Thursday, November 23, 2017
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20171019 UTRGV WOMENS BASKETBALLIn the past three seasons, the UTRGV Women’s Basketball Team has put together some impressive accolades.

During that time frame, the Lady Vaqueros have won 57 games, earning a berth to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament and a pair of invitations and appearances in the Women’s Basketball Invitational quarterfinals. But that past has little to no bearing on this year’s squad.

“We’re 0-0,” said Larry Tidwell, head coach for the Lady Vaqueros. “What we did last year and the years before was really nice and makes our program better, but right now we’re at ground zero. We’ve got to build ourselves up, we’ve got to have confidence, and we’ve got to work extremely hard.”

Winter Texans who have seen the program recently have seen a team that has grown and gotten better each year. Tidwell was quick to state that the support from the community – especially those who come from all over the Midwest, where basketball is king, is appreciated. He said that Winter Texans know basketball and to have that type of a crowd follow his team is especially special.

“Our Winter Texan fans are some of the most first-class individuals that we have come across,” Tidwell said. “They’re into every game and we’re glad that we can provide them with some fun entertainment a few times a week. We hope to continue to see our Winter Texan section filled up at every home game.”

The Lady Vaqueros finished the 2016-17 season with a 19-14 overall record and 8-6 in the conference. To the joy of the home fans they were 12-4 at home. After beating Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational, UTRGV fell 73-63 to eventual WBI tournament champs Rice University.

This year, UTRGV opens its season at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 against Concordia University and at 5 p.m. Nov. 11 against Trinity University in the Islanders Tournament in Corpus Christi. Their first home game is at 7 p.m., Nov. 14 against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at the Edinburg Fieldhouse.

Tidwell is excited about the coming year, saying that depth will be a strong point for the team.

"Our depth is really going to be good," Tidwell said. "I think we'll be able to play 11 or 12 this year, which is important because we've got to go hard. We've got to be relentless on defense. We're already trapping, trying to get into the passing lanes and go for steals."

UTRGV immediately showed that athleticism is a strength, as the student-athletes brought a lot of energy and the ability to run up and down the floor.

One of the positions up for grabs during the preseason is point guard, a spot at which UTRGV has a plethora of options.

"Amara Graham looked good," Tidwell said. "Shaian Tramble is a natural point guard who really knows how to run the point. Nichele Hyman really got up and down the floor today. Nichele's going to be a big part of the process whether she's at the one, two or three."

Hyman has primarily been a shooting guard during her time at UTRGV, but entered the preseason prepared to run the point. At one point during practice she was asked to slide over to small forward, a position that Hyman hasn't played before. Still, Hyman handled the challenge well, furthering UTRGV's all-around depth.

UTRGV is also working on determining its forward rotation, with a number of newcomers already stepping up to assist returners such as Megan Johnson, UTRGV's top returning rebounder at 4.1 per game last season.

"I thought Krissy Sampson did a great job of rebounding," Tidwell said. "Marie-Fatou Gueye will rebound and get back up with the ball real quick. Alicia McCray did some good things. Those three, along with Quynne Huggins, are going to be counted on heavily to go get rebounds because we're not very big other than Laura Van Tilburg."

General Admission tickets are $7 per home game, $6 for those 65 and older. To purchase tickets call Johnny Zapata at (956) 665-3747 or email him at johnny.zapata@utrgv.edu. To view a schedule, click here.

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