Jazmine Foreman is one of three returning starters on the 2009-10 squad (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Coming off an 18-11 and 8-8 season in 2008-09, the Cougar women’s basketball team is looking to expand on its success in 2009-10 with a strong showing in its preseason and league schedule, and on the national scene in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2009-10 squad returns 12 letterwinners and three starters. Junior guard Mindy Nielson, one of the starters back, was the team’s leading scorer averaging 10.4 points per game. Nielson was named to the MWC All-Conference Third Team and to the All-Defensive Team. Junior point guard Jazmine Foreman led the team in assists, dishing out a total of 113 for a 3.9 average. The third starter back is forward Keilani Moeaki who started in 25 of the 29 games and averaged 5.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game
“ We’re excited for this season and are happy with our team’s preparation,” said head coach Jeff Judkins. “We have three starters back this year and a good group of girls with a lot of experience, and that’s a big positive for us.”
Also on the junior class are 6-1 forward Coriann Wood and point guard Haley Hall. Wood finished the 2008-09 campaign as the second leading rebounder grabbing 4.8 boards a game after playing in all contests.
Guard Haley Hall, who started in the game at Portland State on Nov. 14, 2008 before suffering her third season-ending ACL injury, is expected to return to action after surgery and rehabilitation.
This season’s roster lists just one lone senior in Jaime Judkins who played in a total of 19 games including nine in league action. She along with Wood, junior Megan Marks Leach, sophomores Kristen Riley, Dani Peterson, Stephanie Buhler Bates and Jenteal Jackson were the core and strength of the Cougar bench last season. That experience will provide a vital role in the success of the BYU team this year. During last year’s campaign, bench players outscored the opponent bench in a total of 17 games, winning 11 of those contests.
“We will have a lot of depth on our team this year that will give us a good advantage and will allow us to play up tempo,” added Judkins. “They have worked hard to get ready for this season. We’re looking forward to having Haley back because she brings a lot of leadership and athletic ability to our team.”
On the 2009-10 newcomer list are two freshmen in local star Kim Parker, a 5-11 guard from Heber and Wasatch High School and standout Canadian Stephanie Vermunt. The 6-0 guard/forward combo hails from Airdrie, Alberta Canada and Bert Church High School. Joining the two will be redshirt freshmen and Timpview High School standout Alexis Kaufusi from Provo, Utah.
“Our two incoming freshman are fitting in well and are making great progress to understanding their roles. They both played on good teams with great coaches,” Judkins said.” “Alexis is coming off her redshirt year and she’ll be a big inside presence for us and has had a year to get to know our system.”
A total of 12 home games highlighted by four NCAA Tournament participants, three teams from the WAC, and one each from the Pac-10 and the Big 12 are included in the 2009-10 women’s basketball schedule.
Also on the slate are two opponents from the Big Sky and the West Coast Conferences, and one from the Big West.
“We are very excited about our schedule for this upcoming season, one that will challenge us in every contest,” said coach Judkins. “For the first time in recent years we will play every instate school either at home or on the road for some great matchups.”
Kansas State, one of four opponents that competed in last year’s NCAA Championships will be making an appearance at the Marriott Center on Fri., Nov. 27. The Bobcats and Cougars have not played in over 30 years, the last time in 1978.
“We will have a great home game with Kansas State, a traditional top-30 program and will be a great contest for our fans,” Judkins added.
“This year’s schedule will allow us to play schools from various conferences throughout the country including another Pac-10 challenge from our game at Washington. We’ve had a lot of success with the teams from that conference over the years so it will serve as a huge motivator for us.”
After hosting Utah Valley University for its first home game of the year on Nov. 13, BYU spends the next six days playing three contests on the road. They battle Pac-10 powerhouse Washington on Wed., Nov. 18 and remain in the northwest playing at Montana State on Nov. 20. From there its back to Utah to meet instate foe Southern Utah on Tues., Nov. 24.
For the second year in a row, the month of December finds the Cougars in Hawaii at the Hukilau Tournament battling the University of San Francisco on Dec. 4 and the University of Hawaii on Dec. 5. BYU and BYU-Hawaii host the tournament.
Another three-game road swing follows the team with a Dec. 9 matchup at Weber State and a Sat., Dec. 12 contest at Cal State Fullerton. The final road contest of the nonconference schedule finds the Cougars facing instate rival Utah State on Dec. 19.
Two home contests round out the preseason campaign with the University of Portland, a 2009 WNIT participant, playing on Dec. 31 and Nevada making a visit to the Marriott Center on Sat., Jan. 2.
The 2010 Mountain West Conference race will be another tough and challenging season with four schools coming off impressive performances in the 2009 NCAA and WNIT postseason tournaments.
“Our conference is going to be very balanced once again so it’s going to be a tough season,” commented coach Judkins. “It looks like the last portion of the schedule we will have to play probably the top three or four teams which means we’ll have to be prepared to play our best ball.”
UNLV is up first for the Cougars in a Wed., Jan. 6 matchup in Las Vegas. The Air Force Academy, a team BYU swept last year, will open league play at home on Wed., Jan. 13 followed by two road games to Colorado State and Wyoming on Jan. 16 and 19. The games against the Cowgirls will air live on the Mtn. at 6 p.m.
Two MWC foes come to Provo next with San Diego State on Sat. Jan. 23 and New Mexico on Wed. Jan. 27. Both teams represented the league in postseason tournaments in 2009 with the Aztecs going to the NCAA championships and the Lobos competing in the WNIT.
On Sat., Jan. 30 the Cougars head to Salt Lake City to battle instate rival Utah. The Cougars round out the first half of league play in Ft. Worth where they play TCU on Wed., Feb. 3.
The second half of the MWC race brings the Rebels of UNLV to the Marriott Center on Sat., Feb. 6 with CSU and Wyoming scheduled on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 respectively.
BYU plays at the Air Force Academy on Feb. 13 and has additional road games at SDSU on Feb. 24 and at New Mexico on Feb. 27. The game against the Lobos is scheduled to air live on CBS College Sports.
This year the Cougars end the MWC race at home hosting Utah on Mar. 3 and TCU on Mar. 6.
The following week BYU will make a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the 2010 MWC Championships from Mar. 10-13 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The league’s tournament champion gets an automatic bid in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.