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2009 Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day Coverage

 

Mechelle Voepel has covered every Big 12 women's basketball tournament since the league's inception, and every NCAA Women's Final Four since 1993. She has written about women's hoops for ESPN.com since 1996 and also has her own blog, www.voepel.wordpress.com, that focuses on women's sports. If you have any questions, e-mail mvoepel123@yahoo.com and I'll try to answer them here.

We're done for the day here but I'll offer more thoughts the rest of this week on my blog, and thanks for reading today!

Look for 5-7 guard Mariah White - another K-State player out of Oklahoma _ to be one of the top freshmen for the Wildcats in 2009-2010.

Patterson said that Ashley Sweat and Kari Kincaid will be playing with freshmen more than Kimberly Dietz did as a senior in 2008 and Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson did last year. So Sweat and Kincaid as seniors really do have a lot on their shoulders. 

Patterson said that this team will figure out day-by-day what it's going to be. She is not upset about the Wildcats being picked eighth in the Big 12, saying it just reflects the losses K-State has and the caliber of the rest of the league.

The Wildcats will probably be a point guard by committee after the graduation of Shalee Lehning, and Patterson said she expects that it will be something that will continue to evolve through the course of the season.

Kansas State coach Deb Patterson says she's prepared for an adventure this season, in a good way, because of some of the changes on the team.

GG says that freshman Cokie Reed and sophomore Ashley Gayle, both 6-4, may play together at some times, but they would need to be able to defend another team's power forward. Still, that could be a very good young post combo.

The Longhorns have 10 players, and GG says that she feel like anybody might be able to start. She said the depth of the team is not a worry for her, so long as there are no serious injuries.

Texas coach Gail Goestenkors says this is the most excited she's been since coming to Texas in 2007. The schedule is going to test the Horns, though, including Texas having to face UConn in San Antonio.

BTW, Kim Mulkey is always more expansive talking one-on-one than she tends to be in press conferences ... 

Missouri has been picked to finish last again in the conference ... but if Mills is able to play, the Tigers are returning four starters.

Mills reinjured her knee in practice and Stein said that she find out soon how serious it is.

Bekah Mills has been out of practice and it's uncertain what her status is. Toy Richbow, though, has stepped in and played very well at point guard for the Tigers.

Stein said while it's always tough to break into the top six in the Big 12, she doesn't think it's impossible.

Missouri coach Cindy Stein say that it's hard to pick captains because so many players are playing well in practice.

Now we're off to one-on-ones ... will check back in for the final three coaches' press conferences.

Colorado's Brittany Spears says that the Buffs are going to run more this season and she expects to really enjoy that style of play.

Melissa Jones is talking about Brittney Griner ... says she's like a "big teddy bear. We love her."

Earnesia Williams is talking about the car accident she had last March right before the Big 12 tournament ... it gives you chills to hear about it. She says, "I feel like God gave me a second chance."

K-State's Kari Kincaid is doing her student teaching now. She is also planning her wedding. She says getting married is going to help her get over the oncoming "depression" she expects to feel when her basketball career is over.

Missouri's Jessra Johnson is talking about her mom, who is a pastor. She says both her mom and Coach Cindy Stein use the Lord's name ... in different ways.

Baylor's Melissa Jones says the oddest dare she took was that she once ate a live cricket. Poor cricket.

Now on to the student-athlete roundtable (with no table) ... Earnesia Williams is talking about how she came back for one more season (she has already graduated) at Texas because she didn't want her Longhorns career to end in a first-round NCAA loss.

K-Mulk doesn't really like these media-day forums, or at least that's the attitude she projects with answers that are often short and almost brusque.

K-Mulk says Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M should be the Big 12 favorites, not her team. 

Junior Melissa Jones is 5-10, but K-Mulk says that MJ could play any position on the floor if she absolutely needed her to. Jones just has so much heart, it's evident to anyone watching her that she is a team leader.

K-Mulk says that Brittney Griner is more known for her dunks now, of course, but thinks she is going to be a great overall player.

OK, talent actually does win things, but I won't quibble.

"We haven't accomplished anything ... talent doesn't win anything." - so says Kim Mulkey about her freshmen class. But she does say "one day" when things come together, Baylor can be a special team.

