Women's Basketball Opens 2002 Season at Hawaii on Nov. 23

Nov. 20, 2002

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At Hawaii Tournament - The Bruins will open the regular season at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Classic hosted by the University of Hawaii. UCLA's first opponent will be the host school, Hawaii, on Nov. 23. The Bruins will play Sacramento State on Nov. 24. UCLA opens up the home slate with a game versus St. Mary's on Dec. 3 at 7:00 pm.

UCLA leads the series with the Rainbow Wahine by a 4-0 count. The teams will be playing for the first time since the 1984 season (a 70-48 Bruin win in Pauley). Hawaii went 23-8 last season, placed second in the WAC, and advanced to the WNIT tournament. The Bruins hold a 1-0 series advantage over the Hornets (last meeting in 1975).Sac State went 0-27 last season and finished last in the Big Sky Conference. Coach Kathy Olivier has not announced her starting lineup for the Bruins.

UCLA In Season Openers - The Bruins are 20-8 all-time in season openers and won their opener last season against Liberty, 62-55, at Michigan State. The Bruins' game vs. Hawaii (23-9 and a NWIT team a year ago) marks the fifth consecutive year UCLA has faced a post-season tournament team in its season opener. In 2000, the Bruins lost to No. 5 Duke; in 1999, the Bruins defeated No. 8 North Carolina 69-65; and in 1998, UCLA lost to No. 17 Notre Dame, 99-82.

Bruins Wrap-Up Exhibition Play With Win Vs. West Coast All-Stars - The UCLA women's basketball team closed exhibition play with a 90-76 win over West Coast All-Stars on Sunday, Nov. 17. Michelle Greco, with 26 points, and Julia Pitts, with 23 points, led the way for the Bruins. Greco added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals while Pitts added 14 rebounds.

Love and Basketball Game Recap - The Bruins fell just short in the 2002-03 exhibition opener to Love And Basketball, 77-74. Michelle Greco led UCLA by scoring 12 points. Freshmen Julia Pitts, Nikki Blue and Lisa Willis totaled 11 points apiece. UCLA led the game at halftime, 42-40, but Love And Basketball started the second half on a 15-4 run and went on to post the win.

2002-03 Outlook - Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back nine letterwinners, including four of the top five scorers, and adds five talented newcomers for the 2002-03 season. Four returning starters are back, as is the 2001 Pac-10 scoring champ Michelle Greco, who is cleared to play after a medical redshirt season a year ago.

Senior point guard Natalie Nakase, a starter in the last 58 straight Bruin games, returns after a season in which she improved her scoring average, (4.4 to 7.9), assists average (4.4 to 5.1), rebound average (1.9 to 3.1) and free throw percentage (.500 to .783). Senior guard Jalina Bradley, who has 39 career starts, has improved her scoring average for three straight seasons. Junior forward Whitney Jones led the team in scoring last season (9.5) and is also the leading returning rebounder (5.2). Junior forward Jamila Veasley, a starter in 18 games last season, is also back.

Greco, who was averaging 23.6 points per game before going to the sidelines after five games last season, led the Pac-10 in scoring in 2001 (19.9). Doctors recommended that she sit out the remainder of last season upon reviewing test results conducted after mild concussions in her sophomore and junior seasons.

Junior Gennifer Arranaga, who was UCLA's hottest player at the end of last season, averaging 17 points and six boards in her last four games, and senior Natalie Jarrett offer veteran spark off the bench. Krystle Johnson and Sissy Pickett provide experience in the frontcourt. Walk-on senior Melissa Maurin rounds out the list of returning players.

Coach Olivier welcomes five outstanding newcomers to the team. All-Everything guard Nikki Blue (West High School in Bakersfield, CA) was regarded by several publications as the No. 1 combo guard in the nation. Guard-forward Lisa Willis was a member of one the nation's most successful prep programs at Narbonne High School. Guard Ortal Oren was a member of the Israeli Junior National team. Forward Julia Pitts was the Cal-Hi Sports Female Athlete of the Year after starring the sports of basketball, volleyball and track at North Torrance High School. Forward-center Emma Tautolo, daughter of former Bruin footballer, John, averaged 21 points a game at Moreno Valley High School.

Greco Named Pre-Season All-Conf. - Michelle Greco was selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team for the second consecutive year. She was joined by Stanford's Nicole Powell, USC's Ebony Hoffman, Washington's Loree Payne and Oregon's Shaquala Williams.

Pac-10 Pre-Season Polls - The Pac-10 media selected the Bruins to finish seventh in the conference race this season in a pre-season poll. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Washington (two first-place votes), Oregon, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State, California and Washington State.

