November 19, 2014

Up next: The Texas Longhorns

It's not going to get much easier for the Cardinal this week. The Texas Longhorns come to Maples on Thursday at 6:00 pm.

The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network, with Ros Gold-Onwude as the color analyst. KZSU will broadcast the game, and live stats will be here.

This will be the fourth meeting of the Cardinal and the Longhorns in the past four years. The Cardinal won the prior three games, but they were all tough defensive contests.

Amber snags a loose ball in Austin last season

The Longhorns finished third in the Big 12 last season behind Baylor and West Virginia. They went to the NCAAs, where they lost to Maryland in the second round. They're expected to be better this season.

Mechelle Voepel (espnW) says, "The Longhorns have subtly been on the rise since Karen Aston took over as coach in 2012, and this could be the season when the dividends of the rebuild begin to pay off. "

Others share that opinion. The Longhorns began the season ranked #9/12 in the national polls and they were selected as the favorite to win the 2014-15 Big 12 regular season title in a preseason vote of the league's head coaches.

If you want to hear more about the Longhorns' expectations for this season, watch coach Aston's preseason press conference.

The Longhorns are returning 82 percent of their scoring and 82 percent of their minutes played from last season's squad. They lost their three-season leading scorer (guard Chassidy Fussell) to graduation. They've also lost junior center Imani McGee-Stafford for an indefinite period — she had surgery in September to reinforce the tibia in her left leg.

They've added four freshmen – Aston's first recruiting class – which was ranked as #11 by espnW HoopGurlz. With added depth in the guard position, coach Aston expects that the Longhorns will change their style a bit and run more.

Coach Aston and her staff haven't settled on a starting lineup yet. These are three returning starters, an important post player and the most promising freshman:

  • #3, 6'1" senior forward Nneka Enemkpali enters her senior year as an All-American candidate with a level of athleticism rarely seen in the women’s game. She led UT in total points the last two seasons and averaged a team-best 8.6 rebounds per game last season. ESPN has selected her as #21 of their Top-25 Players of the Year: "The last two seasons, Enemkpali has made steady progress, and this year should be her best yet. "

  • #32, 5'11" junior guard Brady Sanders played an average of 25 minutes per game last season (second on the team) and started 28 of 34 games. She averaged 7.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. She was second to Chassidy Fussell in perimeter shooting. She took just under half her shots from beyond the arc and made 37.5% of them.

  • #2, 5'8" junior guard Celina Rodrigo runs the point for the Longhorns. She started 24 of their last 25 games last season. She led the team in assists (3.7 per game) and had a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. She also tallied 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

  • #40, 6'5" sophomore center Kelsey Lang averaged 5.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in her freshman season. Coach Aston reports that Kelsey trained hard in the summer and fall and is leaner, stronger, and runs the floor better. With McGee-Stafford absent, Kelsey will be the Longhorns' major front-court player. She was the Longhorns' leading scorer (12 points) in their first game this season and also tallied six rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

  • #24, 5'11" freshman guard Ariel Atkins was the Texas High School Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American and was selected as the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She started in the Longhorns' first game of the season and played the most minutes (27). Although she makes freshman mistakes, coach Alston thinks that she's capable of being a game changer.
Here is coach Aston talking about the upcoming game against Stanford:

Here are the Longhorns' roster and 2013-14 statistics.

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