NOTE: The complete 2005-06 Texas women's basketball schedule has not yet been finalized, and will be released at a later date in August.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Eight Division I women's basketball teams, including The University of Texas, will take their game to Grand Bahama Island this Thanksgiving weekend to compete in the third annual Junkanoo Jam Tournament, as announced by Basketball Travelers Inc., the tourney sponsor.
The Junkanoo Jam tourney, which takes place Friday and Saturday, November 25-26, is one of the most competitive early-season tourneys annually. The 2005 field includes Texas, George Washington, Purdue and South Carolina in the Lucaya Division, while Iowa State, North Carolina State, North Florida and Rutgers will compete in the Freeport Division. Each team plays two games, and the teams do not cross over the divisions. Site of the Junkanoo Jam is St. George's High School on Grand Bahama Island.
Texas, under the direction of head coach Jody Conradt, went 22-9 last year en route to a second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference regular season standings and an appearance in the NCAA Championship second round where the Longhorns lost to Georgia, 70-68. This marks the first-ever appearance for Texas at the Junkanoo Jam.
In first-round action in the Lucaya Division on November 25, Purdue and George Washington start action with a noon (Central time) tip, followed by Texas and South Carolina at 2:30 p.m. (Central). The Lucaya's third-place game takes place at noon on Saturday, Nov. 26th, followed by the championship game at 2:30 p.m. (Central).
In the Freeport Division, Iowa State and N.C. State play on November 25th in their first-round game at 5 p.m. (Central), followed by North Florida and Rutgers at 7:30 p.m. (Central); the Freeport Division's third-place and championship games are at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, on November 26.
The 2004 Junkanoo Jam champions were Duke (Freeport Division) and Iowa (Lucaya Division).
In the Lucaya Division, three of the four teams in this year's division advanced to the NCAA tournament second round (Texas, GWU, Purdue).
The Longhorns lost six seniors to graduation from last year's 22-9 squad, and Conradt welcomes the largest freshman class in school history (seven) to the UT campus this season. This UT freshman class is considered the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
Texas is led by 2005 U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Associated Press All-America 6-3 junior forward Tiffany Jackson (Dallas, Texas) who notched team-highs of 18.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.32 steals and 1.9 blocks per game and had the best field goal percentage among all UT starters (.560). She had a game-high 30 points and added 10 boards and four steals in UT's final game, as the No. 3 seeded Longhorns were upended by No. 6 seed Georgia, 70-68, March 21 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Texas was denied a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 with the setback at the hands of Georgia. Included in Jackson's 30 points against Georgia was the 1,000th career point of Jackson's career. She will enter her junior year with 1,023 career points.
In addition to her All-America honors, Jackson also was a finalist for Kodak All-America honors and a finalist for the State Farm Wade Trophy and Wooden Award as National Player of the Year. She was an All-Big 12 First Team pick (one of five chosen) and a member of the five-player Big 12 All-Tournament Team.
Joining Jackson as UT's top returnees are 5-8 senior guard Nina Norman (7.8 ppg, 3.5 assists per game) and 5-11 senior guard Coco Reed (3.7 ppg). The highly-touted freshman class is led by 5-10 guard Erika Arriaran (Norco, Calif.), the 2005 Parade Magazine and State Farm/WBCA National High School Player of the Year who currently is playing on the USA Basketball U-19 Team at the U19 World Championships in Tunisia.
Last year, the George Washington Colonials went 23-9. Head coach Joe McKeown's Colonials lost three starters and will look to Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year 5-8 sophomore G Kimberly Beck for floor leadership (8.0 ppg and a conference-high 5.1 assists per game last season) and 5-10 junior guard Kenan Cole (7.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
The Purdue Boilermakers lost to eventual Final Four participant Tennessee in last year's NCAA second round. Purdue returns four starters from that 17-13 squad, as well as the top-five leading scorers on the season. Head coach Kristy Curry's squad , under head coach Kristy Curry will look to leading scorers 6-2 junior F Erin Lawless (14.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and 6-1 G/F Katie Gearlds (14.1 ppg and 3.8 rpg).
Coming off of what head coach Susan Walvius called "a rebuilding year," the University of South Carolina returns every player in 2005-06 after going 8-21 last year with a roster comprised of 11 freshmen and sophomores and only one upperclassman. Top returnees include a pair of junior guards, 5-9 Lauren Simms (11.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and 5-8 Stacy Booker (8.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg).
In the Freeport Division, Rutgers (28-7) advanced to the 2005 NCAA Elite Eight and will be led by senior guard Cappie Pondexter (14.7 ppg, 3.1 assists per game) and 5-8 sophomore guard Matee Ajavon (12.4 ppg and 3.5 apg). Iowa State (23-7 last year and NCAA first round participants) lost its top three point producers to graduation and will rely on returning starters 5-9 junior guard Lyndsey Medders (9.7 ppg) and 6-1 junior forward Megan Ronhovde (9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg). N.C. State has its top five leading scorers back from its 21-8 campaign and 2005 NCAA first-round showing, including seniors Tiffany Stansbury (11.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Billie McDowell (11.5 ppg, 2.0 apg). North Florida will make its Division I debut this year after competing last year in the Division II Peach Belt Conference, finishing with a 13-16 record.