For All-Big 12 senior standouts Heather Schreiber and Jamie Carey, the last chapter of playing basketball as a Texas Longhorn will take place on Saturday, April 2 in Indianapolis.
They won't be in Indy pursuing their season-long goal - in the NCAA Women's Final Four with their Longhorn teammates - but will be there, representing the Texas program as participants in the prestigious Women's Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) Senior All-Star Challenge.
The Senior All-Star Challenge is the annual exhibition game featuring the top senior talent in the nation which takes place on the NCAA Women's Final Four weekend in the Final Four city. This Saturday, the top 20 senior collegiate players in women's basketball will showcase their talents at the University of Indianapolis' Nicoson Hall in front of fans, collegiate coaches, high school coaches and WNBA coaches, scouts and administrators who will keep a close eye on the budding pro talent assembled Saturday night. (Note: the 2005 WNBA Draft takes place on Saturday, April 16, and will be televised live by ESPN2 and NBA TV beginning at 11 a.m. (Central). The Charlotte Sting have the first pick.)
"Of course, I'd much rather be going to Indianapolis and playing in the Final Four, but that wasn't meant to happen for us," noted Schreiber, who finished her senior campaign averaging 10.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg for the 22-9 Longhorns which advanced to the NCAA second round. "Now, I am just going up to Indianapolis with the mindset of having fun and playing relaxed on Saturday."
"I spoke to (UT assistant) Coach Travis (Mays) last week and we talked about the right approach in these All-Star Games, since he's been a part of a lot of them and also coached in the WNBA," stated Schreiber. "He reminded me that the the coaches and scouts from the WNBA pretty much know our tendencies and game style after watching us the past few years, and that this game should be played for fun. The WNBA coaches won't be looking for any new surprises from anyone - they know all about our game, and so Coach Mays just reminded me to play the way I know, play hard and play my game and not try and do anything different."
Carey concurred with Schreiber's approach to Saturday's game.
"It's an honor to be invited to play, and I am looking forward to having a great experience in Indianapolis, although naturally I'd prefer to be playing with the rest of my teammates in the Final Four," stated Carey, who averaged 12.2 ppg and also collected a team-best 70 three-pointers as a senior. "I plan to mingle with the other players and coaches, play hard and have fun. The WNBA scouts pretty much know what our strengths and weaknesses are, since they've been following us for a few years. This is just a time to go against some of the best players in the country, and I certainly am looking forward to it."
The two are in agreement on the mindset of how to approach the Senior All-Star Challenge, but the preparation paths they have taken the last two weeks since the Longhorn season ended do differ in some ways.
Both took a few days off ("just two, to be exact", Carey stated) after UT's second-round NCAA tournament loss to Georgia. Then, it was back to work with weight training and lifting, running and shooting.
"Jamie and I have worked out together a lot since our season ended," Schreiber stated, "and lately, we've been joined in the weight room by Annissa (Hastings). We've done a lot of shooting in the gym, and just gotten back into a flow. Sometimes we shoot together, and other times we shoot on our own."
"I've gone to the gym early every day to shoot, and then later I usually join Heather in lifting and weight training," Carey said. "I also have been running on Town Lake, which I really enjoy. And, of course, with my heavy graduate class courseload, I've also been hitting the books hard."
Schreiber also spent a few days away from Austin, traveling back to her hometown of Windthorst, Texas - near Wichita Falls - to spend the Easter holiday with her family and friends. While at home, Schreiber was treated to celebrity status, appearing on local TV news telecasts and having feature articles written about her in the local newspaper - talking about her tremendous four-year career at Texas and her future basketball plans.
Carey, meanwhile, journeyed in the opposite direction for her Easter weekend, as she traveled south on I-35 to Mustang Island, located on the Gulf Coast near Port Aransas. Always drawn to the ocean, Carey relaxed on the beach with friends and her constant companion - her dog Hope - and, naturally "ran and ran again on the beach, as much as I could", she stated.
Carey and Schreiber will be the third and fourth players from UT head coach Jody Conradt's program to participate in the elite Senior All-Star Challenge. They follow former Longhorn All-American guard Edwina Brown (2000) and All-American post Stacy Stephens (2004) who both starred in the Senior All-Star game and went on to be WNBA draft picks.
Fans interested in attending the WBCA Senior All-Star Challenge and the High School All-America Game can order tickets by calling the University of Indianapolis' Athletic Department Office at (317) 788-3359, TicketWeb at 800-965-4827. Tickets for the "WBCA Night of All-Stars" start at $15.00 and $25.00 for reserved seating.