Lady Raiders Ready for 1999-2000 Season
Oct. 14, 1999
LUBBOCK, Texas - The 1999-2000 Lady Raider basketball team will be unveiled this weekend when the team begins its first official day of practice on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m. Tech will also practice on Sunday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. Both practices are open to the public and will be held in the women’s gym.
The list of Lady Raider coach Marsha Sharp’s accomplishments is long and impressive: back-to-back Big 12 regular season championships, back-to-back Big 12 Tournament Championships, back-to-back Big 12 Coach of the Year awards, 10-straight NCAA appearances. But, if the Lady Raiders add to their accomplishments in the 1999-2000 season, it will be done by a new group of headliners.
Rene Hanebutt, Cara Gibbs, Julie Lake and Angie Braziel accounted for 48.2 points, 18.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game, making up the bulk of the team that Marsha Sharp called one of the all-time favorites to watch play. All is not lost, though, as 1998-99 starters Melinda Schmucker-Pharies and Keitha Dickerson and key role players Katrisa O’Neal, Aleah Johnson and Kristi Washington will look to leave their mark on Lady Raider basketball.
Sharp feels, for the 1999-2000 version of the Lady Raiders, much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of her most experienced players.
“At this point we haven’t had a workout without that crew (Braziel, Gibbs, Hanebutt and Lake) and I think there are still a lot of question marks for this basketball team,” Sharp said. “The good news is there are a lot of spots up for grabs and that usually makes your competition within your team pretty strong. I don’t think there’s any question we’ll have to rely heavily upon our senior class. Those three have got to step up and perform.”
In 1998-99, Schmucker-Pharies tallied 188 assists, second on the all-time Tech list, to lead Texas Tech for the second-straight year. In her career the senior guard from Nazareth has dished out 416 assists and needs 138 in her senior season to become the Lady Raiders’ career assists leader. Schmucker-Pharies was the work horse on the Tech squad in 98-99, leading the team in minutes played with 1,131 in her second-consecutive season to start every game. As a freshman, Schmucker-Pharies averaged 5.9 points per game, then slumped to 3.5 as a sophomore, but matched her freshman scoring average last season.
“Melinda Schmucker ran our basketball team tremendously the last couple of years when we won Big 12 titles,” Sharp said. “I think now she’s going to have to be a little bit more of a scorer too.”
Dickerson joined Schmucker-Pharies last season as the only non-seniors to start all 34 games for the Raiders. Dickerson, who was second on the team a year ago in rebounds per game at 7.7, enters the 1999-2000 season as Tech’s most experienced post player having played in 92 games in her Lady Raider career.
But the departure of Angie Braziel and her 20 plus points a game last season means Dickerson will need to contribute more offensively.
“Dickerson was outstanding on the defensive end and rebounding last season,” Sharp said. “I think we’ll count on her to give us a few more points this time.”
Johnson saw significant action in 1998-99, her first season as a Lady Raider. As a junior, she showed flashes of brilliance, scoring in double figures three times and finishing one rebound shy of a double-double versus UT-San Antonio.
Of all the returning players, Sharp said the player affectionately known as A.J. by her teammates and coaches will have the most dramatic adjustment to her role this season.
“I think she really does have to give us some offense and be a go-to player in our system this time around,” Sharp said. “That’s not any secret to her or anyone else associated with us.”
In two seasons O’Neal has gained a reputation as the Lady Raiders Princess of Thieves. O’Neal had 94 takeaways last season, seventh on Tech’s all-time single season list, to move her career total to 165. Sharp points to O’Neal, as well as the team’s undefeated record when junior guard started games last season, as a player who has earned the opportunity to have a major impact for Texas Tech.
During the recruiting season, Texas Tech netted a pair of high school standouts from the same prep squad. Courney Pastner earned player of the year for the state of Texas for her senior season, while Kingwood teammate Plenette Pierson was a WBCA All-American selection as a senior in high school.
“They’re both outstanding players,” Sharp said. Pastner really brings a lot of confidence and a lot of savvy to the point guard position which will be really important to our team even if it’s in a back up role as a freshman. There’s no question how much she’s going to play. Plenette Pierson gives you the exact same look on the other end. She’s going to be an outstanding post player. I think she’s one of the best freshmen we’ve ever signed.”
Six foot seven inch center Jamie Nagle from Carthage will become the tallest player to ever wear a Lady Raider uniform. Sharp said her Nagle’s size means she has the potential to impact the team from the very first game. Nikki Hendrix, a 6-0 forward from Ardmore, Okla., brings versatility to the three position in the Lady Raider scheme as a big player with play making ability.
The most anticipated newcomer this season won’t be putting on a Tech jersey. Sharp will have a valuable sixth man in the brand-new 15,000-seat United Spirit Arena. In the Sharp era, the Lady Raiders had an .870 winning percentage at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum. Along with adding to a Tech tradition of home court excellence, the United Spirit Arena will give the Texas Tech program a priceless recruiting tool.
Official Gear of the