UCLA Wraps Up Exhibition Play Sunday Against Team SRP

Nov. 4, 2008

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DATE: Nov. 9, 2008
OPPONENT: Team SRP (Exhibition)
SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)
TIP-OFF: 2:05 p.m.
TICKETS: $12 adults/$10 youth (Reserved), $8 adults/$6 youth (GA), UCLA Central Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN)
AUDIO/VIDEO: uclabruins.com
TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Michael Sondheimer (color)
WEB: uclabruins.com

Exhibition Play Concludes Sunday
The Bruins will play their final exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 9 against Team SRP at 2 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA won its first exhibition contest against Love & Basketball on Nov. 2 by a score of 86-80. Sophomore guard Doreena Campbell led the way for the Bruins against Love & Basketball with 16 points. Three Bruins - guards Erica Tukiainen and Tierra Henderson, and center Moniquee Alexander - added 11 points each. Henderson also recorded seven assists and seven rebounds. Center Chinyere Ibekwe topped the Bruin rebound list with 12 and scored eight points. Freshman Rebekah Gardner scored nine points in her Bruin debut.

The Bruins open the regular season against Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.

Coach Nikki Caldwell
On April 17, 2008, UCLA announced the hiring of Nikki Caldwell as head women's basketball coach. Caldwell joined the Bruins after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee for the past six seasons, including the last two National Championship campaigns in 2007 and 2008. In her 14 seasons as a collegiate player (1991-1994 at Tennessee) and as an assistant coach (Tennessee 1999, Virginia 2000-02, Tennessee 2003-08), Caldwell's teams have posted an amazing 404-76 record and appeared in the NCAA Tournament each season, while winning three national championships.

2008-09 Outlook
The focus of the UCLA team this year is a theme of 'earned, never given.' The Bruins will feature an up-tempo style of play based on defense and control of the boards.

'The defense will seek to delay and disrupt,' says Head Coach Nikki Caldwell. 'We will change our defenses up and extend it at times. We want to control the boards to control the tempo of the game. On offense, we will focus on player movement, ball movement and spacing. Our players will move with a purpose and take care of the ball.'

Two Bruin seniors return to the fold and will be keys to helping trigger the defensive pressure and maxing out the energy on the boards, which is stressed by coach Caldwell. Guard Tierra Henderson, a first-team All-Pac-10 Defensive team selection, led the team and ranked third in the conference in steals per game (2.0). Center/forward Chinyere Ibekwe saw action in 28 games last season with three starts and will be asked to commit to being a 'defensive stopper in the post and an animal on the boards.'

Three juniors are also back. Erica Tukiainen is a versatile wing player who started in 15 of the final 16 contests last year. She can shoot the three and handle multiple positions on the court. Center Moniquee Alexander started 15 games a year ago and will be counted on to become a presence on the low block and to anchor the paint. Guard Allison Taka is one of the team's most capable outside shooters.

Five members of one of UCLA's most productive freshman classes return after posting combined averages of 29.4 points and 15 rebounds while starting a total of 59 games. Three returning players (guard Doreena Campbell, first team; forward Nina Earl and guard Darxia Morris, honorable mention) were selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Campbell started in 30 games, ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in assists (3.37) and was named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 team. Earl appeared in all 31 games with 15 starts. She was tied for second on the team with Campbell in scoring at 8.7 points per game. Morris ranked ninth in the conference in steals (1.64) and averaged 7.5 points per game. She appeared in 28 games and started in 12 contests. Forward/center Christina Nzekwe played double-figure minutes in 25 of her 31 games last season while averaging 3.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. Forward Candice Brown saw action in 26 games with two starts and ranked fourth on the team in blocked shots (10).

A couple of highly regarded freshmen, guard Rebekah Gardner (Ayala HS) and guard/forward Atonye Nyingifa (Redondo Union HS), also join the mix. Both players were named their division's CIF Southern Section Player of the Year in 2008.

What's Returning
70% - Field Goals Made (547-786)
70% - Games Started (109/155)
77% - Minutes Played (47 63/6225)
70% - Points Scored (1448/2083)
70% - Rebounds (811/1155)
64% - 3-Pt. Field Goals (61/96)
83% - Assists (333/401)
88% - Steals (151-244)
49% - Blocks (50/102)

New Staff In Place
Coach Caldwell has assembled an impressive coaching staff featuring Stacie Terry, Tony Perotti and Tasha Butts.

Terry coached last season at the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked primarily with the perimeter players, and her responsibilities included recruiting coordinator, opponent scouting and film breakdown, assisting with summer camps, as well as coordinating all of the team's community service events. Terry has also been an assistant at the University of Illinois, Dayton and Louisville.

Perotti comes to UCLA from Northern Arizona University, where he spent the last four seasons as an assistant. The past two years he was associate head coach. Perotti served primarily as the team's recruiting coordinator, game scouting coordinator and in the development of perimeter players. Perotti has also been an assistant at the University of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Tennessee.

