Welcome to the seventh opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponentís womenís basketball team and one player or coach on the team. Links to web pages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.
Houston enters the contest with a 5-1 record, losing its most recent game at Georgia by thirteen points. Before the loss to UGA, Houston won games against Gonzaga, Iowa, Northern Iowa, New Mexico State, and Alcorn State. The UNI game went into overtime.
Perhaps the most noticeable trait of Houstonís roster is the playersí size and experience: five of the thirteen players are taller than 6í4Ē and ten are either juniors or seniors. However, four of those ten are junior college transfers in their first year at Houston, so the experience factor may not play a large role in this game.
The Cougarsí game plan includes forcing their opponents into turnovers at the rate of twenty-five per game; of these turnovers, 91 have come from steals. The end result? The Cougars have attempted 58 more field goals than their opponents. Further proving that Houston is a defensive-minded club, the Cougars hold their opponents to 36.3% FG accuracy, which lowers to 28.6% from 3-point range.
Offensively, Houston doesnít shoot well: only one of its players shoots better than 50% from the field, only three shoot free throws at a clip higher than 70%, and only one player with more than 2 attempts makes 3-pointers better than 30% of the time. The Cougarsí overall stats are 37.6% from the field, 60% from the free throw line, and 29.4% from 3-point range. Considering those numbers include 48% FG shooting and 71.4% 3-point shooting against Alcorn State, it becomes clear that these Cougars arenít yet hitting their shooting stride against quality opponents.
Perhaps the oddest result of this poor shooting is that Houston hasnít outdistanced opponents in rebounding, despite a height advantage over most clubs (except Georgia). For all their size, the Cougars have snagged only one more rebound than their opponents this season. Once again, take into consideration the Cougarsí dominance on the boards against Alcorn State, 55-42, and it becomes clear that rebounding against quality opponents isnít one of the Cougarsí strengths.
Houstonís depth isnít is a foggy issue. While eleven players have seen action in five of the Cougarsí six games, every one of Houstonís starters averages at least 26.3 minutes per game while its two top reserves average 19.3 and 13.2 minutes per game. None of the reserves, however, average more than 4 points per game Houstonís players get involved with the action, but the starters are heavily relied upon to earn the W. Key players for the Cougars include 6'4" Amanda Barksdale, a transfer from Notre Dame; 6'4" Sancho Lyttle, the Cougars' leading rebounder at 8.7 per game; and 5'5" Joann Overstreet, who leads the Cougars in assists. The Cougars' top player, however, deserves a section all to herself.
The official website for the University of Houstonís womenís basketball team can be found at: http://uhcougars.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/hou-w-baskbl-body.html
The Class of 2000 in Texas had several fantastic players, including Lubbockís Erika Valek, Shereka Wright at Copperas Cove, Stacy Stephens at Winnsboro, Ashley Robinson of Grand Prairie, and Granburyís Jia Perkins. All have gone on to fine collegiate careers and have garnered a lot of press as their teams have been successful from their freshmen years on. None, however, have individually accomplished as much as Bay Cityís own Chandi Jones, now a senior at Houston.
Chandi, Houstonís all-time leading scorer and fifth all-time in Conference USA, won last seasonís national scoring title by averaging 27.5 point per game and is the two-time reigning Conference USA Player of the Year. The 5í11Ē Jones isnít merely a scorer, however, as her rebounding totals have increased from 5.7 to 5.8 to 8.1 per game through her junior year. Sheís also got good enough hands and anticipation to have averaged 3.4 steals per game last year and 3.5 to date this year.
For all of Chandiís individual accomplishments, however, sheís never been named a Kodak All-American or first-team player on any other All-American squad. Despite her good all-around game and leadership abilities, Jones may be one of the least-known superstars in the nation. Why? Her teams have yet to play in an NCAA tournament game, having finished 19-13, 26-8, and 15-13 in her first three years. While Purdue, Texas, Tennessee, and Texas Tech have been consistently good the past few years, Houston has been a mere blip on the national basketball radar, losing in the WNIT Finals in Chandiís sophomore year. The result? Chandi being passed over for All-American honors her first three years. Look for Chandi to get a bit of revenge over her more highly publicized classmates and she'll be picked ahead of all of them in the WNBA draft this year.
Chandi Jonesí official bio on the University of Houston website can be found at: http://uhcougars.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/jones_chandi00.html
There is an additional page devoted to Chandi on the Houston website: http://uhcougars.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/hou-chandijones.html
The University of Houston is a team that is full of contradictions, a team that operates with a lot of smoke-and-mirrors to pose as a solid collegiate team. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they arenít just yet. The illusions: its 5-1 record despite having lost to its only ranked opponent, its dominating size in the frontcourt not translating into solid points or rebounds per game, and its starters being forced to shoulder most of the minutes and scoring despite all but a couple of players playing in each game.
There are some solid-as-concrete strengthís in Houstonís game, however: they force turnovers, and make their opponents miss their shots at an abysmal rate. The only problems in Houston facing Purdue, then, lies in the fact that the Boilermakers shoot the basketball extremely well and the experienced backcourt of Valek and Jones shouldnít be as easy to intimidate into making turnovers as other backcourts the Cougars have faced this year. The Cougars are abysmal shooters themselves, so there is a good possibility that there will be plenty of rebounds available for players to grab.
The Purdue-Houston game will be an odd one, as Shereka will probably be on the short end of the stick if she faces Chandi Jones all night long. Not only will Jonesí scoring ability, including popping 3-pointers, wear out Shereka, but Jones also has the skills to shut down Shereka a little bit on offense. The other Boilermakers, therefore, canít expect Shereka to bail them out if the shot clock winds down: Erika, Beth, Lindsey, and Emily have to be aggressive on offense and take the open shots when theyíre available.
The biggest advantage that Purdue may have over the Cougars is bench play, as Katie and Erinís scoring punch should overwhelm tiring Cougar players. Sharika, Ashley, Carol, Indi, and Sabrina should be able to jump into the fray and offer the starters enough rest to regain their shooting legs.
If Purdue can keep its turnovers to a minimum and take some of the scoring pressure off of Shereka from the get-go, the Boilermakers should win in Houston. However, Chandi Jones may be woman enough to give the Boilermakers a run for their money all by herself. In the end, Purdue prevails, 73-62. However, there is a caveat: if Chandi goes off on the Boilermakers for 40 points or more, Houston will win.