Women's Basketball Plays Final Exhibition Monday

Nov. 9, 2001

Seattle - Husky Basketball Ready to Tip New Season

Monday, Nov. 12:
UW vs. P&P Lady Express, 7 p.m., Bank of America Arena
Exhibition Game

Huskies Ready to Open 2001-2002 Campaign
Coming off of a season in which the Huskies posted a 22-10 overall record, earned a share of the Pac-10 title, and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tounament, the 2001-02 team is ready to get back into high gear. Washington opens its 28th season of women's basketball with three of its five starters returning, five additional letterwinners who have seen extensive playing time, a key redshirt and five talented newcomers. Leading scorer Megan Franza, who finished her career sixth in the school record books with 1,612 points, is gone along with LeAnn Sheets who averaged almost seven rebounds a game in 2001. Four other seniors graduated as well, but the Husky game plan should not skip a beat. The team is young but talented and experienced. The Huskies featured a deep rotation that saw every player on the bench get in the game last year. This season should be no different.

Schedule Changes
There have been some minor changes made to the 2001-02 schedule. The Jan. 19 game against Stanford at home has been changed to a 3:00 p.m. start due to television coverage by Fox Sports Northwest. On Feb. 16 when the Huskies take on the Cal Bears in Berkeley, tip-off will be at 1:00 p.m., not 7:00 p.m., the original time slot. Finally, the Jan. 6 game against USC at home will be changed due to a makeup game for the Seahawks, however date and time are still pending.

The Schedule
Washington faces its usual tough schedule in the 2001-02 campaign, with 10 of its 19 opponents having played in the postseason. The Huskies face six teams that were selected to the NCAA tournament, along with four teams that competed in NIT postseason play. Conference opponents Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon all made Big Dance appearances, with the Cardinal the only team to advance past the first round.

There Is No Place Like Home
The Huskies take two of their star players home when they face Montana State in their first regular-season game of the year. Junior Loree Payne (Havre/Havre HS) and sophomore Andrea Lalum (Bozeman/Bozeman HS) head home for the first time in either player's collegiate career. MSU is located in Bozeman, which just happens to be the hometown of Lalum, a sophomore on this year's team. Former Husky and UW Hall of Famer Karen Deden started the Montana connection back in 1987 when she came out of Sentinal High School in Missoula.

Top Turnarounds
Washington had several impressive turnarounds last year. First and foremost was the Pac-10 swing, from an 8-22 record and ninth place finish in 1999-00, to a 22-10 overall record, 12-6 conference mark and a share of the Pac-10 championship in 2001. The conference swing was the greatest in league history. It was also the second-best turnaround in the country, from one season to the next (behind Baylor). Washington also posted the second-largest turnaround in home game attendance from one year to the next. The Huskies drew 2,338 fans per game in 2000 and saw that number jump to 4,179 per game in 2001. Overall, Washington stood 19th in the country in average attendance.

Leading the Way
Four members of the Washington team will act as captains this year. Heather Reichmann, the lone senior on the squad, earned captain duties for the first time in her career. She will be joined by juniors Loree Payne and Cheryl Sorenson, along with sophomore Giuliana Mendiola. It is Payne's second year as a captain.

Sister Act II
In a unique twist, the 2001-02 Husky roster boasts two sets of sisters, including sophomores Giuliana and Gioconda Mendiola, along with junior Kellie O'Neill and her sister Kristen O'Neill, a freshman this year. The Mendiolas are one year apart in age, almost to the day, but Gioconda took a year off between high school graduation and college so that she could play four years of college ball with her sister. The only other pair of sisters to play together at Washington were Heidi (1993-96) and Molly Hills (1996-99), who overlapped the 1996 season.

