What headlines you may have missed this summer…
Looking to build off their second round NCAA tournament appearance from a year ago, the Golden Eagles have had a busy offseason in hopes of repeating that same success driven by belief, commitment, maturity, respect, and thankfulness. Head coach Terri Mitchell returns to Marquette for her 16th season as head coach of the program and these five principles serve as the foundation of her team. One of the team’s favorite Mitchell sayings is, “we didn’t come to just compete in the BIG EAST, we came to win it.” The Golden Eagles will refuse to think of this upcoming season as a rebuilding year and hope that their youth, lack of film their opponents’ have to study from, and development throughout the journey, will help mold together a successful team striving to make it back to the NCAA tournament come March for a second straight year. Marquette finished their 2010-11 campaign ranked 24th nationally in the final AP poll.
The Marquette women have an exciting schedule for the 2011-12 season and hope to see many Fanatics come out to The Al McGuire Center and support the Golden Eagles. With the NBA lockout currently in place, a Marquette basketball game could be the hottest ticket in Milwaukee this winter. The two big non-conference games for Marquette will be a Tuesday November 15th matchup vs. rival Wisconsin at The Al McGuire Center and a Saturday November 19th afternoon affair against Georgia Tech at The Bradley Center. To date, the largest crowd for a Marquette women’s basketball home game was 4,327 fans back on November 14, 2007, when the Golden Eagles defeated the Wisconsin Badgers at The Bradley Center by a score of 67-53. Marquette and The Al McGuire Center are the host of the Big East Volleyball Championship during this weekend so thus the venue change to The Bradley Center this year and back in 2007. Hopefully the Fanatics can garnish that fan support and Marquette can repeat the same end result too again this season. The Golden Eagles will travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament where they will face Washington State, Prairie View A&M, and Michigan on three consecutive days from November 24-26. The tournament is held annually at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, USVI. The Golden Eagles return to the islands after a three year absence, winning the 2006 St. John Division championship and will look to be crowned Reef Division champions this time around. Marquette also travels to UW-Green Bay on December 2nd for a big game against the Phoenix. UWGB was ranked 13th in the national polls last year before Marquette upset them at The Al McGuire Center. That pivotal game proved to be UWGB’s only regular season loss before third ranked Baylor and center Brittany Griner scored a career-high 40 points on the Phoenix in a third-round NCAA tournament game defeat. In conference play this season, Marquette will host Big East foes Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, USF, and Connecticut. The February 25th showdown versus UConn will not only be the last home game of the season and a likely sellout, but it will also be against one of the most difficult teams in women’s basketball in recent years. Head coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies have never lost at The Al McGuire Center as they will look to continue their recent domination and win their sixth consecutive Big East conference title. Marquette’s sole nationally televised game will be on February 12th at DePaul on ESPN2. The site of the BIG EAST Championship is set for March 2-6 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Out goes six seniors, in comes six freshmen, and Sarina Simmons is left all by herself heading into the season as the leader of the Golden Eagles. Simmons will be the oldest on the team as a junior who averaged 7.5 points-per-game and 5.7 rebounds-per-game last year. Marquette’s roster currently stands at six freshmen, four sophomores, one junior, and no seniors. Due to graduation, Marquette has lost 74.8% of its scoring, but Coach Mitchell has done an outstanding job recruiting and has a talented group of freshmen whom she will be excited to see progress over the next four years as their team chemistry gels too.
According to ESPNU, Marquette’s 2011 recruiting class ranks as the 43rd best in the nation. Post players Apiew Ojulu (6’3”), Chelsie Butler (6’5”), and Lauren Tibbs (6’4”) should all be in the mix early for playing time and be given opportunities to see the floor as freshmen. Ojulu is the 86th best overall player in the Class of 2011 and the 8th ranked post. Ojulu is from Lakeville, Minnesota, and first got her start playing basketball in third grade when she made a shot in gym class. Butler comes to Marquette as the 22nd best post player in the nation and was the Division II All-Ohio Co-Player of the Year. She is from Minerva, Ohio, and initially set a four-hour limit away from home when being recruited, but upon visiting campus and meeting the players and coaches, she decided that Marquette was the right fit for her even though it is nine hours away. Tibbs is from Scott High School in Taylor Mill, Kentucky, and is ranked as the 38th best post player in the nation. Tibbs was a multi-sport athlete and twice won the Northern Kentucky Coaches Association Player of the Year honors in both basketball and volleyball.
Coach Mitchell balanced out her recruiting nicely by also adding three guards to her 2011 class in Margeaux Dupuy, Arlesia Morse, and Cristina Bigica. Dupuy is from Grapevine High School in Texas and has strong ties to the state of Wisconsin. Her mother graduated from Marquette’s College of Speech in 1981 and Margeaux has an older brother named Victor who graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2010 and was a four-year letter-winner on the track and field team for the Wisconsin Badgers. Arlesia Morse hails from Flint, Michigan, where she helped guide Hamady High School to back-to-back Class C state titles in 2009 and 2010. Morse is a smart floor general on the basketball court and once nearly missed the team bus for a game because she and her teammates were instead in the library writing papers. Last but not least, Cristina Bigica brings some international flavor to this year’s Marquette squad and is from Bucuresti, Romania. Bigica was named the most valuable player at the 2010 FIBA U-18 Division B Championships and this past summer was a member of the Romanian National Team at the 2011 U20 European Championship averaging 11 points per game over the nine-game tournament held in Serbia.
