak during the season, the second longest in school history.
The 1998 squad knocked off nationally ranked Western Kentucky at the Convocation Center and came within four points of scoring an upset over national power Louisiana Tech at home as well.
In his first season at ASU, the Red Wolves won 17 games despite having just seven scholarship players.
Boyer prepped at Scotland County High School in Memphis, Mo. and graduated from there in 1988.
He is married to the former Rhonda Lane of Marked Tree. She is a graduate of ASU.
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