Defending MWC Regular Season Champions BYU is planning to add another successful campaign into the program's record books. For the 2007-08 season, the Cougar team returns two starters and a total of six letterwinners from last year's team that compiled an impressive 23-10 record and a ninth NCAA appearance. In addition, eight very talented newcomers will be part of the program.
"I'm very excited for the upcoming season and I expect a lot from our returning players with their experience and leadership," said head coach Jeff Judkins.
The team will be highlighted by the return of MWC Second Team honoree and senior guard Mallary Gillespie-Carling along with MWC Honorable Mention Lauren Riley Varley. The two starters are back for their final season with high expectations and a commitment to have the best season ever. Both were also named to the 2007 MWC All-Tournament Team.
"We'll be looking to them to be consistent at every game and for them to lead both on and off the court," he added. "They will set the tone for the team. Both are more mature and I anticipate they will finish the year with conference honors."
Eight letterwinners with plenty of playing experience, talent, and dedication will step up and provide a solid nucleus of players. Among the returning players are junior forward/guard combo Shawnee Slade, senior forward Ashley Cheesman and junior center Cassie King. The trio returns with the most playing experience and a thorough understanding of coach Judkins' game plan.
"Cassie is in the best shape she's ever been and she will bring a solid inside presence. She has really worked hard on her game over the summer," commented Judkins. "We'll look to Shawnee to score more and be a leader and she'll get to play her true small forward position. Senior Ashley Cheesman will also come in and provide solid minutes for the team.
At the guard position, Jamie Judkins will come in with a very good understanding of the Cougar game plan and provide solid bench minutes in every game. The team will be without point guard Haley Hall who reinjured her knee prior to the beginning of the season.
"With Jamie's experience from last season, she will also be a big part at the point guard spot since losing Haley."
Fans will get to see seven new freshmen on the court this season including redshirt freshman Lauren Nichols. Nichols has been with the team for a year and she understands her role on the team. "She's playing great basketball right now," Judkins said.
Another redshirt transfer on the team is Sarah Red, who sat out last year after transferring from the University of Utah.
The six new signees for the 2007-08 season include Utahn Megan Marks, a 6-2 forward from South Jordan, Utah and Bingham High School, three standouts from the Northwest and one each from Wheaton, Illinois and
Centennial, Colorado. In terms of positions, the class brings in two guards and four forwards.
"We feel this is one of the best classes we've signed since taking over the program. These are players that will fill major roles void by last year's senior class," added Judkins.
Marks along with Keilani Moeaki, a 6-2 forward from Warrenville, Ill. (Wheaton Warrenville South High School), Coriann Wood who is 6-1 from Othello, Wash. (Connell High School), and Stephanie Buhler, a 6-0 player from Oregon City and Oregon City High School round out the four forwards.
At the guard position will be Jazmine Foreman, a 5-5 guard from Vancouver, Wash., and Hudson's Bay High School and Mindy Nielson, a 5-10 guard form Centennial. Colo., and Regis Jesuit High School.
"These players come from different parts of the country and we feel that with them we can reach the goals that we have set for this basketball program, Judkins added."
Eight teams that participated in postseason tournaments along with home games against UCLA highlight the 2007-08 nonconference schedule for the BYU team.
The schedule is slated with a total of 14 games that includes matchups against a pair of teams from the Big East, two WAC foes, and single games against squads from the Pac-10, and America East conferences. Of those contests, three will be first time opponents Connecticut, Sacred Heart and Arkansas State.
"I think this is one of our best preseason schedules we've ever hard," said coach Judkins.
"We're excited about our schedule because we're playing a lot of different teams that compete in very strong conferences."
After two exhibition games against Westminster on Oct. 30 and Eastern Oregon on Nov. 3, the Cougar team opens the nonconference season on the road, at UCSB and at Arkansas State on Nov. 9 and 13 respectively.
The season opener for the team is slated for Nov. 17 when BYU hosts WAC foe Fresno State, followed by first time visits from Hartford on Nov. 20 and Seton Hall on Nov. 23.
A pair of road games follows with first time opponents from the Big East conference follow after Thanksgiving. Perennial Connecticut, who went to the Elite Eight in last year's NCAA tournament and won its league race will host the Cougars on Nov. 29 followed by a game at Sacred Heart on Dec. 1.
"Connecticut is a premiere women's basketball program, and they along with UCLA, Hartford and UCSB are always at the top of the standings in their conferences," added Judkins.
A team that hasn't played in the Marriott Center since 1990 comes to Provo on Dec. 5. New Mexico State is the second WAC team on the schedule. Three days later the Cougars host nearby instate rival Utah Valley University on Dec. 8. Then it's off to Big Sky country in Ogden for another instate rival, Weber State, on Dec. 13 at the Dee Events Center.
Cougar fans will enjoy the next home game for the team. UCLA comes to Provo for a matchup on Dec. 15. The Bruins haven't visited the Marriott Center since 2000.
The non-conference schedule concludes on Dec. 29 with a road trip to Logan where the Cougars will renew their rivalry against the Aggies. The two instate teams have not played each other since 1987.
"With our young team this year, the schedule will be a pretty big challenge for us, but I know it will prepare us for another very competitive and tough conference season," Judkins said.
Defending MWC Regular Season Champions BYU is planning to once again be at the top of the 2008 league race.
"We're very excited about our schedule this year," said head coach Jeff Judkins. "For the first time in seven years we get to end the season at home," added Judkins.
The Cougars open up MWC play at Colorado State on Jan. 12, followed by the home opener against UNLV on Jan. 16. Three days later the team hosts instate rival Utah on Jan. 19.
The following week it's back to the road with a game at San Diego State on Jan. 23 and at New Mexico on Jan. 26. Last season, BYU defeated the Lobos at the Pit.
"It's going to be a good race for the regular season champions this year and we feel good about how the pairings were set up this year," commented Judkins
The Cougars will have a tough battle at the end of league play hosting New Mexico on Feb. 26, then on the road at Air Force on Mar. 1, at Wyoming on Mar. 5 and finish at home hosting TCU on Mar. 8.
This year's MWC Championships will be held Mar. 12-15 in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV campus. The winner gets an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament that begins the next week.