The Kansas City women's basketball team (4-11, 0-2) will look to snap its seven game losing streak when it takes on North Dakota State (4-10, 0-2) in Fargo, N.D. Tip-off between the Kangaroos and the Bison is slated for 7 p.m. at Bison Sports Arena.
North Dakota State enters the game with a 4-10 record overall and an 0-2 mark in Summit League play after falling to South Dakota State and South Dakota in its first two contests. Offensively, Katie Birkel (11.8 ppg) and Dani Degagne (11.6) are each averaging double figures, while Janae Burich tops the team in rebounding at 7.0 rpg. As a team, the Bison are knocking down 77.2% of their free throws
North Dakota State leads the series 6-5 overall despite the Kangaroos winning both contests a season ago. On Jan. 16, the 'Roos won 76-58 in Fargo, their first road win in the series, and 68-64 on Feb. 13 in Kansas City.
Renowned for her top-notch recruiting classes, Marsha Frese enters her first season as head women's basketball coach at UMKC. Named as the Kangaroo head coach on April 25, 2012, Frese brings 15 seasons of experience as a Division-I player and coach to the UMKC campus. 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.
Carolyn DeHoff enters her fifth season as head women's basketball coach at North Dakota State University with more than the usual head coaching experiences in her back pocket. She has compiled a 56-62 record overall including a 40-32 ledger in The Summit League. NDSU finished the 2012 season 11-20 overall with an 8-10 record in The Summit League, good for fifth place. Her first season saw the roster whittled down to six scholarship players and two walk-ons; NDSU stayed focused and put together a 16-13 record overall, including a 12-6 mark in The Summit League and third place finish.
Last Time Out
The Kansas City women's basketball team (4-11, 0-2) dropped its Summit League road opener, 82-47 on Thursday night to South Dakota State (10-5, 2-0) at Frost Arena in a rematch of last season's Summit League Tournament Championship game.
Junior Eilise O'Connor led the Kansas City effort with 15 points, including knocking down 11-of-12 free throws, three assists, three steals and two rebounds, while playing all 40 minutes for the seventh time this season.
Going the Distance
On the season, junior point guard Eilise O'Connor has played all 40 minutes of the game in seven contests; Nov. 9 vs. Missouri Western State, Nov. 15 vs. Saint Louis, Nov. 30 at Air Force, Dec. 7 at Minnesota, Dec. 19 at Texas Southern, Dec. 21 at New Mexico State and Jan. 3 at South Dakota State. Overall, the San Francisco native is averaging 36.2 minutes per game.
Midway Point of the Season
Coming out of the Christmas Break, the 'Roos have reached the halfway point of the season with only Summit League contests remaining. The squad will look to rebound from its 4-9 non-league record with a strong showing in its 16 league contests.
O'Connor and Nezianya Nab Back-to-Back POW Honors
Eilise O'Connor was named The Summit League Player of the Week on Dec. 3 after averaging 26.5 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio. She also shot 52 percent (15-of-29) from the floor, including 89 percent (8-of-9) from long-range.
Kim Nezianya,meanwhile, garnered the honor on Nov. 26 after averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest while shooting 44 percent (18-of-41) from the field, 40 percent (2-of-5) from behind the arc and 71 percent (5-of-7) at the line.
Blakesley Earns 'Roos Third POW Honor
Kansas City women's basketball senior guard Emile Blakesley was named The Summit League Player of the Week after recording a career-high 16 points against Eastern Michigan after entering the contest averaging just 1.9 ppg. She also added career-highs of five rebounds, four assists, four steals, five field goals and four 3-pointers made. Blakesley shot 71 percent (5-of-7) from the field, 67 percent (4-of-6) from downtown and was a perfect 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
Nezianya and O'Connor Named All-Tournament
Senior Kim Nezianya was named to the LIU Turkey Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.0 spg., while shooting 50.0% from three-point range. Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, captured her second career all-tournament team honor after being named to the Air Force Classic All-Tournament Team with averages of 26.5 points, 10.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while hitting 8-of-9 from three-point range in the win over Air Force and the loss to Boise State.
Junior Center Ashli Hill has made her mark on the defensive end of the court for the 'Roos, as the Lawrence, Kan., native currently ranks 35th in the nation and first in The Summit League in blocked shots at 2.0 per game, while the 'Roos as a team are first in the league at 3.9 bpg.
Taking Care of the Rock
The Kangaroos are currently averaging just 15.1 turnovers per game, the top mark in The Summit League and the 46th best mark in the NCAA. Individually, point guard Eilise O'Connor sits 62nd in the NCAA at 4.8 assists per game and 117th with a 1.41 assist turnover ratio.
Kansas City head coach Marsha Frese comes from a strong coaching family as her sister, Brenda Frese, serves as the head coach at the University of Maryland. Since her first season at the helm when the team won just 10 games, Frese has guided Maryland to a National Championship in 2006, nine winning seasons, eight-straight 20-win seasons, four 30-win campaigns and eight trips to the NCAA Tournament. In 2006-07, Maryland also received its first-ever No. 1 preseason national ranking, remaining in the top spot in the polls for 10-consecutive weeks.
After opening the season with the first four games at home, the 'Roos are in the midst of a span of 10 road games out of 12 contest. Currently the squad holds a 2-6 mark in the contest with victories over LIU Brooklyn and Air Force.
Summit League Ranks
Lexis Hardiek is fifth in 3-pt.% (42.6), while Eilise O'Connor is second in scoring (15.8), fifth in FT% (81.2) and third in assists (4.8). Defensively, Ashli Hill ranks first in blocks (2.0), while Hailey Houser is fifth (0.9).
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 fifth all-time in rebounds with 639 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 169, while her total from her freshman and sophomore seasons rank fourth and fifth all-time. Junior Eilise O'Connor, the final 'Roo, sits tied for sixth in free throw percentage (.778) and seventh in assists (298) in her career, while ranking third in assists (154) and eighth in free throws made (104) and attempted (136) in a season.
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.
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.
'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.
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 47 rebounds this season, the Carrollton, Texas, native now has 639 in her career, fifth most in school history.
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, 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.
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.
In 2012-13, the Kangaroo roster will feature five newcomers, including four freshman who will see plenty of action with just 12 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.
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.