Thursday, October 12, 2006
NASHVILLE---The Tennessee State University women's basketball team was predicted to finish 11th in a preseason poll of the OVC coaches and sports information directors. Tennessee State finished the 2005-06 season 0-27 and finished 11th in the conference. "It's not a surprise," commented Jones on the pre-season prediction, "with our record from last year, I understand. But it doesn't deter our plans for this season. Our players and the coaching staff are still committed to winning games. It's not where you start, it's where you finish. So that's where our focus is going to be." An 11th place OVC pre-season prediction is not unfamiliar territory for Jones. In 2004-05 she took over a team that was predicted to finish last and was 0-16 in the OVC race the previous year. She led that team to an 8-8 conference record with a fifth place finish. "With the experience of that team, it demonstrates the concept that it doesn't matter where you were picked," expressed Jones. "They were determined to make something happen and decided to commit to the coaches and commit to a change." The Lady Tigers have been in pre-season workouts since September but official practice will begin on Friday, October 13. "We are still looking for consistent leadership but overall I'm very pleased with where the ladies are right now, said Jones. "They are working hard everyday and we are putting things together." The Lady Tigers return four starters in sophomores Obiageli Okafor, Kendra Appling, Tiffany Jackson, and Jamika Banks. Okafor led the team in rebounds (6.7 rpg) and was second in scoring, averaging 11.4 points per game. She led the OVC in offensive rebounding (4.11) and finished 11th in the league's overall rebounding category. "Oby can easily rally the troops, "said Jones. "She keeps the team excited on and off the court. This season she will be more of a perimeter player and will have a lot more freedom outside of the paint. Her hard work is contagious, when she works hard, others get involved." Kendra Appling averaged 5.9 points per game and pulled down 2.9 rebounds. Appling ranked 10th in the league in steals averaging 1.60 per game. Tiffany Jackson added 8.8 ppg while Jamika Banks added 4.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. "The sophomore class has committed themselves to getting it done and they are working hard," stated Jones. Hitting the court for the first time this season will be red shirt Freshman Kierra Goodwin, Junior College Transfers Jaqueline Oliveira, Meesha Jackson, and Tiana Maua. The Lady Tigers will also welcome five freshmen to the program, Jheri Booker, Nikki Rumph, LaDona Pierce, Taviunna Mayberry, and Chelsea Cromartie. "The freshmen class brings an energy level that we haven't seen in a while. They make it really exciting. Everyone understands that there are no starting positions so everyone is working hard," Jones remarked. The Tennessee State University women's basketball team will hit the court Saturday, November 4, in the Gentry Center for the Blue and White game. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. The Lady Tigers will also have exhibition games on Wednesday, November 8 and Saturday, November 11 before traveling to Missouri to face St. Louis in the opening game of the season. 2006-07 OVC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Samford - 189 points (12 first-place votes) 189 2. Morehead State - 158 points (3 first-place votes) 158 3. Murray State - 154 points (3 first-place votes) 154 4. Tennessee Tech - 152 points (4 first-place votes) 152 5. Southeast Missouri - 125 points 6. Eastern Illinois - 116 points 7. Eastern Kentucky - 87 points 8. Austin Peay - 79 points 9. UT Martin - 68 points 10. Jacksonville State - 61 points 11. Tennessee State - 21 points 2006-07 OVC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON ALL-OVC FIRST TEAM Joi Scott, F, Sr., Murray State Alex Munday, F, Jr., Samford LaKrisha Brown, C, Sr., Morehead State Andreika Jackson, F, Sr., UT Martin Kendall Cavin, G, Sr., Tennessee Tech SECOND TEAM Courtney Slaughter, C, Jr., Jacksonville State Saundra Hale, G, Sr., Austin Peay Rachel Galligan, F, So., Eastern Illinois Ashley Cazee, G, Jr., Eastern Kentucky Ashley Nicole Hayes, G/F, So., Murray State OVC PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joi Scott, Murray State