Women's Basketball Opens Exhibition Season Monday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 08, 1999

Nov. 8, 1999

Norrkoping Proderm (Sweden)(1-3)

Monday, November 8, 1999
Lloyd Noble Center (11,100) - Norman, Okla.

Radio: None

Tonight is the first of two exhibition games for the University of Oklahoma women's basketball team. The Sooners face Norrkoping Proderm of Sweden inside the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m.

Next Saturday, Nov. 13, the men's and women's basketball teams will host a double header at the Lloyd Noble Center as they play their final exhibition games of the season. The women's game is slated to start at 3 p.m. against Club Gija Marijampole of Lithuania, while the men will tip-off at 7 p.m. against Athletes First.

The Norrkopoing Proderm enter tonight's contest on a three-game losing streak. The Flamingos own a 1-3 record with their only victory coming against The University of Tulsa, 69-64, on Nov. 3, in Tulsa. Southwest Missouri State (81-58), Arkansas (109-69) and Oklahoma State (98-58) defeated the Swedish team last weekend.

Forward Johanna Axelsson leads the Flamingos in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game, followed by guard Katja Lefwerth's 11.8 ppg. Axelsson, 5-11, unleashed a game-high 26 points against Southwest Missouri State and Lefwerth scored 18 points against the Cowgirls last night. Center Hanna Bjorklund, 6-2, is the team leader in rebounds, averaging of 8.8 per contest. Lefwerth, 5-11, ranks second on the team in rebounds with 5.3 per game.

Oklahoma returns five starters and seven letterwinners from a team that played in its first postseason tournament, WNIT, and recorded its first winning record, 15-14, since the 1994-95 squad. That same team also finished tied for fifth in the Big 12 Conference, after a preseason predication of 10th. The Sooners ended the 1999 campaign ranked 29th in the nation in scoring (75.5 ppg), 27th in rebound margin (+5.4) and 28th in free throw percentage (.730).

This year, OU returns 85.5 percent of its scoring and 83.1 percent of its rebounding. Plus, the Sooners welcome back three-time All-Big 12 selection Phylesha Whaley. Whaley has led the team in scoring for the past three years and rebounding for the last two seasons. The Slaton, Texas, native ended her junior season ranked 34th in the nation in points per game, averaging 19.6. Whaley became the school's first preseason women's basketball All-American by the Women's Basketball Journal in September. She currently ranks among the school's all-time best in 17 career statistics and sits at No. 5 on the all-time scoring chart with 1,501 points. The 5-10 power forward is 647 points and 440 rebounds shy of becoming the school's all-time best in each category.

Sophomores LaNeishea Caufield and Stacey Dales also return for Oklahoma. Caufield was named the 1999 Big 12 Freshman of the Year while averaging 15.8 ppg and 5.3 rebounds per game. Dales, who played on the Canadian National team last summer, was voted to the 1999 All-Big 12 honorable mention team after scoring 11.9 ppg, third on the team, and grabbing 5.3 boards, second on the team, per outing. Both guards already appear among the Sooners' all-time great in women's basketball. Caufield is among the best in scoring, free throws made, free throw percentage and minutes played average. Dales appears among the best in scoring, three-point field goals made, three-point field goals attempted, rebounding average and minuted played average.

Junior Desiree Taylor and sophomore Shannon Selmon complete the Sooners starting five from a year ago. Taylor was very effective in the paint hitting 57.7 percent of her shots. She also averaged 4.1 boards and 9.6 points per game. Selmon earned a starting role for the last 11 games of the 1999 season. With the Norman product in the starting lineup the Sooners were 7-4. She was one of the most consistent players for Head Coach Sherri Coale, averaging 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 points per game.

Also returning from last year's squad is junior guard Sunny Hardeman and sophomore center Jennifer Cunningham. Hardeman appeared in the starting lineup five times, averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 assists per game. Cunningham played in 21 games last year with a torn anterior cruiate ligament and torn meniscus. The Kingston, Ontario, native scored 3.8 points and grabbed 2.4 rebounds per game.