Baylor has arrived! Kim Mulkey is the opposite of K-Mac ... she doesn't give any opening statement, just asks for questions.

In general, I don't sense the enthusiasm from Big 12 coaches for the WNBA in Tulsa the way I think they should be responding. It's one of my gripes with college coaches ... I think in general too many of them have been inexplicably "blah" about the WNBA. Not negative, really, just not very excited. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

Kurt Budke said he didn't think having a WNBA team in Oklahoma would have a big impact on his program, but that he was eager to go see the team formerly known as the Shock play in Tulsa next summer.

Just as is the case with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State has a really strong non-conference schedule in November.

Kurt says he was looking for players who were more dedicated to every aspect of being a player in the Big 12. He said some players thought they wanted to make that commitment last year, but they did not. That's the coach's perspective, of course. The players who transferred probably have some other thoughts on that, as is usually the case. 

Andrea Riley can be a leader? Well, we will see. She has a "background" to live down, we all know that. But sometimes players really do grow up a lot as seniors.

Kurt says what he looks for from Andrea Riley is more leadership, says she has more options to throw to this season and has had her best summer since she's been at Oklahoma State. He says there will be some big moments for her this season.

Baylor is on the way, but not here yet. So now we'll go to Oklahoma State and Kurt Budke ... he says chemistry was the difference between the Sweet 16 in 2008 and not making the NCAA Tournament last year.

Virginia, which is K-Mac's alma mater, will visit Boulder on Jan. 2 ... the Buffs went to Charlottesville last season.

The Buffs haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004 ... this is K-Mac's fifth season. Whitney Houston and Brittany Spears are back on the court again for Colorado. Houston missed last season with an ACL injury.

Chucky is of a talent level similar to Brittany Spears, K-Mac says.

You've got to love the name Chucky Jeffery - she's a freshman guard from Colorado Springs. 

K-Mac always gives the longest opening statement of any of the Big 12 coaches. She goes through her thoughts on the team and the season before we ask any questions. 

The Buffs bring in a lot of size, including 6-7 Melissa MacFarlane, who is from Omaha, Neb.

Kathy McConnell-Miller, henceforth to be referred to as K-Mac, said the last six months have been great for Colorado.

Bad news, Bears fans. Baylor has not joined us yet, apparently some transportation problems. Instead, Colorado is starting the afternoon session.

Lunchtime! We'll be back with more from the floor of the Sprint Center as soon as everyone's done chowing ... about 1 p.m.

Oklahoma lost the Paris twins, but the Sooners sure didn't water down the non-conference schedule. It includes UConn, Tennessee, Notre Dame Georgia, South Carolina, San Diego State, Arkansas and TCU.

The Sooners are very pleased with the fact that Abi Olajuwan is in really good shape for the first time in her OU career. Coale joked that she may foul out a lot early because she'll be so happy to be on the floor she'll lose her head. Coale is hilarious.

Coale is talking about how she would never skydive the way Whitney Hand did.

The Sooners have only 10 players on the roster this year, and Coale expects all of them to get playing time.

Oklahoma's Sherri Coale is on the podium and opened by talking about the fact that she, Iowa State's Bill Fennelly and Kansas State's Deb Patterson are the coaches who've been in the league since it started as the Big 12 in 1996.

Yori feels that Cory Montgomery is the most underrated player in the Big 12.

Nebraska's post game is pretty reliable, led by Cory Montgomery and Kelsey Griffin. But a big question for the Huskers will be how well their guards will shoot this season.

Griffin is a really, really good athlete and it will be a lot of fun to see her back in the Big 12 this season.

Yori on Kelsey Griffin, who sat out last year and had two ankle surgeries and has been back playing for only about a month: "She really worked to stay in great shape and it's the best shape she's ever been in. It's great to have her back."

Yori said her husband can't figure out what is wrong with her because she's been in such a good mood after all the practices so far. Good news for the Huskers.

Connie Yori joked she had to wait a while to go on the podium so, "I must have followed Blair, huh?"

Everybody is expecting to be asked about Baylor's Brittney Griner. Wonder why? :)

The Aggies right now are like a talented but not entirely "together" AAU team running up and down the floor, Blair said, and he hopes that in the next couple of weeks Texas A&M starts to play with more cohesion. 

