Sept. 30, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - With the start of the 2012-13 season just over a month away, the Tulane University women's basketball team took the court for the first time as entire unit on Sunday afternoon as the Green Wave held their first preseason practice in the Hertz Center.
Spirits were high and optimisim abounds as Tulane returns four starters among 10 letterwinners from a year ago when the Green Wave went 23-11 overall, finished tied for third in Conference USA with a 9-7 league showing, earned a spot in the C-USA Championship game for the third consecutive year and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. The 2012-13 Tulane team features four seniors, one junior, six sophomores and a trio of true freshmen.
"I certainly think it gives you a lot more confidence when you don't have as many questions as we did going into last year," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "We have that experience and only lose one (key) player. We hope to build on a 23-win season from last year and do something really special."
Among the 10 returning players, five - senior guards Olivia Grayson and Tyria Snow, senior forward Janique Kautsky, sophomore forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and sophomore guard Daniell Blagg - started at least 17 games.
Grayson and Blagg - who claimed first-team All-Conference USA and C-USA Freshman of the Year honors, respectively - headline the list. Grayson led the team in with 470 points (13.8 ppg), 119 assists (3.5 apg) and 78 steals (2.3 spg) while ranking second with 200 rebounds (5.9 rpg). Blagg, meanwhile, paced the squad with 54 3-point baskets while finishing third in with 286 points (8.4 ppg). Snow was second on the squad in 111 assists (3.3 apg) and steals 70 (2.1 spg), Ebomwonyi finished second on the team with 193 rebounds (5.7 rpg), and Kautsky finished with averages of 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game a year ago.
"Whitney is a tremendous player and hopefully she will continue to progress," Stockton said. "She's starting practice today and is doing some things today. By the time we tip off (the regular season), we hope she's with us. Having her is very important for us. We also have a great senior class. They've really challenged this team to work hard over the summer. This group has probably put more time in during the summer than any I remember."
All told, Tulane returns 84.6 percent of its scoring output (1,784-of-2,109 points), 77.3 percent of its rebounds (1,057-of-1,367 boards), 91.5 percent of its assists (462-of-505 dimes), 91.9 percent of its steals (298-of-324 thefts) and 55.2 percent of its blocks (90-of-163 swats) from a year ago.
The Green Wave will also welcome the talents of three true freshmen to the squad in center Chinwe Duru (Round Rock, Texas), guard Tierra Jones (Madison, Ala.) and center Morgan Rogers (Shreveport, La.).
Duru was a two-time all-state and District 25-4A MVP during her career at Vista Ridge High where she averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a senior. Jones was rated by ESPN.com as the No. 45 wing nationally and was named second-team all-state and second-team Huntsville Times Elite in each of her final two prep seasons at Bob Jones High, and averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds as a senior when she claimed state and regional all-tournament honors.
Rogers, meanwhile, averaged a double-double during her career at Loyola Prep with 10.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in 107 games. She earned all-district honors all three prep seasons, second-team all-state recognition as a junior and first-team all-state distinction as a senior. Rogers was also tabbed State 3A MVP as a senior after averaging 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game while chipping in with 99 blocks, 34 steals and 19 assists.
Tulane will open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 9, when the Green Wave play host to Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. Season tickets for the 2012-13 Tulane women's basketball season will cost $100 for floor seats, $85 for reserved courtside and $50 for end-court general admission. For additional information, contact the Tulane Atheltics Ticket Office in person on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center. Information is also available over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.