Oct. 25, 2005
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The Mizzou women enter the 2005-06 season with its most experienced squad in Head Coach Cindy Stein's eight years at the helm. A total of 10 upperclassmen - seven juniors to go with seniors LaToya Bond, Christelle N'Garsanet and Cherice Mack - form a solid veteran corps to make a run for the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Included in this group are all five starters from last year's team: guard Bond, center N'Garsanet, junior forwards EeTisha Riddle and Carlynn Savant, and junior guard Tiffany Brooks. N'Garsanet and Brooks are coming off of All-Big 12 Honorable Mention seasons, giving the Tigers a pair of all-conference honorees in each of the first nine years of the Big 12.
Bond (Urbana, Ill. / Urbana HS) enters her third season as Mizzou's starting point guard. She was third on the team in scoring last year at 11.9 points per game, and led the squad in assists. She was also one of the Big 12's best defenders, finishing third in the conference in steals (2.2 spg). Bond will once again pace the Tiger offense, and utilize her quickness to drive to the basket when she's not dishing the ball to her teammates.
N'Garsanet (Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire / Illinois Central College) stormed on the scene last year as one of the most improved players in the Big 12 Conference, and will look to continue her success as Mizzou's presence in the paint. She tied for the team scoring lead last year at 12.6 points per game, and was also the Tigers' top rebounder (6.5 rpg) and shot-blocker (1.3 bpg).
Brooks (Leavenworth, Kan. / Leavenworth HS / Kansas State) joined N'Garsanet atop the team lead in scoring, and immediately contributed to the team once she became eligible at the semester break. With a 30-point outburst against Nebraska in just her fifth game as a Tiger, Brooks broke the Mizzou Arena single-game scoring record. She will again look to use her versatility to score in every possible fashion.
Riddle (O'Fallon, Ill. / O'Fallon HS) also had a breakout year as a sophomore in 2004-05 by making a smooth transition into a starting role. Her athleticism will be relied upon on both ends of the floor; Riddle was fifth in scoring (6.7 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (4.7 rpg).
Savant (Euless, Texas / Trinity HS) dramatically improved her long-range game last season, becoming one of Mizzou's top 3-point threats. Her 42-percent accuracy from behind the arc was the second-highest percentage in Tiger history. She did plenty of work inside as well, hauling in an average of 5.9 rebounds a game to rank second on the squad. Her 8.3 ppg average was the fourth-best total on the team a year ago.
Junior guard Blair Hardiek
(Effingham, Ill. / Effingham HS) is a prime example of the depth of experience that is on Mizzou's side this season. An able backup at the point, she already has 11 career starts under her belt, and has continued to grow into a leadership role on the team. Along with Bond and N'Garsanet, Hardiek will serve as a captain of this year's squad.
Mack (St. Charles, Mo. / St. Charles HS) has over 80 games of experience, including 43 in Big 12 Conference play. She will battle for playing time in the post and offer support along with junior Kacey McFarland
(Neosho, Mo. / Neosho HS).
Sophomore guard Kassie Drew
(Anna, Ill. / Anna-Jonesboro HS) was one of the team's top sharpshooters last year, canning 20 3-pointers. She also provided valuable depth on the perimeter, starting six games. Drew will continue to be a threat to stretch opposing defenses.
Stein welcomes five newcomers to Columbia: two junior-college transfers and three freshmen.
Former Kansas City Metro Player of the Year Marchele Campbell (Kansas City, Kan. / Schlagle HS / Syracuse / Daytona Beach CC) brings a wealth of experience to the Tigers, after one season at Syracuse and another at Daytona Beach Community College. Campbell earned junior-college all-America honorable mention accolades at DBCC, and led the Falcons in scoring at 18.8 ppg last season. She will bolster the Tiger long-range shooting.
At 6-foot-3, junior center Tamika Jackson (Galveston, Texas / Ball HS / Chipola JC) will be counted on to give the Tigers some much-needed depth in the post. She helped lead Chipola to a junior-college region tournament appearance, as well as to the Indians' first-ever conference tournament title. Jackson averaged over eight points and eight rebounds, and also led Chipola in blocks.
Former Dallas Morning News Newcomer of the Year Alyssa Hollins (Mesquite, Texas / John Horn HS) is a versatile guard who can shoot the deep ball and also penetrate to the basket. The freshman guard earned all-district honors all four years of high school, and helped John Horn to a district title last year.
One of the most athletic players on the squad, freshman forward Kaya "K-Kay" Pickens (Houston, Texas / James Madison HS) will add depth to the forward position. Pickens showed her athleticism on both the hardwood and volleyball floor in high school, earning all-district honors in both sports. Like many of her teammates at that position, she is equally comfortable inside the paint and out.
Of all of the Tigers' families, relatives of freshman forward Rachel Oswald (Boonville, Mo. / Boonville HS) have the shortest distance to travel to Columbia. The two-time all-state selection is a recruited walk-on to Mizzou, and will be counted on to make significant contributions to the team.
A January 4 date at Mizzou Arena against defending NCAA National Champion Baylor highlights the 2005-06 University of Missouri women's basketball schedule.
The Lady Bears are one of six NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago that will visit Mizzou Arena, and the game is one of 15 home dates on the schedule.
The Tigers are one of four teams that have been selected to play in the WBCA Classic in Tempe, Ariz., to open the season. MU's November 11 opener against Clemson in that tournament marks the earliest start in school history. Southeastern Conference power Vanderbilt plays host Arizona State in the other first-round game.
Following a trip to Arkansas State, Mizzou's home opener comes on Tuesday, Nov. 22, against Northwestern. Later that week, the Tigers head east to face Towson and host Pittsburgh in a tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.
The 27th Annual State Farm Tiger Classic comes the following weekend (Dec. 2-3), with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Murray State and Southwestern Athletic Conference Champion Alcorn State in the field. That begins an eight-game home stand - which ties the longest in school history - that includes the first two Big 12 Conference games of the year against Baylor and Kansas State.
Those first two Big 12 Conference games are among the seven regular-season games that will be televised this season, tying another school record. Two games, the Jan. 28 matchup vs. Texas Tech at Mizzou Arena, and the Feb. 25 Border Showdown tilt at Kansas, will be televised nationally by FSN. The Mizzou Sports Network will televise four additional games - including the Baylor and Kansas State matchups - and the Feb. 18 game at Colorado will be simulcast by FSN's Rocky Moutain and Midwest affiliates.