The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish eighth in the conference. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Washington, Oregon (one first-place vote), USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, California and Washington State.

Greco Named Pre-Season All-American - Michelle Greco was selected to the Women's Basketball News Service pre-season All-America second team, joining Stanford's Nicole Powell (first team) as the only two Pac-10 honorees.

Blue Earns Pre-Season Honors - Freshman guard Nikki Blue was selected by Women's College Hoops.com as one of 21 'Freshmen of Impact' for 2002-03 and was also named to the Women's Basketball News Service pre-season All-Freshman team.

Oren To Sit Out Three Games - Freshman guard Ortal Oren must sit out the first three regular season games this year for playing on a club team in Israel with players the NCAA considered to be professionals.

Pac-10 Tournament Notes - The 2002-03 season will conclude with the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be played at the HP Pavilion in San Jose,CA on March 7-10. 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.

Jones Back After Soccer - Two-sport athlete Whitney Jones is a starting midfielder for the nationally-ranked UCLA women's soccer team. The soccer playoffs run through Dec. 8, and the Bruins will face Texas A&M in the third round this weekend. Jones, UCLA basketball's leading scorer in 2002 with a 9.5 per game average and the Bruins' top returning rebounder with a 5.2 average, will join the team at the conclusion of the soccer season.

Greco Aims For Record Books - Senior guard Michelle Greco will look to keep climbing the UCLA scoring charts in 2002-03. Already ranked No. 15 on the career points chart with 1,158 points, Greco is nine points away from tying the great Jackie Joyner for 14th place. Greco needs just 64 points to break into UCLA's Top 10. Greco looks to challenge Denise Curry's long-standing career free throw percentage mark of .818. Entering the year, Greco holds a career free throw percentage of .813.

Head Coach Kathy Olivier - Now entering her 10th season with a 130-128 overall record as UCLA head coach, Kathy Olivier has steadily built the program to reflect her own positive, upbeat and outgoing personality.

In 2002, she directed a team which lost its top two scorers during the season to the second round of the Pac-10 tournament and a win over Sweet Sixteen team BYU. In 2001, Olivier guided a team which playing without eight of its top nine scorers from the previous season to a winning home record in Pac-10 play and wins over three nationally-ranked teams. In 2000, she saw her team reach the NCAA tournament for a school record third straight season. The squad also set a Bruin home attendance record by averaging over 3,700 fans. Maylana Martin was just the third player to ever earn All-Pac-10 honors in four straight seasons. Olivier became just the second coach at UCLA and the 11th ever in the Pac-10 to earn victory number 100, which came against San Diego State.

In 1999, she led her Bruin team to the school's first ever Pac-10 conference title. The team totaled the most wins (26) since the 1981 season and advanced further in the NCAA tournament (Regional final) than any previous UCLA team. The team put together back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1970's. In addition, the 1999 Bruin team finished with its highest ranking ever (No. 7) in the USA Today poll.

In 1998, she guided UCLA to what was then its best finish ever (tie for second) in the Pac-10, its best winning percentage in the last 17 seasons and the first 20-win season since 1992.

Upcoming Special Events - The UCLA men's and women's basketball teams will hold toy drives at home games on Dec. 17 and Dec. 21.

Recruiting Class Ranked In Top 10 - Blue Star Report (No. 7) and All Star Girls Report (No. 6) have ranked Kathy Olivier's 2002 early signing period recruiting class among the top 10 in the nation.

On November 14, Olivier announced the signing of Noelle Quinn of Bishop Montgomery High School (Torrance, CA), forward Amanda Livingston of Troy High School (Fullerton, CA), center Consuelo Lezcano of Marathon High School in Florida and guard Shaina Zaidi from Marlborough High in Los Angeles.

Quinn, a 6-0 guard, averaged 21.9 points, 11.6 boards, 3.8 steals and 2.3 blocks last season while being named the California State Player of the Year for Division III. She helped lead her team to three consecutive CIF Division III state championships and was also chosen the Division III-A CIF Southern Section Player of the Year as a junior. Quinn is ranked as the No. 1 two-guard in the country in the class of 2003 by All-Star Girls Report and as the number eight recruit in the nation by Student Sports.

Livingston, a 6-1 forward, averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds a game as a junior last season at Troy High School. She was first-team All-CIF II-AA and led her team to a 29-4 record and the final of the Southern Section Division 2-A.

Lezcano, a 6-4 center, is considered one of the top five prep players in Florida. She averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks a game as a junior at Marathon High School and is ranked amongst the top-30 post players in the country by All-Star Girls Report.

Zaidi, a 5-8 point-guard, averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Marlborough High School last season. She earned all-league honors and was named first-team Division IV-AA All-CIF Southern Section.

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