November 13, 2009 at 9:29 AM CST - Updated June 16 at 10:30 PM
Game 1 ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES at Creighton Bluejays Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 8:35 p.m. D.J. Sokol Arena (2,950) Omaha, Nebraska Radio: KWHF 95.9 FM "The Wolf" & AStateRedWolves.com LiveStats & JumpTV Webcasting Available at AStateRedWolves.com
TIPPING IT OFF: The 36th season of Arkansas State women's basketball gets underway Friday night when the Red Wolves travel to Omaha, Neb. to take on the Creighton Bluejays in an 8:35 p.m. game at D.J. Sokol Arena. The game will be the first regular-season game at the arena, and the first regular-season game to be played on the Creighton campus since 2001. The game may be heard on KWHF 95.9 FM "The Wolf" and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats and video will also be available at AStateRedWolves.com.
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State finished the exhibition season at 2-0, scoring 95 points in both games. The Red Wolves defeated Christian Brothers 95-49 Nov. 3 before whipping Southern Arkansas 95-42 Nov. 10. Creighton won its only exhibition game, defeating Nebraska-Omaha 80-57.
THE CREIGHTON SERIES: For the second consecutive year, Arkansas State opens the season against the Creighton Bluejays, but Friday night's game will be just the second meeting between the two teams. When the teams met last year to open the season at the ASU Convocation Center, ASU began the year at 1-0 after defeating the Bluejays 73-56.
THE COACHES: Arkansas State head coach Brian Boyer is entering his 11th season at the helm of the Red Wolves program. Boyer holds a career record of 168-135 and has directed the Red Wolves to the Women's National Invitation Tournament four times, including three of the past five years. Boyer is assisted by Tanya Ray, Rebecca Peoples and Jennifer Sullivan. Jim Flanery is beginning his eighth season as head coach at Creighton and has compiled a 131-92 record along the way.
ASU IN SEASON OPENERS: The Red Wolves are 20-15 all-time in season openers, with a record of 7-13 when opening the season on the road. Under head coach Brian Boyer, the Red Wolves are 6-4 in season-openers, including a 3-4 record when opening on the road.
BOYER CLIMBING: With 89 Sun Belt Conference victories, ASU head coach Brian Boyer is now fourth all-time in Sun Belt Conference wins. Boyer trails FIU head coach Cindy Russo, who is in third place with 94 wins to her credit. Former Louisiana Tech head coach Leon Barmore tops the list with 135 SBC victories. With 168 overall victories to his credit, Boyer is in second place on the Arkansas State all-time wins list, trailing only Jerry Ann Winters, who finished with 196 victories in 11 seasons at ASU.
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.
RECORDS WATCH: With 440 rebounds over the past two seasons, ASU junior forward Shay Scott needs just one rebound to move into 20th place on the all-time rebounding chart at A-State. Scott is also among the career leaders for blocked shots, sitting in ninth place with 46. Senior forward Lyndsay Schlup has 41 blocked shots in her career to rank 10th all-time at ASU. Senior guard Ebonie Jefferson has 92 steals in her career and needs just one to move into a tie for 25th all-time on the Red Wolves' charts.
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.
LAST TIME OUT: JONESBORO, Ark. (11-10-2009) - Arkansas State sophomore Meghan Lewis scored 18 points and junior Shay Scott posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Red Wolves to a 95-42 exhibition victory over Southern Arkansas Tuesday night at the ASU Convocation Center. A-State placed all 13 players on the roster in the scoring column, also getting double figure nights from senior Ebonie Jefferson with 13 points and sophomore Linsay Henke with 12. Arkansas State jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the game and was never threatened as the Red Wolves built a 31-point, 43-12 lead at the half. ASU forced the Lady Muleriders into 35 turnovers on the night, scored 39 points off of SAU turnovers and outscored Southern Arkansas 56-10 in the paint. "I'm very pleased with our performance tonight," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "One of the areas that really stands out is the turnover column. Forcing that many turnovers is a lot, but even more impressive is that on our end we kept it at 13. I was extremely pleased that in last week's game we kept it at 10, so it's good to see that maybe that is not a fluke. At the pace we are playing, to only turn it over 13 times is pretty good." In addition to the double-figure night from Lewis, Scott, Jefferson and Henke, Arkansas State also got eight points each from freshmen Quinishia McDowell and Jasmine Taylor and five points each from sophomore NeNe Hurst and freshman LaWanda Clayborn. Junior Breaunna Ellison and freshman Shatara Stone each finished with four points, and freshman Jessica Brown added two points. Senior Lyndsay Schlup and freshman Andi Watson wrapped up the ASU scoring with a single point each. Kmaria Hobbs was the only SAU player in double figures, finishing the night with 11 points. With the win, Arkansas State finishes the exhibition season at 2-0 after defeating Christian Brothers 95-49 Nov. 3 The Red Wolves will now hit the road for the first two regular-season games, opening the 2009-10 slate at Creighton Nov. 13. From there, Arkansas State moves on to face Kansas State Nov. 16 before returning to the ASU Convocation Center for the Nov. 18 home opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. "I'm proud of the way we are playing and practicing, but we weren't challenged in either of our exhibition games," said Boyer. "We have not been tested, and we are going to get tested this weekend as we go into Creighton and then on to Kansas State. It is going to be night and day from what we have seen in the exhibitions."
