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Thread: No. 16 Techsters face No. 7 Texas Tech today

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    Shreveport Times article removed
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    Lady Raiders open season today


    BY PATRICK GONZALES
    AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

    Texas Tech women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp has a certain philosophy when it comes to choosing which players garner playing time during a game.

    It's not rocket science and could even be viewed as just plain old-fashioned, but when it has translated into a 479-153 career record in 21 years, it's kind of hard to question the validity of her way of thinking.

    "I have a philosophy if that they are the best players we have, we're going to put them on the floor and play them," Sharp said. "If they bring a certain quality that we don't get anywhere else then we need to put them on the floor."

    That is the reason why Sharp has no problem with starting true freshman point guard Erin Grant when the No. 7-ranked Lady Raiders break the seal on the 2002-03 season at 11:30 a.m. today against No. 16 Louisiana Tech.

    The matchup is the first game of a doubleheader in conjunction with the State Farm Tip-Off Classic being held at the legendary Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.

    Grant will be the first true freshman to start a season opener for the Lady Raiders since Plenette Pierson in 1999.

    The contest also will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

    Sound too much for an 18-year-old to handle? Sharp doesn't think so.

    "It's always a concern how (freshmen) are going to come in and make that transition, first of all away from home, with the new atmosphere and against great players," Sharp said. "All those things are kind of hard to deal with, but most particularly in Erin's case, that has not been a problem. I don't think we've ever had a freshman in our program who has adapted to things, become a floor leader and done the things for us already that we've seen her do."

    And Grant is just as confident.

    Although she admits she'll have plenty of butterflies before tipoff, the Mansfield standout also is excited about the opportunity and ready for the challenge.

    But then again, she really has no choice.

    Grant was one of the most highly-recruited players in the nation last year after leading Mansfield to an eye-popping four straight Class 5A state championships. She is in the only player in Texas high school basketball history to accomplish that feat and was named to several all-American squads.

    She also was named the preseason Big 12 Conference freshman of the year

    "It's going to be hard to handle, and I believe there is going to be a lot of pressure on me because I am a freshman and because I am inexperienced," Grant said. "And I'll be the first one to admit that I am inexperienced. I've never played a college game in my life. But I also know that I'm just going to step out there and just do whatever I can do to help the team out. I've made transitions all my life, and this is just another step, another challenge."

    So far, so good, according to Sharp.

    Grant edged out junior college transfer Miklannet Tennal for the starting spot and was officially announced the starter by Sharp after an intrasquad scrimmage last week.

    She finished the workout with eight points, six assists and four turnovers, and dazzled the more than 1,000 fans in attendance with her amazing passes.

    It was just a glimpse of what Grant could provide the Lady Raiders.

    She has a pass-first, shoot-later mentality and enjoys using her speed and quickness to penetrate and dish and start the fast break. Her athleticism also makes her a salty defender.

    According to Sharp, the only thing Grant needs to improve on now is her outside shot. She didn't have to shoot much from the outside during her high school career but Sharp said she is increasing her range everyday in practice.

    As for now, Sharp said Grant can sink anything from free-throw line distance and closer.

    "The thing I think makes people great passers is that they anticipate so well," Sharp said. "(Erin) anticipates people getting open. They are not even there and open two seconds before she decides to pass it. The only time she doesn't complete a pass is if that player quits coming to the her. Sometime they might stop and the ball will go out of bounds."

    And on a team with two potential all-Americans (Pierson and Jia Perkins) and a handful of scorers, Grant's sharing will come in handy.

    "We're real excited to see what she can bring to the team," Perkins said. "So far she's been real impressive. I like the way she pushes the ball up the floor, and that should give us a lot more easy baskets."

    The effect she could have on the Lady Raiders this season is being compared to that of T.J. Ford on the Texas men's basketball team last season. Ford was a highly-regarded point guard from Sugar Land Willowridge and helped lead the Longhorns to the Sweet 16 during his freshman year while leading the nation in assists.

    "He is one of the greatest point guards that I've seen in a while, and I just love his style," Grant said. "But I don't want to compare myself to him, because I just want to be Erin Grant. I would love to impact my team like he did last year. That's one similarity that I would love to have."

