Kansas City Hits The Road For The First Time This Season At VCU
UMKC Athletics 11-19-2012
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The Kansas City women's basketball team (2-2) will hit the road for the first time this season when the Kangaroos head to Richmond, Va., to take on VCU (0-3).  Tip-off between the 'Roos and the Rams is slated for 6 p.m. CT at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Opponent Preview

VCU enters the game with an 0-3 contest, dropping road contests to Elon, Manhattan and Old Dominion.  On the season, Robyn Parks leads the Rams at 17.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game, while Jessica Pellechio is adding 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds each contest.  In the backcourt, Carleeda Green has a team-high 14 assists to go along with 9.3 points per game, while Shekinah Henry is averaging 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 points.  As a team, VCU is hitting 43.0 percent of its threes and out-rebounding its opponents on average 43.0 to 38.3.

Series Records

Last season was the first meeting between the Kansas City and VCU with the Rams winning 78-70 on Nov. 19 in the Swinney Recreation Center.  In the game Brianna Eldridge led the UMKC effort, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds, including eight offensive, while scoring three points, dishing out three assists and notching two steals.  Offensively, Dayon Hall-Jones posted a team-high 16 points, while LeAndrea Thomas finished with 13 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists.  Hailey Houser, meanwhile, matched her career-high with 10 points off the bench.

Coaching Matchup

After picking up her first two wins against Southeast Missouri State and Saint Louis, Kansas City head coach Marsha Frese will look for her first road win when she guides the 'Roos against the Rams.  Prior to UMKC, Frese served as the associate head coach at Northern Illinois and Illinois, while serving as an assistant at Ball State, Maryland and Minnesota during her career.

            Marlene Stollings, the 2012 Big South Conference Coach of the Year at Winthrop University, was named head women's basketball coach at VCU on June 5, 2012.  Stollings, the 13th coach in VCU Women's Basketball history, made a splash in her first year as a head coach in 2011-12, guiding Winthrop to more than 40 team and individual school records, including just the program's second winning season (18-13) in 26 years.  Prior to joining the Eagles, Stollings served as an assistant at Southeastern Conference power Ole Miss from 2007-11 with the final season as the Rebels' associate head coach.  Her more than decade-long coaching and recruiting career also includes stops in the Atlantic 10, Sun Belt and Horizon League.

Last Time Out

The Kansas City women's basketball team (2-2) fell 78-55 on Sunday afternoon to Pac-12 foe Colorado (2-0) at the Swinney Recreation Center despite three Kangaroos reaching double figures in the contest.

            For the 'Roos, senior Kim Nezianya topped the team with 17 points eight rebounds and two steals, while freshman Lauren Dudding added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including knocking down all three of her attempts from beyond the arc.  For Kansas City, junior Eilise O'Connor was the final 'Roos in double figures with 10 points, while Houser finished with six points and two blocks.  As a team, the Kangaroos finished 11-of-14 from the free throw line, while knocking down 6-of-12 from three-point range.

Battling The A-10

Tuesday's match-up with the Rams will be the 'Roos second meeting with an opponent from the Atlantic-10 after defeating Saint Louis 56-53 on Nov. 15.

O' Captain

Senior forward Kim Nezianya and junior guard Eilise O'Connor were named as the Team Captains in a vote by the team's players and coaches.  The players were selected after members of the team went through an evaluation process with their teammates and coaches.

300th Win

The UMKC women's basketball program picked up its 300th win with its 69-64 win over Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 12.

Future 'Roos in the Fold

Head Coach Marsha Frese and the Kansas City women's basketball team added three future 'Roos to the mix during the early signing period with the addition of 5-7 point guard Calli White, 6-0 forward Taylor Strickland and 6-1 forward Grace Mitchell.  The trio will represent the first signing class under Frese.  White and Strickland join the 'Roos as all-state performers out of Arkansas where they are teammates on Team Arkansas AAU team, while Mitchell comes from Plano, Texas and was her team's MVP a season ago.

'Roos Tabbed Second in Summit League Preseason Poll

The Kansas City women's basketball team was picked to finish second in The Summit League this season in a vote by the league head coaches, SID's and media.