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.
RED WOLVES ADD MORRILL: JONESBORO, Ark. (11/11/09) - Arkansas State head coach Brian Boyer announced Wednesday that Scott City, Mo. standout Jane Morrill has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her basketball career at Arkansas State University. A 6'1" forward, Morrill is on pace to top the 1,000-point mark in her career at Notre Dame High School in Cape Girardeau, Mo. and averages 15.7 points and nine rebounds per game. She is a two-time All-Conference, All-District and All-Regional selection, earning conference MVP honors following her sophomore year with the Bulldogs. She has blocked 151 shots over the past two seasons at Notre Dame and is expected to finish her career as the school's all-time leader. "From day one, Jane was our number one recruit, and we were so excited when she committed to us," said Boyer. "She is going to be an impact front-line player at this level. She is not only a very good scorer, but she is a very versatile post player. She understands the game and passes it very well for a player her size." In addition to her skills on the basketball court, Morrill is a two-time All-State softball player at Notre Dame, also earning All-Conference, All-District and All-Regional honors along the way. She is the daughter of Alan and Carla Morrill. "Jane is the total package," said Notre Dame head coach Renee Peters. "She has size, shooting ability, passing ability, shot blocking ability and rebounding ability. She knows the game so well. She can see the game set up and know how to thread the needle with passes. She is also an excellent perimeter shooter and ball handler. You are not going to see many girls her size take the ball behind their back when they take someone one-on-one. But she isn't someone who worries about cushioning stats and making herself look better; she wants to win and however that falls in place is fine with her."
QEDAN INKS WITH ASU: JONESBORO, Ark. (11/11/09) - Arkansas State head coach Brian Boyer announced Wednesday that Hanna Qedan, a 5'11" guard from Farmington, Ark., has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Red Wolves lineup for the 2010-11 season. "Hanna can really shoot the ball," said Boyer. "To go along with that, she has very good size for a guard, so she is able to get a shot off on a lot of people. But the thing that really stands out about her is her explosiveness. She handles the ball just as well left or right, so she is more than just a shooter, she is a very good all-around guard." The Farmington High School standout averages 19.4 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game and four blocks per game. She has 19 double-doubles so far in her career and owns a 32-point career-high game. She was named All-Conference and an AAO Top 25 Camp nominee. She was selected to the All-Northwest Arkansas team, the All-County team, the KURM Dream Team and was a Top 10 All-American Camp participant. "Hanna is a tenacious player on both ends of the floor," said Farmington head coach Brad Johnson. "She is a big guard who has a great face-up game. She can shoot it from outside, but probably her biggest asset is her explosiveness to the basket. She gets to the basket quickly with either hand and she is big enough and physical enough that she can take it down low and post up. She is a very versatile player and knowing the offensive sets that Coach Boyer runs at ASU, she is tailor-made for them offensively." She is the daughter of Bashar and Jeri Qedan.
MADDOX SIGNS WITH ASU:JONESBORO, Ark. (11/11/09) - Arkansas State head coach Brian Boyer announced Wednesday that Millington (Tenn.) Central guard/forward Olivia Maddox has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her basketball career at ASU. Maddox, 5'11", was a Class 3-A All-State Tournament selection following her sophomore year in which she averaged 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and helped lead Millington to a state runner-up finish. She was also named Memphis Best of Preps and earned All-District honors following the 2007-08 season. "Olivia has been a part of one of the most successful programs in the Memphis area," said Boyer. "In addition to being on a very successful team, they are very well balanced in terms of scoring. She is a great athlete who really fits our system well and is someone that our fans will enjoy watching over the next four years. Olivia is very athletic, very smooth to the basket and is a great offensive rebounder. It is unfortunate that she didn't get to play last year due to a knee injury, but her best basketball is ahead of her and we have all the confidence that she is going to be a great player for us." "I think Arkansas State is getting a young lady with a lot of athleticism who has a lot of upside to her game," said Millington head coach Stan Gatlin. "She has great rebounding ability, jumping ability and great defensive intensity. She has the ability to play different positions from the wing to the post and will be a great addition to Arkansas State's team." Maddox is the daughter of Rosalind Brown.
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.