Butts, a standout player at the University of Tennessee (2001-04) and then in the WNBA, came West from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), where she was an assistant coach in 2007-08.

In addition, Pam Walker will continue on staff as the Director of Operations after serving on the Bruin coaching staff for the previous 19 seasons.

Pre-Season Prognostications
The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish fifth in the conference in the annual pre-season poll. Stanford, with six first-place votes, was a slight favorite to finish first. The Cardinal (78 points) were followed by Cal (four first-place votes, 76), Arizona State (65), USC (55), UCLA (48), Oregon (40), Washington (27), Oregon State (25), Washington State (20), and Arizona (16).

Challenging Schedule
The Bruins will face a schedule that features seven teams which advanced to post-season play last season. Five appeared in the NCAA Tournament (Maryland, San Diego, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal), and two played in the Women's NIT (Texas Tech, Kansas).

Looking Ahead
UCLA opens up the regular season at home on Sunday Nov. 16 against Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA last met the Titans in November of 2006 and captured an 84-74 decision in Fullerton. Fullerton was 11-19 overall last season and finished tied for fifth in the Big West Conference with an 8-8 mark.

UCLA has won its last two openers and has a 23-11 all-time record in first games. The Bruins defeated Cal State Northridge last season, in Northridge, by a score of 81-69 on Nov. 14, 2007.

Player Bio Updates
#1 Nina Earl -- Started and scored eight points v. Love and Basketball ... Appeared in all 31 games last season ... Played at least 20 minutes in 24 games ... Starter in 13 of the last 19 games of the season and in 15 overall ... Scored in double digits 11 times and set career-bests when she recorded her first double-double at Arizona (23 points and 10 rebounds) ... Ranked 20th in the Pac-10 in scoring (8.7) ... Earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 Freshman and All-Pac-10 Defensive team recognition ... Made her first career start against Cal Poly and scored 17 points ... Totaled 13 points in her first collegiate game at Cal State Northridge.
Career Highs: Pts. 23 at Arizona, 12/30/07; Reb. 10 at Arizona, 12/30/07; Asst. 4 vs. Oregon State, 1/26/08; Stls. 4, last v. USC, 3/8/08; Blk. 1, last vs. Washington State, 2/8/08.

#2 Tierra Henderson -- Started and totaled 11 points, seven rebounds, seven assists v. Love and Basketball ... Selected to the first-team Pac-10 All-Defensive team last season ... Ranked tied for third in the Pac-10 in steals per game (2.00) ... Saw action in all 31 games and made 10 starts last season ... Scored in double figures in seven games last season ... Led the team in scoring in three games ... Scored a career-high 16 points vs. Oregon State ... Ranked 10th in shooting % in Pac-10 only games (.441) ... Had 11 games with at least three steals.
Career Highs: Pts. 16 v. Oregon State, 1/26/08; Reb. 8 v. Gonzaga, 11/24/06; Asst. 7 vs. Arizona, 3/1/08; Stls. 7, last at Arizona, 12/30/07; Blk. 1 vs. Cal Poly SLO, 11/20/07.

#3 Darxia Morris -- Has not been medically cleared for games after undergoing knee surgery in March following the 2007-08 campaign ... Saw action in 28 games and was a starter in 12 games last season ... Named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 Freshman and Pac-10 All-Defensive teams ... Ranked ninth in the conference in steals (1.64) ... Scored team-high 19 points (9-11 fg) in Pac-10 Tournament win over USC ... Scored team-best 20 points in win over then No. 2-ranked Stanford ... Led all players with 21 points vs. Cal Poly SLO ... Scored 12 in her first collegiate game at Cal State Northridge ... Scored in double digits in nine games ... Had 12 games with at least three assists and 13 games with at least two steals.
Career Highs: Pts. 21 v. Cal Poly SLO, 11/20/07; Reb. 6 v. UC Riverside, 12/21/07; Asst. 5, last v. Washington, 2/10/08; Stls. 6 at Arizona, 12/30/07; Blk. 1, last at Arizona, 12/30/07.

#4 Christina Nzekwe -- Started and scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds vs. Love and Basketball ... Played double figure minutes in 25 of the 31 games she played in last season ... Netted 16 of her last 22 free throw attempts on the season ... Had eight points, seven rebounds and four steals in big win at Washington ... Scored eight at BYU ... Tied for the team lead with eight rebounds v. Cal Poly SLO ... Scored at least six points in seven games ... Named to Director's honor roll.
Career Highs: Pts. 8 at Washington, 1/10/08; Reb. 8 v. Cal Poly SLO, 11/20/07; Asst. 2, last vs. Arizona, 3/1/08; Stls. 4 at Washington, 1/10/08; Blk 1, last v. Stanford, 3/9/08.

#10 Allison Taka -- Had a basket, two rebounds and an assist against Love and Basketball ... Appeared in five games last season ... Had two assists in Pac-10 Tournament win over USC ... Handed out three assists at Washington State ... Earned a spot on the Director's Honor Roll in all three academic quarters.
Career Highs: Pts. 2, last vs. Washington State, 3/2/07; Reb. 1 v. UCSB, 11/12/06; Asst. 3 at Washington State, 1/14/08; Stls. 1 v. Cal Poly SLO, 11/20/07.