Blair said he is optimistic about the four-guard rotation that he has right now, but his most improved player is forward Adaora Elonu, a sophomore.

Gary Blair is happy with the offensive ability of juco transfer Danielle Adams, who is back in practice after a hamstring injury. 

The Aggies seem pretty happy with the talent they have despite the loss of three starters from last season.

OK, one-on-ones have ended and Gary Blair is up on the podium to speak. 

I'll be taking a break for just a little while as we break down for one-on-on interviews. 

Texas A&M's Sydney Colson is one of two starters returning for the Aggies, so she has to carry a lot of the leadership role.

Whitney Hand says she has to super-glue her fingers because they crack open. Yuck.

Kelsey Griffin says being on the sidelines with an injury gave her an appreciation of how much energy coaches put into games and practice ... she hopes to be a better communicator with her teammates and the coaching staff.

Danielle McCray is talking about her mom working in the commercial fishing industry in Florida. Danielle is also an angler.

Two of these six players in the morning roundtable have parents who have battled cancer: Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin (dad) and Texas Tech's Jordan Murphree (mom).

Senior Alison Lacey didn't go back home to Australia this summer, she stayed at Iowa State to help the younger Cyclones get adjusted.

Oklahoma's Whitney Hand is giving us a detailed recounting of going skydiving in April. It will not surprise you, if you've seen her play, that she is pretty outgoing and expressive telling about jumping out of a plane.

Now we're doing the roundtable thing ... except there is no table. This is kind of interesting because you can tell some things about players' personalities based on how they speak with lots of people listening to them, including some of their peers from other teams. 

I wanted to get Fennelly's thoughts on Stanford, which ended his team's season last year: He thinks their chance to win a national championship will likely rest on whether they can get high-level point guard play. 

Fennelly feels that if senior Alison Lacey is completely healthy, she's as effective as any player in the Big 12. Lacey and Kelsey Bolte, a junior, have a lot on their shoulders. 

Iowa State freshman Anna Prins has a stress fracture and is not practicing much now, but Fennelly says she will change the Cyclones.

Bill Fennelly also seconds how much the Paris twins did for the league, but says their departure is going to put the spotlight on other good players who are back.

Guess what? This is actually my first time inside the Sprint Center ... I already know I'll be spending my birthday here in March when this building is hosting one of the four NCAA regionals.

Curry said that the Paris twins set a standard - not just with their play but their demeanor and how they carried themselves - for future Big 12 post players, including Kierra Mallard. 

It hasn't taken long ... the first South coach has already repeated several times about how things are in the "South" not just in "the Big 12." 

Curry thinks that sophomore center Kierra Mallard is on her way to being the "face" of the Texas Tech program. 

Jordan Murphree is the senior leader that Curry depends on most; she expects Murphree to have a big season.

Curry says that she feels that Texas Tech has done a lot of good things, and that has helped recruiting, but hasn't been able to get a couple of more wins necessary each season to earn consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

Kristy Curry is up next, and once again, we have a whole bunch of newcomers at Texas Tech. There are nine, but one (Casey Morris) has to sit out this season after transferring and another (Shauntal Nobles) will redshirt with an injury.

Rhea Codio, by the way, is a JUCO transfer who is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and went to Independence (Kan.) Community College. Both she and Goodrich are expected to upgrade KU at point guard.

6-5 KU center Krysten Boogaard, "little" sister of a couple of NHL players, is about 16 pounds heavier, which in her case is a very good thing. She's stronger inside, which the Jayhawks will need.

Henrickson is saying that Angel Goodrich, who tore her ACL a year ago, did a very good job physically in rehab, and she has been aggressive/confident in practice.

Big difference for Kansas will be the point guard play ... not just redshirt freshman Angel Goodrich but also Rhea Codio. KU has 15 players and so practice is very competitive. Henrickson said for the first time, really, top players Sade Morris and Danielle McCray have been guarding each other at time in practice.

The Jayhawks are being really straight-forward about saying they have a chance to have a really good season. It's good they are not shying away from that.

Bonnie Henrickson is the first one up, and I have some advantage on this one because I already went to Kansas' media day last week.  

Good morning from Big 12 women's hoops media day!

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