Howard Women Open Season Against Top Ranked Baylor in WNIT
Waco, TX-November 10--The Howard University women’s basketball team faces a tall (that is literally and figuratively) task when it takes on Baylor University in the opening round of the Women’s NIT at the Ferrell Center on Friday at 7:30 pm.
The Lady Bears, who finished 32-4 last season, are ranked Number
1 in the Associated Press pre-season poll. Much of the reason for
the team’s projected success has to do with Baylor’s
towering and talented 6-8 junior center Brittney Griner, who is
regarded by most as the best player in women’s
college basketball after posting some impressive numbers last season: 23.0 points per game, 7.8
rebounds and a whopping 170 blocked shots. That earned her national player of the year honors.
Griner is clearly a dominant force at both ends of the court,
but she has quality help in
sophomore guard Odyssey Sims, a proven scorer who averaged 13 points and shot 45 percent from three-point range, and red-shirt junior forward Destiny Williams, who tallied almost nine points and seven rebounds per game. They are proven talent, who have excelled at a high level throughout their careers.
“We see this as a great opportunity for the
program,” said Howard head coach Niki Reid
Geckeler, entering her fourth year at the helm. “To open the season against the Number 1 team in the country with the Number 1 player is a great experience for our team.”
The Lady Bison, who finished 16-18 last season with a team
comprised of five starting
sophomores, hope to use their experience to battle the talented Lady Bears. Howard opened the 2010-11 season at the then top ranked University of Connecticut and the top player in the country in Maya Moore and it seemed to pay dividends when they advanced to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament finals before losing to Hampton.
“Looking back on last year, I think that playing at UConn
before over 10,000 people and then
coming back to play LSU really helped us in conference and tournament play,” explained Coach
Geckeler. “Playing against high caliber teams early in the season helped the team mature and gain confidence and I expect the same this year.”
Saadia Doyle, a 6-1 red-shirt junior forward leads the Lady
Bison’s charge. Doyle averaged 18.4
points and almost nine rebounds per game en route to being named the MEAC Player of the Year. She has already surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in her short career and is on track to become one of the top players in the school’s storied history.
The Lady Bison also return junior guards Tamoria Holmes and
Cheyene Curley-Payne, who
combined for over 20 points between them. Holmes, one of the quickest players in Howard history, led the team in steals with 75 while Curley-Payne, the team’s diminutive floor general, dished out a team-high and career-high 128 assists.
But the Lady Bison are especially estatic over the return of
red-shirt senior guard Zykia “Ziggy”
Brown, who returns to the fold after sitting out last season for personal reasons. Brown led the team in scoring with over 18 points per game in 2009-10 and she is also a member of the 1,000-point club.
“We are a year older and more experienced,” said
Reid Geckeler. “There should not be any
deer-in-the-headlights for this team. They have been here before. It is a good test for us. We are looking forward to it.”
GAME NOTES: The bench match-up is equally intriguing. Kim Mulkey, the Baylor head coach, was a tremendous point guard during her playing career as was Coach Geckeler, who was a consummate floor general for Georgetown.
NEXT UP: The team’s next round pairings will be announced
following the game, depending on the