Angel Robinson drafted to WNBA:
Former point guard Angel Robinson was selected by the New York Liberty with the 22nd pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Robinson’s rights were then traded to the Minnesota Lynx who later released her a week before the start of the WNBA regular season. Robinson is just the second Golden Eagle to be drafted to the WNBA joining Abbie Willenborg who was drafted by the Houston Comets with the 64th pick in 2000 draft and had her #34 jersey retired at a Marquette women’s home game last year at The Al McGuire Center. Robinson set a new Marquette record playing in 134 games and is the only player in program history to achieve over 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 steals in her illustrious career from 2007-2010. In Robinson’s only game with the Lynx in mid-May, she logged 13 minutes and tallied four points, two rebounds, two assists, and a steal in a preseason victory over the Indiana Fever at Concordia University in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Currently the Lynx are in the Western Conference Semifinals trying to complete a miracle season going from the worst team in the WNBA a year ago to first. Lindsay Whalen leads the Lynx at point guard and recently finished 5th in the 2011 WNBA MVP voting. The Lynx have strong depth at the guard position, but it will be interesting to see if Robinson can latch on with another team next year because she definitely seemed talented enough to play at the WNBA level.
Barnes and Quaye named assistant coaches, Consuegra leaves:
Cara Consuegra was named the head women’s basketball coach at UNC Charlotte after serving as Marquette’s assistant coach for seven seasons under Terri Mitchell. Consuegra worked closely with the backcourt in her time here, but will now be replaced by John Barnes. Barnes served as the head coach at Michigan Tech posting a winning record in all seven seasons (2003-2010) including a short stint with Wisconsin last year before coming to Marquette. Barnes played basketball for Michigan Tech and initially had a coaching job as an assistant with the men’s team for six seasons before taking over the women’s program and bringing both to national prominence. Former Marquette standout Christina Quaye will round out the Golden Eagles’ coaching staff as she will be serving as the graduate assistant this season. Quaye will assist with video coordination, student-athlete development and community service initiatives. Mitchell coached Quaye from 2003-2007 earning First Team All-Big East honors as a senior and ranks fourth and seventh on Marquette’s all-time scoring and rebounding lists.
Plouffe and Team Canada finished 5th at FIBA U19 World Championship:
Marquette sophomore Katherine Plouffe from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was selected to play on the U19 Canadian team this summer at the FIBA U19 World Championship where she helped lead Team Canada to a fifth place finish. Plouffe averaged 8.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game helping her team to an 8-1 record for the tournament. Plouffe was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team last season and started 30 of Marquette’s 33 games averaging 6.5 points-per-game and 5.1 rebounds-per-game.
New women’s basketball/Big East rule changes:
A number of changes in collegiate women’s basketball and the Big East will go into effect this upcoming season. The women’s 3-point line will be moved back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches, the same distance the men have used since 2008-09. In both the men’s and women’s games, the terminology for fouls will be changed to match the NBA. Intentional fouls will now be called Flagrant 1 and flagrant fouls will be called Flagrant 2. Women’s teams will also test a 10-second half-court rule in exhibition games this season, which for Marquette’s sake, should occur for one game only vs. Carthage College on November 5th at The Al McGuire Center.
The Big East Conference announced this summer that the women’s basketball conference schedule format will change from 16 games to 18 games, beginning in the 2012-13 season. TCU’s arrival will put the Big East at 17 teams and each team will play 14 opponents once and two opponents twice. The process to determine repeat opponents will remain the same and chosen based on a list of criteria by the conference committee.
Marquette recruiting updates:
Ashley Santos, a senior point guard from Geneva High School in Illinois, has verbally committed to attend Marquette. According to ESPNU, she is ranked as the 86th ranked player in the class of 2012 and the 35th best guard. Ashley’s sister Sidney, who is two years younger than her, both play together on the Puerto Rican U18 national team. Basketball runs in the Santos family. Their father, Jose Santos, played for the Puerto Rican national team and in Puerto Rico’s professional leagues and their mother Lori, played basketball at Wichita State. Ashley’s dad believes that she has one of the best shooting and three-point touches around. Ashley may go to school in Illinois and will be here at Marquette in another year, but the Santos family still strongly embraces their Puerto Rican heritage.
Another verbal committee for the class of 2012 is Brooklyn Pumroy of Fairborn High School in Ohio. Pumroy is the 65th top ranked point guard in her class, but tore her ACL in June and had surgery. Her status for the beginning of her high school basketball senior year in uncertain although she is expected to be back in action some point starting in the winter granted her recovery goes smoothly. She has all the abilities to dominate at the college level and should do well in Terri Mitchell’s system of up-tempo and defensive-minded style basketball.
Possibly one of Marquette’s most unexpected and crucial recruits in the class of 2012 is centered on Heather Bowe from Regis High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The 1st team all-state forward led Regis to the WIAA Division 4 state championship last season. What makes Bowe’s story unique though is she actually committed to play at Wisconsin her sophomore year of high school until the Badgers fired head coach Lisa Stone and new Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey withdrew Bowe’s scholarship offer. As a result, Bowe reopened the recruiting process and has chosen Marquette and Vanderbilt as her two remaining schools she is interested in. Bowe expects to make a decision in the near future as she has already visited Marquette and has a visit scheduled to Vanderbilt this week. To make matters even worse for Bowe, she is also dealing with another coaching change at Regis High School this upcoming season with Cody Rumpel as the new girl’s basketball coach replacing Brady Hoolihan who resigned because his contract as a middle school teacher was not renewed. Nevertheless, I’m sure Terri Mitchell is hoping Bowe decides to choose Marquette because she is self-motivated and possesses tremendous ability to play both inside and outside.
Follow @MUWarriorBBall and @RyanEllerbusch5 on Twitter all season long for the latest updates on the Marquette men’s and women’s basketball teams.
by Ryan Ellerbusch