At the Lloyd Noble Center last year, the Sooners went 10-3 in overall games, 5-0 in non-conference games and averaged 1,558 fans per contest.

For the past four seasons, Oklahoma has gone 4-4 in its exhibition games and for the 1990's OU is 7-7 in preseason action. Last year the Sooners defeated Latvia, 95-91, and lost to Slovakia, 71-65. Senior star Phylesha Whaley did not play against Slovakia, due to an elbow injury. That was Whaley's first and only game she has not played in as a Sooner.

The Oklahoma women's basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the 1999-2000 Big 12 Conference Preseason Coaches and Big 12 Media Polls.

Oklahoma's sixth place predication is its highest ever under Head Coach Sherri Coale. OU, who returns all five starters, was one of nine Big 12 teams that participated in postseason action a year ago. The Sooners had a winning record of 15-14 and ended the 1998-99 season ranked among the nation's best in scoring (29th/75.5 ppg), rebound margin (27th/+5.4) and free throw percentage (28th/73.0).

Coaches Preseason Poll

 1. Iowa State (11)    121

 2. Kansas             102

 3. Nebraska            92

 4. Texas (1)           90

 5. Texas Tech          83

 6. Oklahoma            74

 7. Kansas State        59

 8. Colorado            54

 9. Missouri            49

10. Oklahoma State      31

11. Baylor              19

12. Texas A&M           18

Media Preseason Poll

 1. Iowa State (12)   198

 2. Kansas (2)        171

 3. Nebraska          162

 4. Texas (1)         155

 5. Texas Tech (2)    153

 6. Oklahoma          107

 7. Kansas State       94

 8. Colorado           85

 9. Missouri           58

10. Baylor             65

11. Oklahoma State     52

12. Texas A&M          26

(#) indicates first-place votes.

Senior Phylesha Whaley was named to the Women's Basketball Journal (WBJ) Preseason All-American honorable mention team in September. The 5-10 forward has been the leading scorer for the Sooners for the past three years and the top rebounder for the last two seasons. She poured in a career-, school- and Bud Walton Arena-record 40 points against Arkansas in the second round of the 1999 WNIT.

"This is an amazing honor for me," said Whaley. "It's a privilege to be considered in the same field as some of the top players in the nation. I also know if it weren't for my teammates and coaches this wouldn't be possible."

Whaley, who was Head Coach Sherri Coale's first collegiate recruit, currently ranks among the school's all-time best in 17 categories. She became the 14th player in women's basketball history to record 1,000 points. She surpassed that milestone on Nov. 29, 1998, against Coppin State at the Cancun Invitational. She's a three-time All-Big 12 selection and has averaged over 18 points and seven rebounds per game during her career at OU.

"I'm extremely excited for Phylesha," said Coale. "This is a tremendous individual honor as well as a reflection on our team and program at Oklahoma. She has had an outstanding career at OU so far and I expect her senior season to be stellar as well."

Head Coach Sherri Coale signed three very talented freshmen to this year's team: Caton Hill (Ada, Okla.), Jadrea Seeley (Bethel, Okla.) and Emily Britt (Gransbury, Texas).

Hill ended her prep career at Ada High School averaging 24.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She was a two-time MVP of the Bertha Teague Classic and all-state selection.

Seeley, a USA Today All-American selection, became the first player in Oklahoma to score 2,000 points in the five-on-five format. She averaged 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior at Bethel High. Seeley also was a three-time Coaches Association MVP, an Oklahoma Blue-chip selection and Pott County MVP.

Britt joins the Sooners as a two-time All-State selection and Dallas Morning News first teamer.

Also joining the team are walk-ons Kate Scott (Overland Park, Kan.), Stephanie Simon (Clinton, Okla.), Angye Tilley (Bristow, Okla.) and Jamie Mayer (Elk City, Okla.)

Jessica Rhoten (Enid, Okla.), a junior transfer from Oral Roberts University, will redshirt this season.



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