#24 Texas Women's Basketball Preview

Texas Longhorns

Overall Rank:#24
Conference Rank: #4 Big-12
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In year five of Coach Gail Gostenkors quest to take Texas back to truly elite status, she returns a very talented mix of youth and experience. Last year was a struggle on the road, and losing Cokie Reed to injury was a huge roadblock. The Longhorns just could not get any extended consistency in their play leading to a 7-9 record in the loaded Big 12 conference. All the resources are in place for Texas for this season. The launch of the Longhorn Network gives Coach Gostenkors and her staff the ability to recruit the best of the best to the 40 acres. The 2011-12 season should be the beginning of making that step forward, provided the freshman step up and can contribute immediately and stay healthy.

2010-11: 19-14, 7-9
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Gail Gostenkors (85-50 at Texas, 480-149 overall)

Who’s Out:
Kathleen Nash’s experience in the backcourt and 14 points per contest will be a huge void to fill and a freshman, such as Cassie Peoples, will be expected early on to fill that hole. Nash was the first Texas women’s basketball player in school history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds, and 200 three-point shots during her stellar career.

Who’s In:
Coach Gostenkors and her staff brought in an absolutely loaded freshman class. Last year losing Cokie Reed for the season absolutely killed them up front in a league that had the likes of Brittney Griner and Danielle Adams of Texas A&M to deal with. Nneka Enemkpali is a 6-1 forward with fantastic athleticism and she should complete the shot blocking ferocity of Ashley Gayle down in the paint. Cassie Peoples, a shooting guard out of Houston, should bring some instant offense to the Longhorn backcourt and was voted preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year.  Both players were top 35 recruits in the College Sports Madness recruit ranking.

Who to Watch:
Chassidy Fussell is the spark to this engine on offense. She averaged over 16 points a game last season and should excel in what will most likely again be a three guard offense this season. The senior leadership of Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson will be critical to get the Longhorns out of the blocks early on as the young players continue to develop and get more acclimated to big time Big 12 women’s basketball.

Final Projection:
The schedule starts out with a battle against Stanford and a preseason road trip to a tournament in Hawaii where the Longhorns will take on the likes of Virginia, coached by former assistant coach Joanne Boyle. Tennessee is also on the slate. The Big 12 will be difficult as always with Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma right there in the mix for the conference championship. The play in the post and the health of Cokie Reed and whether she can return to her All Big-12 Freshman Team form will go a long way toward this team’s success. They got a jump start on the season with an 11-day tour over in Europe to help acclimate the loaded freshman class and begin to build team chemistry. The Longhorns should win 20 plus games and return to the NCAA Tournament. Recruiting should continue to excel with the launch of the Longhorn Network as recruits will have unprecedented access to women’s basketball games on that network.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Ashleigh Fontenette Senior, Guard, 11.7 PPG
Yvonne Anderson, Senior, Guard, 11.8 PPG
Chassidy Fussell, Sophomore, Guard, 16.2 PPG
Cokie Reed, Redshirt Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Ashley Gayle, Senior, Post, 7.0 PPG

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#17 Ashley Gayle
#19 Ashleigh Fontenette

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#32 Cassie Peoples
#33 Nneka Enemkpali
#62 Ronisha Major