Setting their sights on a three-peat return to the 2010 NCAA Women’s Tournament and a trip across town to the Final Four at the Alamodome, the UTSA Roadrunners (6-7, 1-0) opened Southland Conference play on Jan. 9 at the Convocation Center.
The UTSA women’s basketball team will head into conference play in 2010 without anonymity. Head Coach Rae-Rippetoe-Blair in her tenth season under the helm will look to lead the Roadrunners to a third straight Southland Conference Championship as well as a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Under Rippetoe-Blair UTSA has had unprecedented success. Rippetoe-Blair led the Roadrunners to a school-record 24 wins in 2008-2009 and Southland Regular Season and Tournament Championships. The three-time Southland Conference Coach of the Year has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons and has made the Southland Conference Tournament nine consecutive seasons including four trips to the conference finals (2003, ’06,’08,’09).
Following the departure of 2008-2009 All American Candidate, Southland Conference Player of the Year and the league’s defensive player of the year Monica Gibbs, the Roadrunners will look to fill the defensive and leadership void left by Gibbs’ exodus. Replacing Gibbs in the backcourt is junior guard Amber Gregg and sophomore guard Whitney York. Gregg posted a career-high in points per game (11.7) and led the Southland Conference with 73 3-pointers in 2008-2009.
York appeared in eight games in 2008 before suffering a season-ending injury on Jan. 10. York has shown no signs of having to re-acclimate herself to the game this season; York leads the team in points per game (13.9). As a freshman, York started all 33 games racking up 80 assists and 316 points. Freshman two-sport athlete Judy Jones has also made an immediate impact, collecting 98 rebounds while averaging 8.7 points per game.
The loss of 2008-2009 senior forwards Onika Anderson and Ryba Pawlaczyk undoubtedly has hurt the balance of the Roadrunners, but their exit did not trim the height of the Roadrunners in the frontcourt. Rippetoe-Blair can currently insert five post players who stand at six feet or taller. Junior transfer Ashleigh Franklin has been a solid addition in the low post. Averaging 31.8 minutes per game, Franklin is second on the team in scoring (12.4) and leads the team in rebounding with 131.
The Roadrunners will also depend on frontcourt contributions from Kamiesha Johnson Kelsey Ansley and Whitney Wright.
Southland Conference Western Divison leaders Lamar (10-4,1-0) and Texas A&M Corpus Christi (8-5,1-0) hold three of the 2009-2010 Southland Conference Women’s Preseason First Team; Lady Cardinal forwards Brittney Williams and Darika Hall, and Islander guard Jade Davis.
Currently the Northwestern State Lad Demons (8-6, 1-0) lead the East of the Southland Conference. I-35 rival Texas State (4-7,0-1) was destroyed 99-18 in their last non-conference game against Baylor (13-2, 0-1); the Bobcats were voted to finish second to last in the Head Coaches Preseason Poll.
The NCAA Women’s Final Four is being held for the second time in ten years in San Antonio (2002,’10).
The Roadrunners travel to Thibodaux, Louisiana to face Nicholls State (3-9,0-1) on Jan. 13. The next home game is scheduled for Jan. 16 against UT Arlington ( 5-8,1-0).