The 2002-03 women's basketball season opens this week, but the Cougar women have one more exhibition game on tap before the official season begins. This Tuesday night, Nov. 19 the Cougars play hosts to nearby Westminster College at 7 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the two instate schools.
The Cougars already played one exhibition game defeating Team Concepts 77-58 almost two weeks ago. Tuesday's game will be the final preparation game before hosting the University of Texas Friday night.
BYU returns three starters from last season's 24-9, 10-4 team who made history by winning their first-ever NCAA Tournament game, going on to the "Sweet Sixteen" in the Midwest Regional.
All-American and MWC MVP Erin Thorn leads the Cougar offense with an average of 17.3 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. Senior teammate Jennifer Leitner is the second leading scorer on the team as well as the leading rebounder. Leitner averaged 11.9 points and 8.7 boards a game. Sophomore forward Danielle Cheesman who got a starting position midway through last season also returns to the team. She averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Coach Judkins will be looking to these top returning players to provide strong play and leadership as he begins his second season with the women's team. "I am very excited to have Erin, Jennifer and Danielle all returning to our starting lineup this year. They really came on last year. Each of them improved a lot of things in their game to make our team better."
This season's roster will see the return of MWC's 1999-2000 Newcomer of the Year Julie Whetten Sullivan who redshirted last year. Joining her at the guard position will be Maria Chiara from Hamilton, New Zealand who played two season at Casper Junior College before serving an 18-month LDS mission to Florida.
Senior guard Amy Lewis will finish her college career joined by her twin sister Angie Gatten who redshirted last year. The sister duo walked on the Cougar roster last year. Lewis, who played in 18 games, gained valuable experience and is very familiar with the Cougar offense.
Senior transfer Lisa Hansen who came off the bench in every game is also back for one more season with the Cougars. Her averages included 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds.
On this season's roster there's three more letterwinners that return with a lot of playing experience. Hansen, and senior Brittany Larson along with Kali Taylor a sophomore guard from Lyman, Utah who averaged over five minutes of playing time in 28 games her freshman season will be critical to the success of the Cougar team.
Utah high school standouts Jen Overdiek, Nancy Seljaas and Ambrosia Anderson will also be part of the roster this year. The two high school graduates will be joined by Kanab, Utah native Ashleigh Chamberlain who joins the team after two seasons at Utah Valley State College. Also from UVSC is junior guard Kestlee Nelson. Kristen Crockett Kozlowsky joins the Cougar program via Boise State where she played for one year.
The Women's Basketball News Service announced its pre-season college Top 25 poll and the Cougars were ranked 23rd.
Media Picks Cougars MWC Champs
During this year's MWC Basketball Media Day, the media picked BYU to win this year's regular season title capturing eight of the 15 first-place votes.
Senior guard and All-American Erin Thorn earned Top Returning Player honors. She was joined on the squad by five additional seniors, including teammate Jennifer Leitner. Colorado State's Ashley Augspurger, New Mexico's Jordan Adams, UNLV's Constance Jinks and Wyoming's Carrie Bacon.
2002-03 Mountain West Conference Preseason Media Poll
Rk. Team (1st-place votes) Pts
1. BYU (8) 110
2. Colorado State (7) 103
3. New Mexico (1) 91
4. Utah 70
5. UNLV 69
6. Wyoming 49
7. San Diego State 31
8. Air Force 17
2002-03 MWC Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Jennifer Leitner, Sr., F BYU
Erin Thorn, Sr., G BYU
Ashley Augspurger, Sr., F Colorado State
Jordan Adams, Sr., C New Mexico
Constance Jinks, Sr., G UNLV
Carrie Bacon, Sr., F Wyoming
Final 2001-02 Cougar Stats
u Shooting from the field: (.448, 855-1910)
u Shooting from the free-throw line: (.752, 425-565)
u Shooting from three-point line: (.401, 264-658)
u Average points per game: 72.7