    The journey begins today.

    pgonzales@lubbockonline.com 766-8736

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    Techsters Open Season Against Texas Tech
    Posted Nov 9, 2002 15:01:25

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Kurt Budke era will officially begin today when No. 16 ranked Louisiana Tech takes on No. 7 Texas Tech at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic at 11:30 a.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena in a nationally televised game on espn2.

    The contest will be the first for Budke since he was named the Lady Techsters head coach on Aug. 23, one day after Leon Barmore announced his retirement after 25 years on the Tech sideline.

    "I'm excited about getting the season started," Budke said. "Although this is my first game as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, it isn't my first head coaching job. I feel very comfortable with the position and am ready to see where we are as a team."

    Budke, the Lady Techster coaching staff and a national audience will get a first hand view of exactly where the inexperienced Tech team is at this point of the year. With only four letter winners returning from last season's 25-5 team, Budke will rely heavily upon those few experienced players.

    Senior Cheryl Ford, juniors Amber Obaze and Trina Frierson and sophomore Erica Smith should see the bulk of the playing time in game No. 1 while junior college transfer Tamaka Clay will make her first career start for the Lady Techsters.

    "If we look up at the end of the game and our four returners have each played 30 to 35 minutes, then I feel like we have a good chance," Budke said. "But if we get into early foul trouble and we have to rely heavily upon our newcomers, it will be an uphill climb."

    Ford, the reigning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, is probable after suffering an injury to her left ankle in team workouts Thursday night in Ruston. The 6-foot-3-inch Summerfield, La., native was upgraded from questionable after participating in workouts Saturday morning in Knoxville.

    "Cheryl is a tough young lady and we know she will give it everything she has," Budke said. "She won't be 100 percent, but she will play. It just means Amisha (Carter) will have to play more for us."

    Carter is a junior college transfer from Midland where she earned Kodak All-American honors for the Lady Chaps. Carter, an Oakland, Calif., native has impressed Tech coaches during preseason practice, but Budke knows playing the Lady Raiders on national television will be a different monster for all of his newcomers.

    Texas Tech enters the contest having already been tabbed as the favorites to win the Big 12 conference in both the coaches and media poll. Head Coach Marsha Sharp's team returns two starters from last year's 20-12 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

    Junior guard Jia Perkins and senior forward Plenette Pierson will pose the biggest challenges for Tech. Perkins, who was a teammate of Obaze on the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship for Young Women Qualifying Team this past summer, averaged 16.0 points and 5.0 rebounds as a sophomore.

    Pierson, a 6-foot-2-inch forward, returns for her final season after playing only four games last year. Pierson averaged 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in those four games last season before being suspended by Sharp for the remainder of the season.

    The Lady Techsters lead the series 9-2 with the last meeting coming in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. The game can be heard live on KXKZ-FM 107.5 (Ruston), KBYO-FM 104.5 (Tallulah-Vicksburg) and KYLA-FM 106.7 (Shreveport).

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    Lady Raiders Set For Season Opener
    Texas Tech returns six letterwinners, including two starters, from a team that advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA Sweet 16.


    Nov. 6, 2002



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    STATE FARM WOMEN'S TIP-OFF CLASSIC



    #7/7 Texas Tech Lady Raiders (0-0) vs. #15/16 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (0-0)

    November 10, 2002 * Knoxville, Tenn. * 11:30 a.m. CST * ESPN2
    Thompson-Boling Arena (25,032)


    Today's Game
    Texas Tech plays its first game of the 2002-03 season against Louisiana Tech in the first game of the State Farm Women's Tip-Off Classic at 11:30 a.m. CST on ESPN2. Tennessee will take on Oklahoma in the second game. The Lady Raiders enter the game with a preseason ranking of seventh in the Associated Press poll and in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. The Lady Techsters are ranked 15th in the USA Today/ESPN poll and 16th in the AP poll. Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke will be calling the game for ESPN2.


