An Inside Look At The TCU Women's Basketball Program
March 14, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas - The future looks bright for a young and talented women's basketball team entering the Big 12 Conference next season.
With every single player on its current roster except for four-year starter Antoinette Thompson returning, the Horned Frogs will not only have once again one of the youngest rosters in school history, but also one of the most athletic. With the addition of a talented crop of newcomers in shooting guard Kamy Cole, combo guard Veja Hamilton, point guard Zahna Medley and Kansas transfer Donielle Breaux, the program should be in good hands moving forward as it faces arguably the toughest conference in the nation.
The Big 12 sent a total of nine out of its 10 teams to postseason play, including seven programs to the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight year. In all, the Big 12 leads all leagues with 70 percent of its teams in the NCAA Championship and 90 percent in postseason play. Since 2000, the Big 12 has made 83 NCAA Tournament appearances, which is second nationally and is one of just two leagues that has had at least six NCAA appearances each year since 2007.
TCU returns four out of its five starters from this season, including Mountain West Freshman of the Year Natalie Ventress. Ventress, who was also a first team all-conference selection, scored in double-figures in 11 of the 14 conference games this season and was the only freshman in the Mountain West and one of only two players overall to have six games of 20 or more points during conference play. Ventress, who finished the regular season ranked No. 15 amongst all freshman scorers in the NCAA and No. 8 in conference games only, led TCU in scoring 18 times. She closed the season becoming the first freshman to lead TCU in scoring with an average of 13.4 points per game, since Jill Sutton tallied 13.3 for the 1997-98 campaign.
Also returning will be sophomore Latricia Lovings and freshman Ashley Colbert. Both saw significant minutes this season and should be a major force for the Frogs down low in the upcoming years. Lovings, who led TCU in rebounding 12 times this season and ranked No. 1 in the MW in blocks, wrapped-up play this March with a team-leading 68 blocks, which ranks fifth all-time in program history for blocked shots in a single-season. The talented Fort Worth native, who is already No. 3 all-time in career blocked shots, saw her offensive game come alive down the stretch as she scored in double-figures in three games, while also posting 19 games of five or more rebounds. Colbert played a big part in TCU's success down low offensively as her nice touch around the bucket allowed her to tally games of 13 and 16 points against Boise State and NC State, respectively. Probably the biggest improvements in the freshman's game this season came on the defensive end of the court where she rattled opponents into taking bad shots, tallying a game-high five blocks against Boise State in February.
Freshman Chelsea Prince showed signs of being a major contributor for TCU in the next three years as she flashed great athletic ability during the entire season, which helped her rank No. 3 in the Mountain West in steals. The rangy Prince, who was named Mountain West Player of the Week following double-figure scoring games against both Lamar and Houston, recorded back-to-back games down the stretch in which she swiped her opponent six times.
Off the bench, the Frogs return everyone that saw significant minutes. Briesha Wynn, who closed her 2012 campaign recording her first career double-double against Wyoming at the Mountain West Championships, gained more and more confidence as her offensive game flourished this season. She scored in double-figures eight times this year, including a 16-point showing versus San Diego State to open the month of February.
Whitney Williams and Delisa Gross both had solid junior seasons and could play major roles within conference action next season. Both juniors started nearly half of the games for the Frogs this year and both had games in which they were able to contribute significantly on the offensive end of the court. Williams scored 18 against Colorado State, while Gross scored 18 versus Boise State.
Meagan Henson saw significant minutes down the stretch of the 2011-12 season and it paid off as the Oklahoma product was a sparkplug for the Frogs off the bench. Henson, who played over 20 minutes in three of the last five games in regular-season play, posted breakout games against Air Force and New Mexico, scoring 10 and 13 points, respectively.
Overall, for a program that has qualified for the NCAA Tournament nine out of the last 12 years, the 2011-12 season will go down as head coach Jeff Mittie's youngest squad in his 20 years of coaching. The roster featured nine players who were either freshman or sophomores. With all of the new faces, the Frogs were able to record 16 wins, while establishing a key young nucleolus that will play a huge part in TCU's success in the years to come.