Oct. 30, 2008
LOGAN, Utah - Exhibition GAME #1 Montana Tech (0-0) vs. Utah State (0-0) Mon., Nov. 3, 7 p.m. Logan, Utah Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) www.UtahStateAggies.com
TIP OFF - Utah State will play its first exhibition game against Montana Tech on Monday, Nov. 3 at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum. Montana Tech defeated Medicine Hat 65-48 to start its preseason. The Orediggers will also take on Dickson State (Oct. 31) and Northwest University (Nov. 1) in Helena, Mt. before taking on the Aggies. Junior returnee Jenessa Todd led the team in scoring with 13 points and in rebounds with seven. Newcomer Lindsie Wilson tallied 12 points and another junior returnee, Jessie DePell, scored 10. Transfer guard Brittanie Toone dished four assists and sparked the offense.
UP NEXT - After the Aggies take on Montana Tech, they will continue their exhibition schedule against Dixie State on Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Dixie State opens the season on the road against Southern Utah in Cedar City on Saturday, Nov. 1.
PRACTICE IS OVER - Utah State (0-0, 0-0 WAC) will officially open the 2008-09 regular season hosting Portland on Friday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. The game is a doubleheader with the men's team who will host Montana State-Northern at approximately 7 p.m.
ADMISSION - Admission to Utah State's women's basketball games is $5 for adults, $1 for youth. Season tickets are also available $65 for adults and $10 for youth. Contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435)797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) for more information or visit the Utah State athletic web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
TURNING 21 - The 2008-09 season marks the 21st year of women's basketball at USU, and just the sixth since the program was restarted prior to the 2003-04 season. The women's hoops program at USU had been disbanded following the 1987 season due to budget cuts. USU is playing in its fourth season in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) after playing its first two seasons in the Big West Conference.
AGGIES ON THE RADIO/WEB - While Thursday's first exhibition of the season will not be, all the other Utah State games can be heard on KLGN (1390 AM) in Logan with Evan Nyman calling the play-by-play and Ashley Rutledge providing color commentary for home games. They can also be heard on the web by going to the Utah State Athletics home page at www.UtahStateAggies.com and cling on the Yahoo Sports link in the right hand column.
GAMETRACKER - Fans can follow Aggie home games through the USU web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com via GameTracker, a free service, which updates play-by-play and statistics throughout the game.
ON THE INTERNET - All of Utah State's home games are available to watch live through Utah State TV via the internet at www.UtahStateAggies.com. USU fans can also listen to every game both home and away, via USU's web site.
FAMILIAR FACES - Head coach Raegan Pebley and the Aggies have two starters among nine letterwinners returning from last season's squad that posted an 9-20 overall record and 5-11 in the WAC in senior guard Danyelle Snelgro and senior center Ndoumbe Diop.
AROUND THE COURT - News and Notes from around the Aggie basketball court.
After sitting out last season, junior Lydia Whitehead will finally see the court this season. The transfer from Utah is a center who looks to make an impact this season.
The Aggies have five newcomers this season, including three freshman, and two transfers.
The Aggies are a very international team with players from six different countries, including Australia (Stacey Howard), Japan (Erika Guatavai), Canada (Zana Williams), Senegal (Banna Diop and Ndoumbe Diop) and the United States (10 players).
Six different returning players saw time in at least 20 games last season (Snelgro, Pares, Johnson, Ndoumbe Diop and White). Four different returners (Snelgro, Johnson, Coddington and Diop) logged at least 300 minutes.
Senior guard Danyelle Snelgro scored in double-figures 15 times last season to lead all returners.
Snelgro is fifth in the Aggie all-time top 10 in assists with 208 assists. She increased her assist total every season with 45 assists in 2005-06, 81 in 2006-07 and 82 in 2007-08.
COACH PEBLEY - Head coach Raegan Pebley is entering her sixth season as head coach at Utah State, which is the longest tenure in the program's history. Five games into last season, Pebley overtook the lead for the most games coached in Utah State history (116). She has now coached 140 games for the blue and white. Pebley now has 42 wins as Aggie head coach which places her behind Fern Gardner (45) and Cindy Perkins (51) on the all-time win list.