    The Lady Raiders
    Texas Tech returns six letterwinners, including two starters, from a team that advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA Sweet 16. The Lady Raiders also return Plenette Pierson for her senior year after sitting out last season and redshirt freshman Jametra Clark. Along with the returners, Tech welcomes six newcomers to provide a lot of depth for the preseason Big 12 favorites. Tech's top returner is junior Jia Perkins, a starter who averaged 16 points, five rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game last year. Pierson averaged 14.5 points and nine rebounds in her four appearances in 2001. Junior Natalie Ritchie came off the bench last season to average 10.6 points per game as well as shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range. The Lady Raiders' other returning starter is junior Jolee Ayers, who averaged 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. Rounding out the junior class is forward Casey Jackson, who chipped in 5.3 points and 4.6 points a game. Sophomore Cisti Greenwalt scored 8.1 points and grabbed 6.6 rebounds while leading the team with a season-high 60 blocks in her inaugural campaign. Senior Jamie Nagle will miss part of the season with an injured right knee which required surgery to repair. Tech welcomes junior college transfers Miklannet "Mik" Tennal and Cayla Petree, while a trio of freshmen, Chesley Dabbs, LaToya Davis and Erin Grant will make a presence this year. Rounding out the roster is freshman walk-on Ashley Bobb.


    Scouting the Opponent
    No. 15/16 Louisiana Tech returns two starters from last year's team that went 25-5 and 17-1 in the WAC to win the league title, while finishing the year ranked eighth in the Associated Press poll and 19th by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

    The Lady Techsters return four letterwinners and are under the direction of first-year head coach Kurt Budke, who replaced the legendary Leon Barmore. Louisiana Tech will be led by senior Cheryl Ford and junior Amber Obaze. Ford was the WAC Player of the Year and averaged 11.3 points and 8.7 rebounds a game last year. Obaze, who was a member of the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team which won the gold medal in Brazil and was coached by Texas Tech's Marsha Sharp, returns after scoring 12.1 points and grabbing 4.7 rebounds per outing last season. Obaze was also honorable mention Kodak All-America and second team All-WAC.


    Series Record
    Today is the 12th meeting between Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech with the Lady Techsters holding a 9-2 advantage in the series. In the last meeting, Louisiana Tech defeated the Lady Raiders 66-55 on March 23, 1996 in Nacogdoches, Texas in the NCAA Sweet 16. Texas Tech was victorious the previous time, 74-71, on Dec. 21, 1992 in Lubbock.


    Season Openers
    Texas Tech is 18-9 in season openers and 14-6 under head coach Marsha Sharp. Last year, Tech lost at Duke, 85-69, in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 11. This is the second year in a row that Tech has opened the season on the road. Prior to that, Tech had not opened on the road since the 1997-98 season.


    Lady Raiders in Tip-Off Classic
    Texas Tech is making its third appearance in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic and its second-straight. Tech is 1-1 in the Tip-Off Classic. In their first outing, the Lady Raiders defeated Vanderbilt, 74-67, in Jackson, Tenn., while losing at Duke last year, 85-69.


    A Look Ahead
    Texas Tech will return home for two exhibition games Nov. 12 against Spartak Moscow and Nov. 17 vs. the Houston Jaguars. The Lady Raiders will then host three-straight home games against Washington (Nov. 24), Valparaiso (Nov. 27) and Creighton (Dec. 4). Tech will take to the road for a game against Wyoming (Dec. 14) in Casper, Wyo. That game will be a doubleheader with the men's team.


    Lady Raider Head Coach Marsha Sharp
    One of the most respected and well-known coaches in Texas Tech history, head coach Marsha Sharp is 479-153 in her 21st year at the helm of the Lady Raiders. Entering the 2002-03 season, Sharp was the seventh active winningest coach among Division I coaches. She has led the Lady Raiders to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 13 consecutive, and nine NCAA Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight appearances and the NCAA National Championship in 1993. Sharp led the Lady Raiders to three-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season titles (1998-2000) and two tournament crowns (1998, 1999). While in the SWC, coach Sharp and the Lady Raiders never finished below third, they won or shared the last five championships, and they captured three Post-Season Classic titles.

    Sharp was also the head coach of the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team, which won the gold medal in Brazil.

    A 1974 graduate of Wayland Baptist University, Sharp was named the National Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994. She also reaped SWC Coach of the Year honors seven times, five consecutively.


