Blair not looking for quick fix at Texas A&M
DALLAS -- Texas A&M coach Gary Blair came up with a quick way to rebuild his team.
"I'm here for the dispersal draft. I'm the rookie coach," Blair said Wednesday when he was the last coach on the podium during the Big 12 women's basketball media day. "Each team gets to protect five and we'll get one."
Actually, Blair isn't seeking a quick fix with the Aggies, who haven't won more than 13 games in any of the past seven seasons.
"I'd rather bring in freshmen first and build with them for four years," Blair said. "My patience is in a hurry, but I'm not in a hurry."
Blair spent the past 10 seasons at Arkansas, where he was 15-14 in season one and followed that with a 23-7 record and NCAA tournament appearance. At Stephen F. Austin before that, he went from 16-12 to 25-6 from the first to second seasons.
"If I could do it in my second year here, I'd be doing cartwheels," he said.<
^NO MORE MYSTERY:@ Baylor didn't know what to expect last season after losing two All-Big 12 players and 70 percent of its scoring from the year before. Then the Lady Bears were disappointed about missing the NCAA tournament.
The Bears regrouped from the disappointment and made it to the finals of the Women's NIT. And now with four starters and the top six scorers back, they are expecting even better results.
"There has been building on what we already have established," said senior guard Jessika Stratton. "That has been a definite positive."<
^WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?@ Senior center Trisha Skibbe is the only returning starter for Oklahoma State. Every other Big 12 team has at least three starters back.
Still, Skibbe should have more help this season.
"Trisha was really our only post player last year. Everything ran through her," said coach Julie Goodenough. "There was a lot of pressure on her to score. One of our main priorities was to find a couple of big girls to fit inside with her just to take the pressure off."
Goodenough, in her second season, also added three junior college guards.<
^GRADUATED GUARD:@ Nebraska's Margaret Richards earned her communications degree in August. But instead of getting a job, she stayed in school for one more basketball season.
"I love basketball and I think it's a great opportunity," Richards said. "I also didn't want to go out with last season. I wanted to come back, play hard and hopefully have a better season."
The Huskers were 8-20 last season.<
^LISTEN CLOSELY:@ Missouri lost only one starter, but that was point guard and vocal leader Kerensa Barr.
Sophomore LaToya Bond is the probable replacement. And she's definitely much quieter than Barr.
"She is soft-spoken, but she still speaks," said Missouri coach Cindy Stein. "The girls have to listen a little better. Karensa could just bark out orders but with LaToya they will have to focus a little more because they have to know what they are doing."<
^FREE THROWS:@ Iowa State had won at least 24 games in six straight years before last season's 12-16 record. "Our team will definitely be better. There's no doubt about it," said coach Bill Fennelly. "Will we be able to have a better record and higher standing? I don't think it's realistic this year because of the strength of our league." ... Colorado coach Ceal Barry wants to blend "old and new players" this season. She will start with a trio of senior starters who have played in three straight NCAA tournaments. "My challenge this year is to take our young players and bring them in and blend them with the new to create some chemistry," Barry said. ... Kansas returns all five starters from last year's 11-18 team. Among the rest of the nine players are seven newcomers.
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