WHO: Baylor Lady Bears vs. Palm Beach Atlantic (Exhibition)
WHEN: 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013
WHERE: Ferrell Center – Waco, Texas
RADIO: ESPN Central Texas - 1660 AM
VIDEO: Live streaming at www.BaylorBears.com
BAYLOR LADY BEARS
No wasted days and go get it… those are the two challenges posed to the 2013-14 Baylor Lady Bear basketball team this season by Lady Bear coach Kim Mulkey.
With that in mind, what a difference a year can make. Baylor's team goes from a veteran-laden roster to a team with nine underclassmen and just four upperclassmen. However, the shelf is not totally bare; as the 2013-14 Lady Bears will be led by National Player of the Year candidate Odyssey Sims. Also, a talented group of freshmen and sophomores will be counted on heavily to contribute this season.
Sims, a 5-8 senior point guard, is not only expected to lead the team on offense, she is regarded by many as the nation's best on-ball defender. Sims averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 assists per game as a junior while shooting 47.7 percent from the perimeter and 83.2 percent from the free throw line. Last season, the Irving, Texas, native ranked No. 2 nationally in assist/turnover ratio with a mark of 2.7 while checking in at No. 25 in assists and No. 36 in steals (2.8). Sims attended the USA Women's National Team mini-camp in early October and this past summer earned her second World University Games gold medal while receiving the tournament's co-MVP honor.
Sims, the 2013-14 Big 12 Conference Preseason Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and a finalist for all major postseason awards last year, will be joined in the leadership role by fellow seniors Mariah Chandler and Makenzie Robertson. Chandler, who graduated last May and has utilized a medical redshirt season, was hampered by injury her first two seasons prior to redshirting. The 6-2 post was completely healthy last season for the first time in her time at Baylor but with so many seniors at the post position, saw limited action. Robertson, a 5-9 shooting guard, averaged just over 10 minutes a game but could see considerable more court time this season. She will be counted on to nail 3-pointers, which she certainly is capable of doing, as evidenced by her 7-of-8 from beyond the arc performance at Hawai'i last season.
Sune Agbuke, a 6-4 post and the team's lone junior, will undoubtedly see considerably more playing time this year. After playing in the paint behind former Lady Bears Brittney Griner, Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams, it is now Agbuke's time to make her presence felt.
Nine players comprise the sophomore and freshman classes. Last year's Big 12 Conference Preseason Freshman of the Year, Alexis Prince, despite being hampered much of the season by stress fractures, exhibited flashes of excellence. After undergoing surgery on both feet in the offseason, Prince comes back healthy and ready to contribute heavily this year.
Point guard Niya Johnson was the only rookie to play in every game last season, gaining valuable court time and experience. She averaged over 13 minutes and 3.2 assists per contest and dished out the assist on three of Griner's dunks last season. Kristina Higgins, a 6-5 post, and Chardonae Fuqua', a 6-0 forward, averaged less than five minutes a contest as rookies but should gain more playing time as sophomores.
The five-member freshmen class comes into the program with impressive credentials. Ieshia Small, a guard, becomes the fourth Lady Bear to enter the program with McDonald's All-American honors on her resume, joining Johnson, Prince and Sims. The Miami, Fla., native earned 2013-14 Big 12 Preseason Freshman Player of the Year kudos, was the 2013 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year while fellow freshman forward Nina Davis (Memphis, Tenn.) was named Tennessee's Gatorade Player of the Year and earned Parade All-American recognition. Imani Wright, who hails from Hooks, Texas, and will see action at shooting guard, was one of 20 players selected to play in the 2013 WBCA All-American game. Breanna Hayden, a 5-8 guard, followed in her sister Kimetria's footsteps and joined the Baylor program. The Dallas native was named MVP of the TGCA All-Star game and earned district MVP honors as a senior. Rounding out the rookie class is 6-2 post Khadijiah Cave who hails from Augusta, Ga. Cave, a lefty, is expected to contribute in the paint this season.
Not only do the Lady Bears have five new players, two new coaches, both with head coaching experience have joined the fold. Sytia Messer comes to Baylor after stints at Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech, Memphis and Arkansas State. She was associate head coach at Georgia Tech last season and also served there as an assistant coach from 2004-09. Messer was head coach at Tennessee Tech for three seasons, earning 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Golden Eagles to the OVC regular season title. Toyelle Wilson begins her first season at Baylor after leading the Prairie View A&M Panthers to three straight SWAC Tournament championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
PALM BEACH ATLANTIC SAILFISH
Palm Beach Atlantic head coach Carlos Palacio enters his second season as the Sailfish head coach.
Boderick Johnson is a first-year assistant under Palacio. Johnson's daughter, Niya, is a sophomore on the Baylor women's basketball team. The Sailfish, an NCAA Division II school, finished 5-20 in Palacio's first season at the helm.
Season Tickets for Baylor Lady Bear basketball games are available through the Baylor Athletic Ticket Office at the Ferrell Center or by calling 1-800-BAYLORU or 254-710-1000. Tickets may also be purchased at BaylorBears.com.