    Red-White Intrasquad Scrimmage
    The Lady Raiders held an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the United Spirit Arena. In the scrimmage, senior Plenette Pierson poured in 31 points, while junior Jia Perkins added 17. Junior Natalie Ritchie and redshirt freshman Jametra Clark each chipped in 16 and freshman LaToya Davis added 15. Also scoring in double figures were sophomore Cisti Greenwalt (14), junior Jolee Ayers (12), junior Miklannet Tennal (11) and junior Casey Jackson (10). Ritchie also tallied a team-high seven assists and freshman Erin Grant dished out six assists. Davis led all players with nine rebounds followed by four others with seven apiece. Perkins and Jackson each contributed three steals. Tech shot 49.6 percent from the field, connecting on 61 of 123 attempts, while going 8-for-15 from three-point range for 53.3 percent.


    Tech Preseason Conference Favorites
    Texas Tech was picked to win its fourth Big 12 Conference women's basketball title in preseason polls voted on by the league's head coaches and by the media. In the coaches poll, Tech was first with 114 points, including six first-place votes, followed by Kansas State with 113 and Texas with 105. In the media poll, Tech received 192 points and nine first-place votes, while edging Kansas State with 191 points and seven first-place votes. Texas was third with 173 and one first-place vote.


    Sharp One of the Elite
    Head coach Marsha Sharp's .75753 winning percentage ranks seventh among winningest active coaches. Sharp has a 478-153 career record according to NCAA standards. The NCAA does not include forfeits in the overall record, which is 479-153. Sharp won a game by forfeit during the 1988-89 season against Baylor.


    Pierson and Perkins Picked as One of Best at Their Position
    Senior Plenette Pierson and junior Jia Perkins have been nabbed as one of the top five in the country at their respective positions by ESPN.com. Pierson was named one of the top five power fowards along with Oklahoma's Caton Hill, LSU's Aiysha Smith, Mississippi State's LaToya Thomas and Kansas State's Kendra Wecker. Perkins was listed on the top five off-guards list along with Duke's Alana Beard, Penn State's Kelly Mazzante, Connecticut's Diana Taurasi and Minnesota's Lindsay Wilson. Tech was one of five schools (Vanderbilt, Kansas State, LSU and Mississippi State) to have two players listed at the five positions.


    Pierson on ESPN.com
    Senior Plenette Pierson will be writing a weekly diary for ESPN.com. Pierson will be giving a weekly update about herself and the Lady Raiders throughout the 2002-03 season.


    Summer Success
    Marsha Sharp was the head coach of the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team that captured the gold medal in Brazil with an unblemished 4-0 record and qualified USA Basketball for the 2003 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Championship For Young Women. Tech's Jia Perkins was a member of the 12-person squad. Perkins was one of five Big 12 players represented on the team. Louisiana Tech's Amber Obaze was also a member of the team.


    Ritchie Named Female Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year
    In July, junior Natalie Ritchie was named the female Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year. Ritchie's commitment to sportsmanship is led by her devotion and kindness. The Amarillo, Texas native averaged 10.6 points in 32 games last season. While assisting the Lady Raiders to their 2002 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance, Ritchie still found time to exercise her generosity and to show genuine concern for others. Ritchie visits local hospitals, churches and other community agencies. She also finds time to meet with fans, encourage students and to give motivational speeches on a variety of topics, in addition to her full schedule as a student-athlete. Ritchie also volunteers at Race for the Cure, Special Olympics and the Ronald McDonald House.


    Nagle Sidelined
    Senior Jamie Nagle will miss today's game after having lateral meniscus repair done to her right knee. Nagle is expected to sit out until at least December.


    Lady Raiders in the Polls
    Since January 20, 1992, the Lady Raiders have been ranked in the Top 25 in the Associated Press and/or the USA Today poll a total of 194 weeks. That includes this year's preseason polls which Tech is ranked seventh in both the AP poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.


    RPI
    In the preseason WBCA/Summerville RPI (rate percentage index) strength of schedule, Texas Tech ranks 18th for non-conference games and second in all games for the 2002-03 season.


    Follow the Lady Raiders
    All Lady Raider basketball games can be heard live on the All Sports Radio Network on KFYO-AM 790 and KKCL-FM 98.1 locally. Listen to play-by-play by Ryan Hyatt as he takes the court with the Lady Raiders. The following radio stations will air the Lady Raider basketball games this season:

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