WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM TRAVELS TO HAWAI'I FOR WAHINE TOURNAMENT
November 15, 2012
MARTIN, Tenn. – When Kevin McMillan heard he had a chance to go to Hawaii and play No. 1 Baylor and No. 4 Stanford in the Jack In the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic he jumped at the opportunity.
The rest of the team might not have been as anxious as the fourth-year head coach Kevin McMillan, but the idea grew on the two-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champions.
“We are excited about Hawai’I, but we are going there for business,” UT Martin junior Heather Butler said. “We are going there to get experience against the best teams in the country such as Baylor and Stanford.”
Baylor went undefeated a year ago and claimed the national championship. Stanford is a 12-time PAC 10 champion and the Rainbow Wahine gets an advantage because it is the tournament host.
“We have played good teams in the past,” McMillan said.
For the past two seasons, the Skyhawks have faced off against a No. 2 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. One year it was host Duke and this past year it was Tennessee. In addition, the Skyhawks have played teams such as Indiana State, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss, Memphis, Louisville and Purdue during the regular season.
“We thought if we play good teams every year we could get better and better and better. It was kind of a plan all along,” McMillan said. “It kind of turned into a big storm when those two (Baylor and Stanford) jumped in and we lost some kids, and are having to fill some holes.”
The Skyhawks return three starters, Butler, Jasmine Newsome and Shelby Crawford. The trio is complimented by returners Megan White and Shelby Crawford and seven true freshmen. Among the freshman are Briana McDonald, Cortrice Golden, Chelsey Hall, Katie Schubert, Sydney Vanlandingham, Barianne Taylor and Ashley Bassett-Smith.
The influx of newcomers will slow the Skyhawks down, “but it is not like we started four years ago because we have five kids that have won two championships,” McMillan said.
However, it is like starting over. “We are trying to figure out how to fit a team together, and right now it is going to take some time to get all those pieces to work in harmony.”
The Skyhawks have two games under their collective belt, a road loss at Northwestern and a home victory over Arkansas State. In the loss at Northwestern, Butler and Newsome combined for 50 of the team’s 69 points. In the home win, the guards chipped in 31 of the team’s 72 points.
The Skyhawks will open the tournament Friday night against Hawai’i. Tipoff is set for 10 p.m. CT. The Skyhawks will play defending national champion and the No. 1-ranked Baylor women on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. and then battle 12-time defending PAC-12, No. 4 Stanford at 10 p.m., Sunday.
The Skyhawks are 1-1 going into the tournament after a loss at Northwestern and a home win over Arkansas State. Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler have been the catalysts for UTM averaging 20.5 and 20.0 points respectively through the first two games.
The two-time defending OVC champions are led by head coach, Kevin McMillan (56-40) who is in his fourth year with the Skyhawks.
About the Hawai’I Rainbow Wahine
The Rainbow Wahine return six letter winners—including three starters—from last year's team that posted an overall record of 11-19 and a 6-8 mark in their final season in the Western Athletic Conference. UH welcomes into the fold seven newcomers—including redshirt freshman Ashleigh Karaitiana; fifth-year senior and softball All-American Stephanie Ricketts; three transfers (DeAngelis, Moore, and Pua Kailiawa); and three true freshman (King, Marissa Wimbley, and Brianna Higgins).
About the Baylor Bears
The defending NCAA champions who went 40-0 last season, are now 2-0 this season. Senior center, Brittney Griner posted 24 points in just 18 minutes of action on 10-of-17 shooting against Lamar. Junior guard Odyssey Sims is second on the team after scoring 11 points.
Both Griner and Sims were selected to the Associated Press' women's basketball preseason All-America team. Griner became just the third player in history to be a two-time unanimous choice.
About the Stanford Cardinal
The NCAA semi-finalist Cardinal come to Hawai'i with a 2-0 record after a 72-61 home win over Fresno State and a 92-57 win at Santa Clara. Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike leads a trio of players who are averaging more than 10-points a game. Ogwumike, the reigning PAC-12 Player of the Week, is averaging 22.5 points per game.
Head coach Tara VanDerveer is in her 34th season overall and has a 863-200 career record and a 711-149 mark at Stanford.