School (1st place votes)                                        Points

1. South Dakota State (22)                                            330

2. Kansas City (1)                                                              260

3. Oakland                                                                               234

4. North Dakota State                                                      221

5. IUPUI (1)                                                                              213

6. South Dakota                                                                   151

7. Western Illinois                                                              138

8. Fort Wayne (1)                                                                    96

9. Omaha                                                                                    43

O'Connor and Nezianya Honored by the League

Senior forward Kim Nezianya and junior guard Eilise O'Connor were each selected to the Preseason First Team All-Summit League.  Kansas City teammates Nezianya, an all-tournament team honoree last season, and O'Connor, and Honorable Mention All-League selection, represent the only teammates on the First Team after helping the Kangaroos to just their second appearance all-time in the championship game last year.

College Sports Madness Recognizes a Trio of 'Roos

Kansas City women's basketball junior Eilise O'Connor was named to the preseason First Team All-Summit League, while senior Kim Nezianya and junior Ashli Hill were each named to the Second Team according to College Sports Madness.

Rockin' 'Roo Talent Show

The women's basketball team walked away the winners of the third annual Rockin' Roo Talent Show on April 12.  This year's event was held at the Student Union Theater on the UMKC campus and consisted of celebrity judges evaluating nine teams and their acts in front of a crowd of 300.

Cousins on the Roster

The UMKC roster will feature cousins Kelsey Barnwell and Lauren Dudding this season after the duo each decided to join the 'Roos out of separate states.  Barnwell comes to the squad out of Kansas, Okla., while Dudding is a Lubbock, Texas, native.  Junior Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, enters her third season in the Blue & Gold after becoming familiar with the school thanks to her cousin and UMKC Hall of Famer Katie Houlehan.

Teammates Reunited

This season, senior Emile Blakesley and junior Kara Lee are reunited on the court after spending the 2010-11 season as teammates at Hutchinson Community College.  That year, the duo helped the Blue Dragons to 29-4 record, a conference championship and a spot in the NJCAA Region VI Semifinals.

Nezianya on the Glass

Senior forward Kim Nezianya entered the 2012-13 season as the leading active rebounder in The Summit League with 592. After leading the Kangaroos in rebounding in each of her first three seasons, along with her five rebounds this season, the Carrollton, Texas, native now has 597 in her career, seventh most in school history.

Kansas City Record Book

Several members of the current Kansas City women's basketball team have already placed their names in the school's record book.  Senior Kim Nezianya is currently seventh all-time in rebounds with 597 in her career and ninth in three-point percentage at .354, while her 263 rebounds  and .392 three-point percentage last season rank sixth and 10th, respectively.  Junior Ashli Hill, meanwhile, is second all-time in blocks with 147, while her total from her freshman and sophomore seasons rank fourth and fifth all-time.  Junior Eilise O'Connor, the final 'Roo, sits eighth in free throw percentage (.766) in her career, while  ranking third in assists (154) and eighth in free throws made (104) and attempted (136) in a season.

Swinney Recreation Center

The home of UMKC Athletics, the Swinney Recreation Center houses the Kangaroo administration, coaches and student-athletes. The Dutton Brookfield Strength and Conditioning Center, the Victor F. Swyden Athletics Training Facility and the Student-Athlete Support Services Office also are located in the facility.  Over the past three seasons, the facility has received a major face-lift including upgraded bleachers and a new floor installed this past summer.

Last Season

Last season, the Kansas City women's basketball team had one of its best ever, finishing 22-12, making it to the championship game of The Summit League Tournament and appearing for the first time ever in the WNIT, while four 'Roos earned postseason honors for their play on the court.

2012 Kansas City Women's Basketball Team Accomplishments

  • 22 win is the 2nd most in school history and only second 20 win season
  • 6 road wins is most in school history
  • 12 home wins is 3rd most in school history
  • 4 neutral court wins is the most in school history
  • Played in Summit League Tournament Championship Game for the 2nd time in school history
  • Defeated three RPI top-100 teams
  • Led The Summit League in off. rebound % (.357) and off. rebounding (14.3)
  • Had five comeback wins when trailing by double-digits

2011-12 Individual Honors

Last season, several 'Roos received individual honors, including Dayon Hall-Jones who was named First Team All-Summit League by the league and Second Team by College Sports Madness, to the All-Summit League Tournament, to the World Vision Basketball Invitational All-Tournament Team and league player of the week three times.  Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, was named Honorable Mention All-League by the league and to the Third Team by College Sports Madness, while LeAndrea Thomas was named the league's Sixth Woman of the Year and league player of the week once and Kim Nezianya was named to the  Fourth Team All-League by College Sports Madness and to the All-Summit League Tournament Team.

