Nov. 5, 2013
SMU BEGINS SEASON AGAINST GRAMBLING STATE IN CURTIS CULWELL CENTER
Radio: KAAM 770 AM - Scott Garner (Play-by-Play)
Location: Garland, Texas (Curtis Culwell Center)
Live stats and video available at SMUMustangs.com
SMU begins the 2013-14 season on Sunday, Nov. 10 against Grambling State in the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, at 2 p.m. The Mustangs are 21-16 all-time in the first game of the season, and SMU has won 10 of its last 14 season openers. When starting the season at home, SMU is 14-8, and the Mustangs are 25-12 all-time in home openers.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
SMU went 12-4 in conference last season, winning its third regular-season conference championship, and advanced to the WNIT for the fifth time in program history, finishing with a 21-10 record overall, winning 20 games for the ninth time. SMU won 10 straight games from Dec. 30 through Feb. 10, the second-longest winning streak in school history. Three Mustangs earned all-conference recognition, with Keena Mays taking both Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors. Alisha Filmore and Akil Simpson were each named to the league's second team.
SMU received votes in the 2013-14 USA TODAY Sports Coaches' Preseason Poll after finishing the 2012-13 season with a 21-10 record. The Mustangs went 12-4 in Conference USA, winning the regular season in their final year in the league. SMU received votes in four straight polls last season.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
GRAMBLING STATE: The Lady Tigers finished the 2012-13 campaign 9-23 overall, with four returning letterwinners on the squad this season. Joanna Miller, who captured the 2013 SWAC Newcomer of the Year Award after leading the conference in scoring and three-point shooting, highlights the returners. Miller averaged over 17 points per game and ranked 40th nationally in three point field goal percentage a season ago. She was named SWAC Preseason Player of the Year and is a first team All-SWAC preseason selection.
Grambling State will also lean on seniors Victoya Ricks and Jessica Wakins. Ricks finished last season with 4.8 ppg., while grabbing 4.9 rebounds per game. She also led the team in blocks with 18. Watkins ranked fourth on the team in scoring a season ago with 4.6 ppg. She also finished third on the team in steals with 23. This is just the second meeting between SMU and Grambling State. The Mustangs won the first contest 93-69 in Dallas on Dec. 13, 1998.
UP NEXT - TCU
The Horned Frogs went 9-21 last season with a 2-16 record during their first season in the Big 12. Zahna Medley led the team last year with 12.9 points per game and had 130 assists, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention. Natalie Ventress also averaged double figures, scoring 11.3 per game. Kamy Cole was third on the team as a freshman with 9.8 points per game and second with 57 3-point field goals, but she is a member of the Mustangs this season after transferring to SMU. Of TCU's top six scorers from a season ago, Cole is the only one not on the roster this season. SMU is 41-16 all-time against the Horned Frogs, and has won two of the last three at home.
AGAINST THE SWAC
SMU is opening up against a Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent for the third straight season. The Mustangs beat Alcorn State in each of the last two season openers, downing the Lady Braves 76-54 on Nov. 12, 2011 and 76-46 on Nov. 10 to start the 2012-13 campaign. Destynee Hives-McCray posted the first double-double in last season's opener with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win. The Mustangs are 12-2 all-time against SWAC opponents with an 8-1 mark at home, including a 93-69 win against Grambling State on Dec. 13, 1998.
EXPERIENCE AT THE CORE
SMU returns four starters from last year's squad, who accounted for 63 percent of the team's offense in 2012-13. Keena Mays (18.5 ppg, 3.8 apg), Akil Simpson (10.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Destynee Hives-McCray (8.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Korina Baker (5.7 ppg, 3.6 apg) all return, along with three other contributors off the bench - Gabrielle Wilkins (6.2 ppg), Mallory Singleton (3.2 ppg, three starts) and Krystal Johnson (25 games played). Both Mays and Simpson earned all-conference honors last season, with Mays taking both Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards.