2008-09 AGGIE OUTLOOK - New beginnings. That is what the 2008-09 Utah State women's basketball team is focused on. After losing four of their top five scorers, the Aggies look to rebuild this season with five newcomers. Utah State will have to recover from the loss of Taylor Richards, one of the Aggies most celebrated players. Last season, Richards led the team averaging 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and added 75 assists. In their fourth season in the Western Athletic Conference and their sixth season since the program was reinstated prior to the 2003-04 season, the Aggies look to improve in every facet of the game. Utah State continues to improve in the eyes of the other eight WAC coaches. This season the Aggies were picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll which is a spot higher than last season and three places higher than the 2006-07 season's predictions. "We expect that our team will continue on its mission to always put academics first, bring pride to Utah State University and continue to progress towards a WAC Championship," USU head coach Raegan Pebley said. "We do these things together and with class, and we love to have fun in the process! We have brought each member of this program, student-athletes and staff, here to Utah State with this in mind." Utah State welcomes back nine letterwinners from last year's squad that ended the season 9-20 with a 5-11 WAC record. Among the returning letterwinners are one starter, senior guard Danyelle Snelgro (5-5, Altadena, Calif./John Muir HS). The Aggies have three other seniors returning in guard Ana Pares (5-8, Provo, Utah/Timpview HS), forward Shawnta Pope (5-10, Cairo, Ga./Chipola College) and center Ndombe Diop (Dakar, Senegal, Oak Hill Academy/Chipola College). The 2008-09 senior class is Pebley's third group of players that she has developed from freshmen. Between the four seniors, they have played in 187 games and have 85 starts. "I have a feeling that this year's squad will be a team that leads itself as a group. If everyone stays focused on the fact that the goal is more important than any one player's role, their collective vision will be their leader," Pebley said. Other returners include junior center/forward Nicole Johnson (6-2, Vancouver, British Columbia/Columbia River HS), sophomore guard Alice Coddington (5-10, Canberra, Australia/Radford College), sophomore forward Amber White (5-10, San Leandro, Calif./San Leandro HS), junior guard LeeAnn Palo (5-6, Woodinville, Wash./Woodinville HS), and sophomore forward Erika Guatavai (5-11, Gunma, Japan/Tokiwa/Daiot Bunka University). "Every single returner took advantage of their time in Logan over the summer. Not only did we have all of them in summer school getting ahead academically, but they also prepared themselves as a group for fall conditioning. They set the standard of being prepared and even starting the game ahead instead of behind," Pebley said. Along with the nine letterwinners, the Aggies add five newcomers as well as junior center/forward Lydia Whitehead (Nibley, Utah/Mountain Crest HS/Utah) who redshirted last season. The remaining newcomers come from four different countries giving the Aggies and international flare this season. The remaining rookies are sophomore forward Stacey Howard (Queensland, Australia/Northeastern JC), freshman center Banna Diop (Dakar, Senegal/Oak Hill Academy/Chipola College), freshman guard/forward Chelsea Burns (Carlsbad, Calif./La Jolla Country Day), junior guard Tahara Williams (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Notre Dame HS/Colgate) and freshman guard Zana Williams (Vancouver, British Columbia/Kitsilano). "Our newcomers all bring very specific and unique traits to our program. Chelsea Burns stretches out the defense with her three-point shooting ability, while Banna Diop adds size to our improving inside game. Zana Williams brings creativity, ball handling, and the ability to score, and Stacey Howard's versatility and defensive presence are great assets and additions." These new pieces along with the returning pieces hope to complete the Utah State puzzle this season.
Guards The Aggies corps of guards will be led by senior Danyelle Snelgro who is the top returning scorer, averaging 9.9 points per game. Snelgro also had 68 steals and 82 assists for USU last season. She moved into the Aggies' career top 10 lists in both steals and assists with 143 career steals and 208 career assists, respectively. Snelgro became the second player in Utah State history to earn WAC preaseason all-WAC honors when she was named to the second team. USU great Taylor Richards was named to the second team prior to the 2008-09 season. "I am really happy for her. She is not in this for individual accolades. She is a player who has an ability to impact the game. I love what she brings to the defensive end. She is very consistently and is a team player," said Pebley. Also returning at the guard position is senior Ana Pares who saw action in 28 of the Aggies 29 games. Pares averaged 3.5 points and 0.9 rebounds per game. She shot 38.3 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the free throw line. Another member of the experienced group of guards is sophomore Alice Coddington who played in 28 games and started three. Coddington averaged over 15 minutes per game, while averaging 2.5 points per game. Junior LeeAnn Palo rounds out the group of returning guards. Palo saw time in 15 games last season, playing over 100 minutes. The junior averaged 2.1 points and 0.5 rebounds per game. She also added 10 assists to help round out a solid group of guards. "We have a refined group in all of the perimeter positions. Each of the perimeter players have the ability to play more than one position and we will utilize them in this capacity," said Pebley.