The Seniors

This season, the 'Roos will be led by a pair of seniors in four-year member Kim Nezianya and second-year member Emile Blakesley.  In 2011-12, Nezianya averaged 11.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while being named to the All-Summit League Tournament Team, while Blakesley posted 2.4 ppg, 19 rebounds, 15 assists and 11 steals.

Fresh Faces

In 2012-13, the Kangaroo roster will feature five newcomers, including four freshman who will see plenty of action with just 11 players on the roster.  This year's club welcomes in junior college transfer Kara Lee, along with freshman Taylor Leathers, Jordan Evans, Lauren Dudding and Kelsey Barnwell.

'Roos In The Backcourt

Starting point guard, Eilise O'Connor (5-8), returns for her third-year after being named preseason First Team All-Summit League and will serve as one of the team's two team captains.  Joining O'Connor in the backcourt is a pair of second year 'Roos in senior Emile Blakesley (5-8) and sophomore Lexis Hardiek (5-7).  Last season, the sharpshooting duo combined to hoist 95 of their 103 field goals from three-point range, knocking down 33.  Rounding out the Kansas City guards are freshmen cousins Kelsey Barnwell (5-8) and Lauren Dudding (5-9).  Barnwell comes to Kansas City out of Jay, Okla., where she was a three-time all-state selection after leading Kansas High School to a state championship during her tenure.  Dudding, meanwhile, joins the 'Roos out of Lubbock, Texas, where she was named the District 2-5A and Avalanche Journal Player of the Year a season ago.

Kansas City at The Forward

At the forward position, the Kangaroos feature the longest tenured 'Roo on the roster in four-year member Kim Nezianya (6-0), who has led the 'Roos in rebounding in each of her three seasons, while being named to The Summit League Championship All-Tournament Team a season ago.  This year, Nezianya enters the year as a preseason First Team All-Summit League selection and team captain.  Taylor Leathers (6-0) joins the 'Roos out of Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, Kan., where she led the Tigers to a runner-up finish in the Kansas 5A State Championship as a junior.  Jordan Evans (6-2), meanwhile, comes to Kansas City from Tulsa, Okla., where she guided Webster High School to the 4A Area 3 District Championship in each of the three previous seasons.

Women in the Middle

In the middle, the Kangaroos will send out a trio of juniors all over 6-3.  In 2011-12, Lawrence, Kan., native Ashli Hill (6-5) improved both her points and rebound per game numbers, including notching a career-high 20 points in Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas.  Hailey Houser (6-3) enters her third season at UMKC after posting 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game last season, while twice matching her career-high of 10 points.  Kara Lee (6-4), meanwhile, helped Hutchinson Community College to a 33-1 record and a runner-up finish in the national championship game a season ago, while averaging seven points and four rebounds per contest.

The Staff

The 2012-13 Kansas City women's basketball coaching staff returns four members from last season's staff, while adding one new assistant coach.  Associate head coach Bruce Erickson enters his fourth season with the program, while assistant coach Meredith Doyle enters her third year at UMKC.  Jessica Trahan, meanwhile, enters her fifth season as the Director of Basketball Operations with the program, while Liz Sowers is in her second year as a graduate assistant coach after serving as a graduate manager.  Danielle Gratton is the final member of the staff, serving as the squad's other assistant in her first season.

'Roos In The Classroom

Last season, eight 'Roos were named to The Summit League Academic All-League team, Kaycie Boyles, Sydney Crimmins, Brianna Eldridge, Dayon Hall-Jones, Lexis Hardiek, Kelsey Knoche, Kim Nezianya and Eilise O'Connor.  In order to be named to academic all-league team, each student-athlete must post a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the semester in which they compete.  Additionally, Boyles, Crimmins, Hardiek, Knoche and O'Connor were each named a Distinguished Scholar for posting a GPA above 3.6.

            Meanwhile, Boyles, Eldridge, Hall-Jones, Hailey Houser, Knoche, Nezianya and O'Connor, were named to the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence for posting a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. 

Women's Hoops To Be Aired On KCWJ 1030 AM The Light & Hot Talk 1510 AM

Kangaroo fans will now have the opportunity to follow the UMKC women's basketball both home and away this season.  During the 2012-13 campaign, all 32 Kangaroo women's basketball games will be broadcast on the radio on KCWJ 1030 AM The Light and Hot Talk 1510 AM. T.J. Jackson will call all the play-by-play action for the 'Roos for the seventh straight season.

                        KSMO, meanwhile, will broadcast two TV games this season, including Nov. 8 against Colorado and Dec. 28 against Omaha.

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