Women's Basketball Kicks Off 2003-04 Season With Nov. 8 Exhibition Game
Nov. 3, 2003
Bruins Face Love and Basketball In First Exhibition - The Bruins will play for the first time in 2003-04 on Saturday, Nov. 8 in a 2:00 pm exhibition matchup in Pauley Pavilion against Love and Basketball, a group of former local collegiate players. Love and Basketball is 1-1 so far on their collegiate tour, having defeated Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, 79-73, and falling in overtime to Pepperdine on Saturday, 93-91.
Greco, Nakase, Hubbard, Philman Returning To Pauley - Amongst the Love and Basketball players are former UCLA standouts, Michelle Greco (1999-03), Natalie Nakase (2000-03), Janae Hubbard (1997-2000) and Marie Philman (1997-2000). Also on the team are former Bruins Jalina Bradley (2000-03) and Sandra VanEmbricqs (1987-90). Greco and Hubbard have been the offensive stars for Love and Basketball thus far. Hubbard led the team with 21 points and eight rebounds against Pepperdine. Greco hammered Cal State Fullerton with 32 points, nine rebounds and four steals after scoring 20 with six assists and four steals against Pepperdine. Philman has averaged 11.5 points in her two games, and Nakase had nine assists in the Fullerton game.
Looking Ahead - UCLA will host the West Coast All-Stars on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7:00 pm in Pauley Pavilion for its final exhibition tune-up. The Bruins open the regular season on Nov. 23 in Pauley Pavilion against UNLV before travelling to play at the University of Texas on Nov. 25. UCLA will return home on Nov. 30 to host Illinois in a game televised nationally by Fox Sports Net.
2003-04 Outlook - Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back 10 letterwinners, including five of the top six scorers, and adds four talented newcomers for the 2003-04 season. Three returning starters are included among the returning players, headlined by returning Pac-10 all-conference performer, Nikki Blue.
The team totaled 18 wins last season, two more than the combined total of the previous two seasons. The total of 12 conference wins was a total which has been surpassed by only two other Bruin teams in history. In addition, the Bruins were one of only two conference teams to post a winning record in league road games last season.
Sophomore guard Nikki Blue is the leading returning scorer (16.6) and rebounder (5.5). Senior forward Jamila Veasley, a starter in 47 career games and all 29 last season, is also back. Senior forward Whitney Jones, a three-year starter who has 60 career starts, returns after the conclusion of the soccer season.
Senior guard Gennifer Arranaga and junior center Sissy Pickett offer some veteran spark. Sophomore Julia Pitts, who started the first eight games of the season and averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, has rehabbed from knee surgery and is also back. Sophomores Lisa Willis, Emma Tautolo and Ortal Oren will look to expand their roles. Sophomore volleyball standout Brittany Ringel returns to action on the hardwood after a year off.
Coach Olivier welcomes four outstanding newcomers to the team. All-Everything guard/forward Noelle Quinn (Bishop Montgomery HS) was regarded by several publications as one of the top recruits in the nation. She averaged 22.9 points per game and helped her team win three CIF Division III championships and four CIF state championships. Forward Amanda Livingston (Troy HS) led her team to a pair of CIF Southern Section Division II-AA titles and averaged 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior. Center Consuelo Lezcano (Marathon HS) is a 6-4 plus in the middle. Guard Shaina Zaidi guided her Marlborough HS team to last year's Division IV-AA CIF Southern Section championship.
Blue Named to Pre-Season All-Conference Team by Media - Nikki Blue was selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team announced at the annual Pac-10 media day in San Jose on Oct. 29. Blue was joined by Stanford's Nicole Powell, USC's Ebony Hoffman, Washington's Giuliana Mendiola and Arizona's Shawntinice Polk.
Bruins Picked To Finish Sixth/Seventh In Pac-10 - The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish sixth in the conference. Stanford, with eight first-place votes, was the solid choice to finish first. The Cardinal were followed by Arizona (two first-place votes), Washington, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Oregon State, California and Washington State.
The Pac-10 media poll also tabbed Stanford (180) for the top spot. Next was Arizona (142), Washington (140) and Arizona State (121). USC was picked to finish fifth (105) followed by Oregon (90), UCLA (83), Oregon State (63), California (36) and Washington State (20).
San Jose to Host Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament - The 2003-04 season will conclude with the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be played once again this season at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA on March 5-8. All conference schools will participate in the tournament, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2003 NCAA tournament. The team that finishes the regular season atop the Pac-10 standings, based on the results of the double round robin play, is the conference champion.
Bruins to Open Season At Home Vs. UNLV - UCLA will meet UNLV in the season opener in Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 23. UCLA leads the series with the Running Rebel by a 6-0 count. The Bruins captured last season's meeting in Las Vegas by a 72-64 count.
Challenging Schedule Ahead For Bruins - Once again, UCLA's schedule will be a challenging one, as the Bruins could play 17 regular season games against teams which advanced to post-season play last season. Non-conference games will be played against NCAA Tournament teams from Texas, Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State. In addition, the Bruins will face the usual Pac-10 Conference foes.
