Three-time MWC Player of the Year Kim Smith leads Utah into its season-opener Saturday.
Nov. 15, 2005
University of Utah (0-0) vs. Jacksonville State (0-0)
3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005 - Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000)
Audio Video: Listen/Watch at www.UtahUtes.com
Utah Hosts Gamecocks in Season-Opener
The University of Utah women's basketball team opens its 2005-06 campaign Saturday, hosting the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks. Utah is coming off a 26-8 season. The Utes won a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The squad returns all but one player from last season, including Co-MWC Players of the Year Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn. The Utes begin the season ranked No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25.
Utah handily won both of its exhibition contests this preseason. The Utes defeated Montana-Western by a tally of 86-57 and then scored a 92-71 victory over Baden Sports. Smith averaged 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in the two preseason victories, while Heidi Carlsen (12.5) and Shona Thorburn (11.5) also averaged double-figure scoring. Thorburn averaged 9.0 rebounds in the two exhibitions.
Jacksonville State also has four returning starters coming back to a squad that was 15-14 one season ago. The Gamecocks enter Saturday's game coming off a matchup with Utah Valley State College on Friday night.
Free Talks Before and After Game
Join Utah head coach Elaine Elliott, players and assistant coaches on the floor for a post-game discussion of the game. A pre-game "chalk talk" is also available for groups who are interested. For more information, call 801-585-9211.
Only five NCAA Division I women's basketball teams averaged fewer turnovers than the University of Utah last season. The Utes finished No. 6 in the nation in turnovers per game last season, averaging just 13.6 per contest.
Through two exhibitions this season, Utah has turned the ball over an average of 20 times per game. However, the Utes are only averaging 7.0 turnovers in the first half of the two exhibitions, when the veterans and regulars have been in the lineup on a more consistent basis.
From Way Downtown
The Utes were one of the more prolific three-point shooting teams in the nation last year. The squad made nearly seven (6.9) treys per game, ranking No. 15 in the nation in three-pointers made per game. That number was also good enough to rank second in the MWC, just behind Wyoming's mark of 7.14 per contest.
Utah made at least five shots from behind the arc in 27 of its 34 games last season. The Utes also had seven games with double-digit three-pointers, including a record-setting 15 against TCU. The 15 treys against the Lady Frogs set a Utah single-game record, as well as a Huntsman Center record. For the second consecutive year, Utah also led the MWC in three-point field-goal percentage. Utah converted at a rate of .363 from beyond the arc last season.
In two exhibitions this season, Utah shot .489 from three-point range and averaged 11.5 treys a game.
No. 4 Looking for One More to Make Four
Senior Kim Smith begins the 2005-06 campaign as the three-time reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. She'll be looking to win an unprecedented four MWC Player of the Year awards this season.
Smith averaged 17.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season, leading the MWC in both categories. In addition, the Mission, B.C. native also led the league in defensive rebounds (6.03), ranked second in the loop in free-throw percentage (.840), third in offensive boards (2.85) and fifth in three-point percentage (.374).
Sho Giveth, Sho Taketh Away
Moving to point guard from the off-guard position agreed with senior Shona Thorburn last season. Thorburn shared MWC Player of the Year honors with teammate Kim Smith. Not only did she rank in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding in the conference, she was also the league leader in assists and ranked No. 4 in steals.
Thorburn dropped 6.50 dimes per game last season, easily besting New Mexico's Mandi Moore, who recorded 5.17 assists per contest. Thorburn picked opponents' pockets an average of 2.0 times per contest in 2004-05. In her two exhibition outings this fall, she averaged 9.0 assists and 3.0 steals a game.