#11 Atonye Nyingifa -- Had three rebounds in 10 minutes of action against Love and Basketball ... Played at Redondo Union HS in Redondo Beach, CA for coach Marcelo Enriquez ... Scored 2,192 points in her prep career ... Averaged 21.2 points and 12.2 rebounds as a senior ... Led her team to the CIF Division I-A title last season ... Named CIF SS I-A Co-Player of the Year ... Won two CIF Southern Section championships (2008 - IA, 2005-IIA).

#13 Erica Tukiainen -- Scored 11 off the bench with six rebounds against Love and Basketball ... Team co-captain in 2008 ... Appeared in 31 games with 22 starts last season ... Saw action in double figure minutes in 26 games ... Started 15 of the final 16 games of the season ... Had 22 games with one turnover or less ... Had three double digit scoring games ... Named honorable mention all-conference academic team ... Made her first career start last season at Cal State Northridge ... Earned a spot on the Director's Honor Roll in all two academic quarters.
Career Highs: Pts. 12, last at Washington State, 1/14/08; Reb. 9 at Cal State Northridge, 11/14/07; Asst. 4, last at Arizona, 12/30/07; Stl. 3 vs. Southern, 12/2/07; Blk. 1, last at Oregon State, 2/21/08.

#21 Doreena Campbell -- Started and led the team with 16 points against Love and Basketball ... Started in all 30 games in which she played last season ... Earned honorable mention all-conference honors and was named to the first-team All-Pac-10 freshman team ... Ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in assist / turnover ratio (1.68) ... Eighth in the conference in assists (3.37) ... Led the team in assists with 101, which ranked as the sixth-highest total ever by a Bruin freshman ... Scored in double figures in 13 games ... Had five games with no turnovers and six with one ... Converted 36 of her last 44 free throw attempts ... Played at least 30 minutes in 20 games ... Her three-point shooting percentage of .434 was the second-highest ever by a freshman at UCLA and the third-highest in school history ... Had 13 double digit scoring games. ... Director's Honor Roll in Fall of 2007.
Career Highs: Pts. 15 v. Maryland (11/25/07); Reb. 8, last at Oregon (2/23/08); Asst. 8 at Arizona St. (12/28/07); Stl. 7 at CS Northridge (11/14/07); Blk. 2 v. Idaho St. (12/1/07).

#23 Chinyere Ibekwe -- Started and led the team with 12 rebounds against Love and Basketball ... Saw action in 28 games and made three starts last season ... Had a season-high of nine points at Stanford and nine rebounds at Cal ... Pulled down at least four rebounds in 17 contests ... Played at least 10 minutes in 14 games.
Career Highs: Pts. 21 v. Gonzaga, 11/24/06; Reb. 13 at Arizona State, 11/18/07; Asst. 2, last v. Sacramento St., 1/28/07; Stl. 3 at Tennessee, 11/16/06; Blk. 3 at Tennessee, 11/16/06.

#24 Candice Brown -- Came off the bench to score five points against Love and Basketball ... Saw action in 26 games and made two starts (at Oregon State and at Oregon) last season ... Score four or more points in five games with a best of six points in three games ... Had three or more rebounds in 12 games with a best of seven at USC ... Had 10 blocks on the season, including career-bests of two against USC in the Pac-10 Tournament and at Oregon ... Played double figure minutes in 11 games, with a season-high of 29 at Oregon.
Career Highs: Pts. 6, last at Oregon, 2/23/08; Reb. 7 at USC, 1/19/08; Asst. 1, last vs. USC (3/8/08); Stl. 2, last vs. USC, 3/8/08; Blk. 2, last v. USC, 3/8/08.

#31 Moniquee Alexander -- Came off the bench to score 11 points against Love and Basketball ... Saw action in 30 games with 15 starts last season ... Had two double-digit scoring games, scoring a career-high 11 points against both Tennessee (5-5 fg) and UC Riverside ... Pulled down at least four rebounds in 12 contests ... Played at least 10 minutes in 21 games, with a high of 22 vs. CS Northridge ... Had five games with at least eight points scored.
Career Highs: Pts. 11, last at UC Riverside, 12/21/07; Reb. 10 vs. UCSB, 11/12/06; Asst. 2 at CS Northridge, 11/14/07; Stl. 2, last v. USC, 3/8/08; Blk. 2, last v. USC 3/8/08.

#35 Rebekah Gardner -- Scored nine off the bench against Love and Basketball ... Played last season at Ayala HS in Chino Hills, CA for coach Mel Sims ... Led her team to the CIF Division II-A title in 2007 and to the championship game in 2008 ... Named the CIF II-A Co-Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008 ... Averaged 19.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.1 assists as a senior ... EA Sports 2nd-Team All-American ... Averaged 22.9 points and 9.1 rebounds as a junior and 28.7 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a sophomore.