Women's Hoops Releases 2012-13 ScheduleAugust 6, 2012
ANDERSON, S.C. - Eight meetings with five opponents who reached the postseason in 2011-12 in their respective divisions and nonconference tournaments at Armstrong Atlantic and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, along with 12 home games highlight Anderson’s 2012-13 women’s basketball schedule as released by head coach Jim Brunelli on Monday.
“It’s another very competitive schedule,” said Brunelli. “That’s something we’ve done over the past four years – we’ve always played a competitive mix [of teams]. I’m looking forward to starting out with the two Division I teams. [The schedule] is competitive, it’s strong. We are playing a lot of good regional teams – teams that have been to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s exciting.”
The Trojans open their 2012-13 slate with an exhibition contest versus Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 2, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. The Lady Tigers are looking to bounce back from a sub-par 6-22 campaign a year ago and third-year head coach Itoro Coleman added a deep, talented recruiting class to bolster CU’s efforts on the hardwood. Three seasons ago, the Trojans fell, 69-51, to the Lady Tigers in an exhibition contest that saw then-freshman Alissa Diaz score 10 points and record seven rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.
Two days later, AU travels to Columbia to pay a visit to the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena. Coach Dawn Staley’s squad posted an impressive 25-10 record last season, earning a No. 25 national ranking and advancing to the Sweet 16 as a No. 5 seed before falling, 76-60, to top-seeded Stanford in the Fresno Regional.
“I’m glad we were able to work it out,” added Brunelli. “It’s exciting – we’re playing Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference teams. South Carolina is coming off an outstanding year after getting to the Sweet 16, and they have some of the top players in the state coming in this year.”
Following the challenging exhibition contests, the Trojans open the regular season with a pair of games versus Conference Carolinas’ foes in the friendly confines of the Abney Athletic Center. AU plays host to the Pfeiffer Lady Falcons (13-13) on Sat., Nov. 10, in the Trojans’ first season-opener at home since 2010 and just their third opener at home in the past 14 seasons.
Local rival Erskine (13-14) invades the Abney Center on Nov. 14, looking to avenge the Trojans’ 88-56 win in Due West last December. Anderson is riding a 10-game win streak over the Flying Fleet and has claimed 14 of the last 15 meetings with Erskine, which fell, 63-58, to Mount Olive in the opening round of the 2012 Conference Carolinas Tournament.
“Pfeiffer is an up-and-coming team,” noted the Trojan coach. “Erskine is a rival game and that’s exciting because of the fan support. It’ll be a great atmosphere.”
For the second consecutive season, the Trojans will travel to Savannah, Ga., for Armstrong Atlantic’s Wingate by Wyndham Lady Pirate Classic (Nov. 16-17), where they will again square off against Flagler and host Armstrong Atlantic. AU posted a decisive 67-50 win over Flagler in the opening contest a year ago, then dropped a narrow 53-50 setback to the Lady Pirates, who finished with an even 13-13 record last season.
“It’s a really good, well-run tournament and we get to play two regional teams,” said Brunelli. “I like playing in tournaments because it helps get us ready for the tournament season. Going against teams from the Peach Belt Conference is always a positive for us.”
A week later, the Trojans will log nearly 3,400 air miles for their longest road trip in recent memory, as Anderson celebrates Thanksgiving at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Mt. McKinley Bank North Invitational. Fellow South Atlantic Conference member Lenoir-Rhyne went undefeated and won the event a year ago, defeating the host Nanooks, 57-44, to earn the title.
AU will look to follow suit and is slated for three games in three days, tipping off the tourney against Winona State on Thur., Nov. 22. The Warriors posted an 18-11 record last season, falling to the University of Mary in the opening round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and narrowly missed out on earning a berth in the NCAA’s Central Region Tournament.
“The trip to Alaska will obviously be a highlight,” said Brunelli. “Everyone is excited about the opportunities the road trip holds. Yes, it’s a business trip but we are going to make it a life experience as well. Not many of us are going to get another opportunity to get up there again.”
The Trojans square off against Alaska Fairbanks and third-year head coach Cody Burgess’ Nanooks on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Nanooks, who compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, notched a 6-22 record last season.
Anderson wraps up the tournament a day later by facing Upper Iowa, another member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Peacocks (3-23), were led by All-NSIC Freshman Whitney Kieffer, who started every game last season for the Peacocks and led the team in 12 categories, including scoring, rebounds and steals. The Scales Mound, Ill. native averaged 15.8 points per game, scoring a career-high 31 points at Bemidji State. The 5-foot-9 guard also added 6.7 rebounds per contest.
The Trojans return to the Lower 48 to open South Atlantic Conference action a week later by playing host to Catawba on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Indians swept AU last season en route to posting an impressive 19-10 overall record and claimed second place in the league’s regular-season standings. Catawba was an at-large selection to last season’s eight-team NCAA South Regional, earning their first appearance since 2004 and pushed top-seed and host USC Aiken to the end before falling, 71-69.