Multi-Sport Stars Expected to Join Team In December - Two-sport athlete Whitney Jones is a starting midfielder for the highly-ranked UCLA women's soccer team. The soccer playoffs run through December 7 this season. Jones will join the team at the conclusion of the season. Brittany Ringel is a starting outside hitter for the nationally-ranked volleyball team. The volleyball playoffs end December 20.
The 2002-03 Bruins Highlights -
*Michelle Greco won the Pac-10 scoring title (18.9) for the second time in her career
*Nikki Blue became just the second Bruin freshman to earn first-team all-conference honors (only seven freshmen in conference history have been selected to the first team
*The team set a school record for free throw shooting percentage with a mark of .716
* Greco also led the conference in steals (2.79 per game)
*The Bruins led the Pac-10 in steals last season (13.21) and turnover margin (+6.86)
* The Bruins set a school record with 147 made three-points shots
* The Bruin opponent scoring average of 67.1 was the fourth-lowest ever given up by a Bruin team
*Nikki Blue's 35 points set a school record for most points scored by a UCLA freshman
* The Bruins improved their scoring average from 59.0 to 73.0 last season
Player Bio Updates
#00 Ortal Oren - Saw action in 11 games last season ... Had a high of nine points against both Washington State and CSUN ... Member of the Israeli Junior National team ... Team won the Israeli School Championships in her senior year.
#3 Shaina Zaidi - Point guard who helped her team win the CIF Division IV-AA Southern Section championship and advance to the CIF State Regional Division IV finals as a senior ... Averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists as a senior ... Adidas Super 60 selection after her junior and senior seasons.
#10 Whitney Jones - Starting midfielder on the soccer team who is expected to join the team in December ... Three-year basketball starter with 60 career starts ... Ranked 10th on the all-time UCLA free throw list (.736) and fifth in made three-point shots in her career ... Had her fourth career double-double last season with 24 points and 10 rebounds versus Oregon.
#11 Julia Pitts - Starter in the first eight games of last season ... Averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shot .674 from the field ... Suffered a left knee injury in the first half of the Baylor game ... Had surgery last Dec. 30.
#13 Gennifer Arranaga - Appeared in all 29 games last season and has seen action in the last 60 games in a row ... Sparked the Bruins to key wins over Arizona and USC ... Named all-tournament at the Las Vegas Shootout last season.
#21 Brittany Ringel - Starter at outside hitter on the volleyball team ... Will join the basketball squad in December following the NCAA volleyball tournament ... Sat out last year after playing on the basketball team during her true freshman year of 2001-02.
#22 Consuelo Lezcano - Exciting freshman who was a volleyball and basketball star at Marathon, FL High School ... Scored over 2,100 points in her prep career ... Averaged 22 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks per game as a senior.
#31 Amanda Livingston - Led her team to the State championship as a senior in the school's first ever trip to the title game ... Averaged 17.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a senior.
#32 Nikki Blue - Starter in all 29 games last season ... Just the second Bruin ever to be named first-team All-Pac-10 as a freshman ... Also selected to the Pac-10's All-Freshman team and to the Pac-10 All-Tournament team ... Ranked first on the team in rebounds and assists and was second in scoring ... Finished fifth in the Pac-10 in scoring, sixth in assists, second in steals and eighth in assist/turnover ratio ... Set a UCLA freshman scoring record with 35 points against Washington ... Named to the pre-season All-Pac-10 team at the 2003-04 conference media day.
#35 Jamila Veasley - Starter in all 29 games last season and 47 games overall in her career ... Ranked seventh in the conference in blocked shots (0.69) a year ago ... Scored a career-high 12 points in the win last season at Oregon.
#40 Lisa Willis - Appeared in all 29 games and excelled on the perimeter with 46 made three-pointers (second on UCLA freshman list) and on defense with 55 steals ... Seventh in the Pac-10 in three-point shots made (1.59/g) ... Had 11 double figure scoring games and made at least one three-point shot in 21 games as a freshman.
#44 Emma Tautolo - Appeared in 26 games last season ... Averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds ... Had bests of nine points and five rebounds versus Hawaii.
#45 Noelle Quinn - All-Everything freshman who helped lead her team to three CIF Division III championships, four California Regional Division III crowns and four CIF state championships ... Parade Magazine and McDonald's All-American ... Averaged 22.9 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior.
# 54 Sissy Pickett - Saw action in 12 games last season ... Averaged 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds ... Had six points in the win over St. Mary's ... Career 77% free throw shooter.
Head Coach Kathy Olivier - Now entering her 11th season (owns a 148-139 overall record) as UCLA head coach, Kathy Olivier has steadily built the program to reflect her own positive, upbeat and outgoing personality.
In 2003, the team posted 12 wins in conference play, a total surpassed by only two other previous UCLA teams. Her team was one of only two Pac-10 squads to own a winning record on the road. The team improved its scoring average from 59.0 in the 2001-02 season to 73.0 points per game. Olivier has coached the only two Bruins players to be named first-team All-Pac-10 as freshmen (Nikki Blue and Maylana Martin).