Forwards/Centers This year's Utah State team will have an over-abundance of size with five players over six feet tall, led by freshman Banna Diop who stands 6-6. This will help the Aggies not only defensively, but also on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Ndoumbe Diop, one of two returning starters, gained a wealth of experience in her first season in an Aggie uniform. Diop played in 28 games, starting 12, averaging almost 14 minutes per game. She averaged 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 39.0 from the floor. Center/forward Nicole Johnson also earned valuable experience last season. The junior played in 26 games, while starting eight. Johnson played over 350 minutes for the Aggies, averaging 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. After redshirting last season, junior Lydia Whitehead will finally get to see some time on the court. The Utah transfer has been working with the team and is ready to see playing time. "We have more size than any team we have had at Utah State and I believe that we are prepared to utilize it. Not only do we have size but each of our `bigs' have something to bring to the table on the offensive and defensive ends. Our inside game will help us be a more balanced and efficient team," Pebley said. Sophomore Amber White looks to have a breakthrough season for the Aggies this year. White played in 24 games last season, starting one. Fellow forward, senior Shawnta Pope also saw playing time in her first season as an Aggie. Pope played in 17 games for the Aggies last season, averaging 2.2 points per game. Rounding out the group of forwards is Erika Guatavai. The native of Japan saw limited time her freshman season, playing in only five games.
This season, Utah State will play 31 regular season home games, including two home exhibition contests With the two exhibitions, the Aggies have 15 games this season at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, a place where Utah State won five of its nine games last season. This is the most home games that the Aggies have ever played.
USU could play up to five teams that reached the postseason in 2007-08, including UTEP who ended the season ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll. Texas State advanced to the Women's Basketball National Invitational last season. WAC-foe Fresno State earned its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Bulldogs will host Utah State on Feb. 1 and will travel to Logan to end the regular season on March 7.
Utah State tips off the 2008-09 season with two exhibition games against Montana Tech and Dixie State before starting the regular season against Portland on Nov. 14 in a doubleheader with the men's team which is one of three doubleheaders with the men's team this year.
"Starting the season playing five of our first seven games at home is a huge advantage on and off the court. Our program works hard each season to help set up our student-athletes for success in the classroom and non-conference scheduling plays a big role in that. During the fall semester, our team will not miss one day of class due to team travel," Pebley said.
Utah State will play 14 games away from the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Aggies' only travel in November will be to the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 28-29. Utah State will start the Thanksgiving Classic against Texas State on Nov. 28. The tournament will conclude with the Aggies taking on either host UTEP or Monmouth. Other non-conference road contests are instate rivals BYU (Dec. 13), Weber State (Dec. 22) and Utah Valley (Jan. 3), along with UNLV.
Before conference play starts, the Aggies will have seven non-conference home games, including Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Montana State-Northern in the month of November. The Aggies conclude non-conference play with Eastern Washington (Dec. 6), Portland State (Dec. 16) and Southern Utah (Dec. 20).
"We are thrilled to have so many home games this season. With seven in the nonconference portion and eight in WAC play, Aggie fans will have an opportunity to see us in action more than they ever have," said Pebley.
As the Aggies enter their fourth season in the WAC, they will once again play a double round robin format playing all eight WAC teams at home and on the road. USU opens conference play on the road on Jan. 3 at Idaho and concludes WAC action at home against 2007-08 WAC Champion, Fresno State. This year's WAC Tournament returns to Reno, Nev., Mar. 10-14 where the University of Nevada will host the tournament for the third time.
This season, the Aggies will play a very challenging schedule and will play on every day of the week.
"February will be a challenging month in our schedule. We play only one game at home during the entire month. Discipline, depth and momentum will help us attack that month with confidence, " Pebley said.
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