“The conference schedule is always a battle. We’ll have to be ready to play every night out. Catawba was number one or two in the conference most of last season and they are always well-prepared.”
Following a six-day layoff, Anderson steps back out of league play for three consecutive contests, facing Georgia College (Dec. 8), Winston-Salem State (Dec. 12) and USC Aiken (Dec. 19).
The Bobcats (4-22), who will visit the Abney Center for the second time in three seasons, were led by freshman Shanteona Keys who averaged 15.5 points per game last season, while adding 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game. The Trojans close out their nonconference slate with a two-game road swing, beginning at visit Winston-Salem State (18-10) and at USC Aiken. The Pacers (27-4) climbed as high as seventh in the national polls last season en route to making their third appearance in the last four NCAA Tournaments, before dropping a 61-55 decision to 24th-ranked Lander in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional semifinals.
“Those are three really good schools, including winners of the Peach Belt the last two years. We’ve had some really great battles with USC Aiken and Georgia College is well-coached and always prepared. Winston-Salem still has some players on the roster that were recruited to play D-I, before the school reclassified. Some of the players and coaches and players have family up in that area of North Carolina and it will be nice to get up there. ”
Anderson resumes play after a 16-day break for Christmas and New Year’s with a two-game conference homestand, as Lenoir-Rhyne (Jan. 5) and Newberry (Jan. 9) visit the Abney Center. L-R recorded a stellar 19-9 slate last season and claimed third in the league with an 11-7 mark, while the Wolves took the sixth slot in the SAC standing with a 16-12 overall record, including 10-8 in the conference.
“Lenoir-Rhyne is another young team that played very well last year. We have a lot of respect for them and Newberry is good team with a lot of size and they also return the SAC Freshman of Year (Haylee Lepaio).”
Brunelli and the Trojans call on Lincoln Memorial (Jan. 12) and Tusculum first-year-head coach Katrina Williams on Jan. 16. LMU notched a 14-13 record last season, while the Pioneers went 17-11 overall and earned their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament before falling to then-defending national champion Clayton State in the NCAA’s Southeast Regional.
Anderson plays host to Carson-Newman on Saturday, Jan. 19, before facing defending conference champion Wingate in the Abney Center four days later. First-year Bulldog head coach Ann Hancock inherits a team that won 24 games and claimed both the South Atlantic Conference regular-season and tournament crowns last year and nearly advanced to the Elite Eight in San Antonio before falling, 72-67, in triple overtime to Lander in the NCAA Southeast Region title game.
The Trojans travel to Brevard on Jan. 26 and face Lenoir-Rhyne for the second time, before wrapping up the first half of the league’s double-round robin slate by playing host to Mars Hill on Feb. 2.
“Lincoln Memorial has a large recruiting class coming in and Coach Hodge has won games wherever he’s been. We’ve had some great battles with Tusculum and hopefully we can stay in the win column with them,” Brunelli added. “Carson-Newman comes ready to play every time and Wingate is the defending champion. They have a really good team and Mars Hill usually presents mismatches problems for a lot of teams, so the conference schedule will be challenging as always.”
The 2013 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament will be held March 6-10, with the quarterfinal rounds hosted by the higher seeded teams. The semifinals and title game will be played on the campus of Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C.
The Trojans return all nine letterwinners, including every starter from last season’s 10-17 campaign. Brunelli has added three newcomers to the squad, while redshirt sophomore guard Kimberly Major is expected to battle for playing time after sitting out last season due to injury.
A pair of senior guards, Alissa Diaz and Amanda Parris, has already made their mark on the program. Diaz earned second-team all conference honors last season after pacing the team in scoring (14.6 ppg.), assists (2.67 apg) and blocked shots (24) and finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the league in four offensive categories. The Summerville, Ga. native enters the 2012-13 campaign with nearly 800 career points.
Parris currently ranks ninth in the school record books with 111 career 3-pointers after ranking seventh in the league in 3-point field goals per game last season and is currently first all-time in school history with her 86.4% free-throw accuracy and 10th with 2.1 assists per game.
Fellow senior Breonda Shannon was second on the team in scoring and led the Trojans with more than eight rebounds per game last season. The 5-foot-10 forward already ranks eighth in the school record books with 499 career rebounds. Another senior, forward Tilde Ahlin was second on the squad with 4.6 rebounds per contest and also averaged more than eight points per game. Freshman guard Sierra Simpson earned SAC All-freshman team honors last season, after averaging 6.4 points and 2.6 assists per game. She led the team in assists on nine occasions and was also third on the team with 4.2 rebounds a contest.
“It’ll be interesting and I’m excited about this year,” Brunelli concluded. “We have a great group of young ladies.”