Friday, November 4, 2011

Women’s Basketball: Know Your Foe - Part I

The season is just a week away for the Titans’ women’s basketball team. Detroit will open the season at Indiana State in the Preseason WNIT, with the outcome of that game deciding its next few opponents.

The Preseason WNIT is a 3-4 game format depending on how far a team advances and will feature the likes of Baylor, Notre Dame and UCLA. Overall, 12 teams in the 16-team field made a NCAA postseason tournament last year.

All told, the known non-conference opponents on the schedule combined for a 184-138 (57%) record a year ago with six teams earning postseason bids, including three to the NCAA tournament.

Here are some tidbits on the Titans’ non-conference opponents:

Indiana State (Nov. 11 in Terre Haute, IN): ISU was 16-16 a year ago, but 11-4 at home. The Sycamores return eight letterwinners and four starters to a team that reached the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Indiana State was picked to finish fifth in the MVC preseason poll and has six of its top seven scorers from last season back. That group is led by senior Shannon Thomas, who was a preseason MVC selection after averaging 13.1 points and a conference-best 8.6 rebounds per game last year. Detroit is 3-2 all-time against Indiana State.

Bowling Green (Nov. 22 in Detroit): The Falcons have been the class of the MAC and are coming off a 28-5 campaign, winning the Mid-American Conference championship and reaching the NCAA tournament. BGSU lost four starters from last season, but return nine letterwinners and was the preseason pick to win the MAC East Division. Bowling Green is led by junior preseason All-MAC pick Chrissy Steffen, who tallied 10.4 ppg., and 4.1 rpg., last season. Detroit trails the all-time series, 12-10, and has lost six in a row to the school from Ohio

Utah (Nov. 25 in San Antonio, TX): The Utes have a lot of experience coming back in 11 letterwinners, including four starters. Utah was 18-17 last season, but won the Mountain West Conference tournament to advance to the NCAA’s big dance. Utah was picked to finish sixth in its first season in the Pac-12 and will have its leading scorer and one of the top shooters in the nation back in junior Iwalani Rodrigues. The sharpshooter posted 14.9 points and ranked fifth in the nation in three-point field goals per game (3.1) and eighth in three-point field goal percentage (44.9). This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

University of Texas at San Antonio (Nov. 26 in San Antonio, TX): The host of the Thanksgiving Classic that the Titans will participate in, UTSA was picked to win the Southland Conference’s West Division in the league’s preseason poll. The Roadrunners have two starters and eight letterwinners back from a squad that went 16-15 last year. UTSA lost its two leading scorers from last season, but will bring back Ashley Gardner who averaged 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. It will be the first meeting between the two schools that have each hosted a men’s Final Four in recent years with UTSA in 2008 and UDM in 2009.

Ball State (Dec. 1 in Muncie, IN): The Cardinals have nine letterwinners and three starters returning to a team that was 9-21 a year ago. BSU lost its top two scorers from last season leaving sophomore Brandy Woody as the highest returning scorer at 5.5 ppg. Ball State was tabbed to finish fifth in the MAC West Division and enters the year looking to end a 10-game losing streak. Detroit is 2-1 all-time against the Cardinals after the programs met for the first time since 1987 last year.

Michigan State (Dec. 6 in East Lansing): The Spartans lost three seniors to graduation, but still return a lot of firepower as they enter the year ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, while receiving votes in the Associated Press poll. The team was also tabbed to finish third in the Big Ten by the media in the league’s preseason poll. Senior Lykendra Johnson – a preseason All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media as well as the conference’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year – is MSU’s top returner after averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds. Michigan State leads the all-time series, 17-7, and has won 12 in a row over the Titans.

Michigan (Dec. 8 in Detroit): What many will call the “revenge game”, Michigan returns to Calihan Hall after the Titans went into Crisler Arena last season and defeated the Wolverines, 67-48. Michigan returns nine letterwinners and four starters from a group that went 17-13, earning a trip to the postseason WNIT. Michigan lost its top point-producer from last season, but do have two players who averaged double figures in scoring back in Rachel Sheffer (11.0) and Carmen Reynolds (10.0). UDM leads the all-time series 12-9 following last year’s victory on the road.

IPFW (Dec. 18 in Detroit): The Mastodons are coming off a 20-win season and an appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. IPFW lost six letterwinners and three starters from that squad and enters the year with just five returning letterwinners. The Mastodons were picked to finish fourth in the Summit League’s preseason poll, while senior Stephanie Rosado was selected to the preseason All-League first team after topping the squad in both scoring (16.5) and rebounding (7.4) last year. Detroit is 5-1 all-time against IPFW, although the one loss came on the road last year.

Eastern Michigan (Dec. 20 in Detroit): The Eagles posted a 24-13 record last season, advancing to the third round of the postseason WNIT. EMU lost six letterwinners and three starters, but eight players return from that squad, including its leading scorer in Tavelyn James (17.4 ppg.). Eastern Michigan was picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference West Division, while James garnered preseason All-MAC accolades. Detroit is 12-8 all-time against EMU after downing the Eagles, 62-60, last year on the road thanks to a 17-3 run to end the game.

Western Michigan (Dec. 22 in Kalamazoo): The Broncos have seven newcomers to go with seven returning letterwinners and two starters from last year’s 9-21 squad. WMU lost its top two scorers from last year, but brings back preseason All-MAC selection senior Miame Giden, who tallied 11.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a junior. UDM ended a four-game losing streak to the Broncos last season with a 66-53 victory and will look to even the all-time series at 13-apiece this year.

For the team's full schedule, click here

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