LEADING THE STAMPEDE
Keena Mays was named to the American Athletic Conference Preaseason All-Conference team on Oct. 14. The Arlington, Texas, native enjoyed a noteworthy 2012-13 season for SMU, earning Conference USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors while making the All-C-USA First Team. Mays was also a WBCA All-America finalist, playing in just 23 games after sitting out the first eight due to NCAA transfer rules. Mays averaged 18.4 points per contest, to go along with 3.8 assists and 5.7 rebounds. Mays scored a career-high 33 points against Stephen F. Austin in her second game as a Mustang on Dec. 19, and scored at least 20 points nine times.
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson was named second team All-Conference USA for the second consecutive year after averaging 10.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during the 2012-13 season. Simpson was SMU's leading rebounder and snagged at least 10 boards eight times. She saved one of her best performances for the most important game of the season, scoring 19 points and securing nine rebounds in SMU's win against UTEP on March 3 to give SMU the C-USA regular-season title.
PASSING THE ROCK
Korina Baker started all 31 games last season, her first campaign as a Mustang after transferring from North Idaho College. Baker finished seventh in Conference USA with 3.5 assists per game, and fifth in three-point shooting at 34.5 percent. Baker made five-of-seven 3-pointers against UCF on Jan. 13, tallying a career-high 17 points in an SMU victory.
PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
Destynee Hives-McCray appeared in all 31 games last season, making 24 starts. She finished the season second on the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game and had a team-high seven double-doubles. Hives-McCray put together a career-best scoring performance against Southern Miss on Jan. 17, scoring 22 points to go along with 10 boards.
A CLASS OF ONE
Kiara Perry is the lone freshman on the roster this season. She was named Most Valuable Player at the Texas state championship tournament after leading Duncanville to its second straight state title and a 70-game winning streak spanning two seasons. She averaged 11.1 points per game, including a 15-point performance in the state championship game. The guard also averaged 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.4 assists.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
SMU enters the new American Athletic Conference this season. Members of the conference, which consists of former BIG EAST and Conference USA members, includes Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Rutgers, Temple, UCF and USF. Connecticut beat Louisville to win the 2013 NCAA championship, and the Bulls advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The 2014 American Women's Basketball Championship will be hosted at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., March 7-10.
2013-14 PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
1. Connecticut (9) 81
2. Louisville (1) 73
3. USF 59
4. Rutgers 57
5. SMU 50
6. Memphis 32
7. Cincinnati 30
8. UCF 28
9. Temple 25
10. Houston 15
MOODY GETS A FACELIFT
The $47 million renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum, which opened in December 1956, will be completed in December, and the Mustangs will host all conference games on campus. The renovated Moody Coliseum will provide many new and improved features, including a renovated main entry lobby, expanded concourses with raised ceilings, club seats, loge boxes, private suites, group suites, new event space, offices, team locker rooms and meeting space. SMU will play its first basketball games with a men's and women's doubleheader on Jan. 4. The women will play USF at 3:30 in ESPN3.
NEW HEIGHTS IN BROADCAST COVERAGE
For the first time in program history, SMU women's basketball fans will have the opportunity to watch all 29 regular-season games live this season. The Mustangs will have two games on ESPNU this season, Dec. 29 at Louisville, and again when SMU hosts the Cardinals on Jan. 19 in the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum. ESPN will broadcast two games live on its digital channel, ESPN3, including the first game of the season in Moody Coliseum, a Jan. 4 matchup against USF. The Memphis game on Feb. 22 in the FedEx Forum will also be on ESPN3. SportsNet New York will carry both games against Connecticut. SMU will also play seven games on the American Digital Network, and the other eight home games will air on PonyUp TV.
Head coach Rhonda Rompola and associate head coach Lisa Dark have been together on the sidelines since Rompola took over the reins of the program 23 seasons ago. Assistant coach Deneen Parker is in her 19th season with the Mustangs. The SMU staff has the second longest active tenure of any staff at one school. Danny Hughes is in his fifth year with the program.
Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament seven times and the WNIT five times in 22 seasons. The Mustangs have captured two conference tournament championships, winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament in 1999 and the C-USA tournament in 2008, and three regular season titles under her leadership. She has coached three All-Americans, three Conference Players of the Year, two Conference Defensive Players of the Year and 34 All-Conference selections. Rompola has also earned six Coach of the Year honors during her career.