KNOXVILLE, Tenn. The 2006 State Farm Tip-Off Classic is a preview of the 2006-07 women’s collegiate basketball campaign. The Classic will be a mixture of powerhouse schools from three different conferences. Georgia, DePaul, Rutgers and Oklahoma will take the court at this year’s Tip-Off Classic, an event that annually features four of the nation’s top women’s collegiate basketball squads in a season-opening doubleheader.
The University of Georgia will play Rutgers University in a 1:00 p.m. EST (12:00 noon CST) game while the University of Oklahoma will square off against DePaul University in a 3:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. CST) match up on Sunday, November 12, at the Lloyd Noble Center on the Oklahoma campus in Norman. Both games will be televised on ESPN2.
This will be the 14th annual Tip-Off Classic. Last year’s event was held in Lubbock, Texas at the United Spirit Arena. Louisiana State University (LSU) took the edge over Texas Tech and won 76-68. LSU did advance to the Final Four. The defending national champs, Baylor also defeated Georgia 84-72 in the Classic.
State Farm became involved in the Tip-Off Classic as part of an overall women’s support strategy the company started back in the early 90s. State Farm also has a strong presence in women’s basketball throughout the season.
The Oklahoma Sooners will be a team to watch with upcoming sophomore Courtney Paris playing on their team. Oklahoma ended the season with a 31-5 record, after finishing in the sweet sixteen semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Sherri Coale was elected Vice President of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and she will become President of the WBCA in one year when Doug Bruno finished his term. With Coale leading the team, the Sooners have won an impressive 145 games in the past five years.
Georgia will play back-to-back years in the Tip-Off Classic after having a 23-9 record last year. The Lady Bulldogs played in the Bridgeport Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, but lost to the No. 7 Connecticut Huskies. Georgia ranks number 4 in the All-Time Associated Press women’s basketball poll. This is just one reason that coach Andy Landers has been awarded a four-year contract extension, which will keep the record-setting coach in Athens through the 2011 season.
DePaul compiled a 27-7 record last season. They lost to No. 5 LSU (56-66) in the NCAA Regional Semifinals last year. Doug Bruno has led the team for 19 seasons. He is currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado as head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s U18 team. They are preparing for the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women.
Rutgers star from last year, Cappie Pondexter has moved on to the WNBA, but that should not hold the team back from a successful season. The Rutgers 2006-2007 recruiting class has been ranked third nationally by Hoopgurlz.com. Rutgers finished the season last year with a record of 27-5, and they were ranked 9th in the USA Today/ESPN top 25 poll. The team is led by Vivian Stringer, who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. She is the first men or women’s basketball coach to take three different schools to the Final Four (Cheyney University in 1982, the University of Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers in 2000).
The Tip-Off Classic benefits the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Hall of Fame’s mission is to “honor the past, celebrate the present, and promote the future” of women’s basketball. The Hall also uses the Tip-Off Classic as a platform to announce a new group of inductees each year with the Class of 2007 honorees slated to be introduced in Oklahoma.