Special K
The five newcomers to this year's team are all local standouts from the greater Northwest area, furthering Washington's dominance in recruiting out of their own backyard. The group is led by a trio of the top players in the state, along with a pair of walk-on members. Kirsten Brockman, a forward out of Snohomish, Wash., (Snohomish H.S.) was among the top 10 scorers in the state her junior season and a Street and Smith's honorable mention All-America selection. One of four guards to join the team this season, Kayla Burt from Arlington, Wash., (Arlington H.S.) is expected to continue the long-line of Husky greats at this position. Ranked No. 94 among the top 750 seniors in the class of 2001, Burt was also a Street and Smith's honorable mention All-America selection, along with garnering USA Today honorable mention All-America honors. Kristen O'Neill out of Edmonds, Wash., (Meadowdale H.S.) joins the team as a Parade Magazine third team All-American, Gatorade Player of the Year in the state, and ranked 38th for the national class of 2001. O'Neill comes to Washington as the top recruit out of the state, finishing her prep career 1,154 points, 516 rebounds, 342 steals and 185 blocks. Two walk-ons, Sara Best from Redmond, Wash., (Inglemoor H.S.) and Alicia Heathcote out of Seattle, Wash. (Blanchet/North Seattle CC) will also compete for playing time. Best was a two-sport athlete at the University of Idaho, where she played one year of soccer and redshirted her freshman season of basketball under former Husky Hilary Recknor. Heathcote was a member of the Blanchet High team that won the state championship her sophomore season and made return trips to the tournament in 1997 and 1998, earning third and second place, respectively. The 2001 Husky squad breakdown is as follows: California (2), Montana (2), Oregon (2) and Washington (8).

Welcome Back to the Court
After suffering a knee injury in her junior season, Kirsten Brockman was forced to sit out her entire senior season of high school, and has yet to play a game in over a year. She returned to the court in July and has been steadily improving ever since. With her injury behind her, she is expected to make an immediate impact and the Huskies coaches are calling her 'one of the strongest players we've ever seen.' Also cleared for play is redshirt freshman Sarah Keeler who tore her anterior cruciate ligament at an all-star camp during the summer of 2000. She had surgery prior to her freshman season at Washington and utilized her redshirt last year. Keeler, at 6-foot-4 who figures to be a key factor in replacing graduated senior LeAnn Sheets and her rebounding numbers.

On the Road Again
For the third year in a row Washington opens its season on the road, this time at Montana State. The Huskies are 0-2 in the previous two years, losing, 67-57, at North Carolina State to open the 1999-2000 year and dropping a 77-74 overtime decision at Indiana last year. The Huskies are 17-10 overall in season opening games.

A Quick Look at Montana State and Wisconsin
Montana State is led by Robin Potera, in her first year as head coach of the Bobcats. The team finished with a record of 18-10 last year and has 13 letterwinners returning, including four starters. Washington owns a 12-1 record against MSU and won the last meeting, 77-59, back on Dec. 4, 1997 in Seattle. Wisconsin is led by Jane Albright, in her eighth season at Wisconsin and 18th overall. The Badgers also finished the 2001 season at 18-10 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament. They were ranked 24th in the final AP Top 25 poll. Ten letterwinners return with four starters. The last time the Huskies and Badgers met was in 1990 in a tournament at Colorado State. The Huskies won, 99-91, in overtime on Nov. 23, 1990.

Happy Birthday
Eight Huskies will be celebrating their birthdays in-season this year. Emily Autrey (11/24/80) will no doubt wish for a win on her birthday, as Washington plays day two of the Seattle Times Husky Classic against opponents Northeastern, Princeton, and Santa Clara. Freshman Kirsten Brockman (12/9/82) will blow out 19 candles prior to tip-off of the Les Schwab Pac-10/Big 10 Challenge, where the Huskies will meet Michigan in game No. 2. Other birthdays this season include: Alicia Heathcote (1/26/80), Sarah Keeler (1/28/82), Andrea Lalum (12/5/81), Gioconda Mendiola (1/7/81), Giuliana Mendiola (1/9/82) and Cheryl Sorenson (3/18/80).

Preseason RankingsVoted upon by the coaches of the Pac-10, Washington was tabbed to finish second in the conference race, behind only Stanford who garnered nine first-place votes. USC was the only other school to earn the voter's confidence with one first-place nod. This is the second year in a row that the Cardinal has been picked to win the conference race. For the Huskies, the second place pre-season pick in the coaches poll is their highest vote ever since the inception of the poll in 1998. The previous years have been as follows:2000-01: 6th (tied-UCLA)1999-00: 6th1998-99: 4th

Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll
1. Stanford (9) 81
2. Washington 65
3. USC (1) 63
4. Arizona State 58
5t. Arizona 50
Oregon 50
7. Oregon State 39
8t. California 19
10. Washington State 11

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