'Roos Return Home For Matchup With Eagles
UMKC Athletics 12-13-2012
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The Kansas City women's basketball team (4-6) will return to Kansas City after six straight on the road when they welcome in Eastern Michigan (1-8) on Saturday.  The contest is slated for a 2 p.m. tip-off at the Swinney Recreation Center.

Opponent Preview

Eastern Michigan enters the contest with a 1-8 record overall, including a win over Northeastern and a 66-65 loss to Summit League foe South Dakota State.  On the season, the Eagles are led offensively by Miranda Tate's 14.1 ppg, while Olivia Fouty is scoring 10.7 ppg.  On the glass, Fouty tops the team at 8.3 rpg, with India Hairston adding 7.0.  As a team, EMU is out-shooting opponents from the free throw line 69.2%-68.3%.

Series Records

This will be the fourth meeting between the 'Roos and the Eagles, including the third straight, with Eastern Michigan leading 2-1 in the series.  Last season, Kansas City win an overtime thriller, 70-68 in Ypsilanti.

Coaching Matchup

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.

      The 2012-13 season is Verdi's first as head coach after being named to the position April 26, 2012, after spending the previous two season as an assistant women's basketball coach at the University of Kansas.  The 39-year old Verdi has strong ties throughout the Midwest and has worked at every level of women's basketball. An experienced coach at both the college and professional levels, he has been a part of 12 teams that have participated in the postseason since the 2001-02 campaign.


Last Time Out

The Kansas City women's basketball team fell 87-49 on Friday night to Minnesota at Williams Arena, despite junior Eilise O'Connor posting 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals in all 40 minutes of action.

      Junior Kara Lee added a career-high 12 points for the Kangaroos who drop to 4-6 on the season, while sophomore Rachel Banham led all scorers with 29 points for the Golden Gopher who improve to 8-3.  As a team, the Kangaroos put up 30 points in the paint against the bigger Big Ten opponent, while nearly matching the Gophers in bench points, scoring 18 to the Gophers 19.  Individually for the 'Roos, Ashli Hill grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go along with four points and a block, while Leathers finished with seven points.

Going the Distance

On the season, junior point guard Eilise O'Connor has played all 40 minutes of the game in four contest; Nov. 9 vs. Missouri Western State, Nov. 15 vs. Saint Louis, Nov. 30 at Air Force and Dec. 7 at Minnesota.  Overall, the San Francisco native is averaging 34.7 minutes per game.

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.

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.

Taking Care of the Rock

The Kangaroos are currently averaging just 13.5 turnovers per game, , the top mark in The Summit League and the 14th best mark in the NCAA, less than two more per game than the national leader.  Their assist to turnover ratio, meanwhile, ranks 102nd at 0.82, while their 1.6 turnover margin is 122nd.  Individually, point guard Eilise O'Connor sits 85th in the NCAA at 4.4 assists per game and 77th with a 1.74 assist turnover ratio.

Hot from Outside

Sophomore Lexis Hardiek has begun to heat up from beyond the three-point arc and is now hitting 53.3% of her three-point attempts, the second best mark in the league, while Eilise O'Connor ranks fourth at 48.0%.  As a team, the Kangaroos currently rank 64th in the nation with 34.3% mark from three-point range, the third best mark in the league.

Coaching Family

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.

Road Trip

After opening the season with the first four games at home, the 'Roos just ended a six game road trip and are in the midst of a span of 10 road games out of 12 contest.  Currently the squad holds a 2-4 mark in the contest with victories over LIU Brooklyn and Air Force.

Summit League Ranks

Kim Nezianya currently ranks fourth in the league in scoring (15.1), while ranking fifth in FG% (47.3) and sixth in rebounding (6.7).  Lexis Hardiek, meanwhile, is second in 3-pt.% (53.3), while Eilise O'Connor is third in scoring (15.2), fourth in 3-pt.% (48.0%), seventh in FT% (76.5), 10th in steals (1.7) and second in assists (4.4).  Defensively, Ashli Hill ranks second in blocks (1.6), while Hailey Houser is seventh (0.9).

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.

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.

'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 47 rebounds this season, the Carrollton, Texas, native now has 639 in her career, fifth 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 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 157, 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) and eighth in assists (276) 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 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 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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