Women’s basketball begins season against some of country’s top teams

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    By Leigh Dethman

    The Cougars start off the regular season Friday, Nov. 22, against the toughest opponent on their schedule, the No. 11 Texas Longhorns.

    Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. tonight at in the Marriott Center.

    Women”s basketball coach Jeff Judkins said the team is excited to see how the Cougars match up against a nationally ranked team.

    “We know we are playing a top team in the country,” Judkins said. “It should be a good game. We have a lot to prove. We”ll find out how good we really are Friday.”

    Both Texas and BYU play man-to-man defense and run a motion offense.

    Judkins said the Longhorns have a physical center in 6-foot-1 junior Stacy Stephens, who led Texas in scoring and rebounding the last two years.

    “Stephens is very physical,” Judkins said. “She is strong and tough.”

    Texas also has some big guards, especially 6-foot-2 sophomore Heather Schreiber, who averaged 13.6 points per game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.

    “Texas has some big girls,” sophomore forward Danielle Cheesman said. “We”ll have to get our rebounds and get in position. It will be tough.”

    The Longhorns employ a swarming defense that can stop any high-scoring offensive team.

    “Texas has a very quick and physical team,” Judkins said. “We”re really going to have to deal with their presence.”

    The Longhorns beat the Cougars 90-74 in a preseason match last season in Texas. Tonight the Cougars seek to avenge that loss.

    “Last year we blew it,” Thorn said. “We want revenge.”

    Last season, the Longhorns lost in the Sweet Sixteen to Duke University, the East”s No. 1 seed.

    Senior guard Erin Thorn said BYU”s march to the Sweet Sixteen last season taught the Cougars that they can play with the top teams in the country.

    “We played a close game with Tennessee, and we didn”t even have our best game,” Thorn said. “Those top teams are not that much above us.”

    Judkins said he knows his team can play at the same level as teams like Texas and Tennessee.

    “Last season we were against Tennessee, one of the top women”s basketball programs forever,” Judkins said. “We were right with them. If we keep getting better and keep improving, we have a chance to be that good.”

    Judkins said the team has confidence they can succeed.

    “They believe they can go out on the court and beat anybody on any given night,” Judkins said.

    Tonight”s game against Texas is the first of seven games against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last year.

    “We have a really hard preseason schedule,” Judkins said. “I did it that way for a reason- to make us better. If we can win nine or 10 games, it will give us a lot of confidence.”

    Although playing the No. 11 team in the nation is a tough way to start the year, Judkins said it is an exciting way to start things up.

    “If we can get this game, it will be a great start for our season,” Judkins said.

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