Young Missouri women's basketball team debuts at Mizzou Madness

Friday, October 12, 2012 | 10:43 p.m. CDT; updated 5:14 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 13, 2012
MU guard Kyley Simmons enters Mizzou Arena through smoke and lasers before the women's scrimmage at Mizzou Madness on Friday.

COLUMBIA — For the first press conference of the 2012-13 season, Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton wanted to bring one of her veterans to face the media. 

She chose Morgan Eye, a sophomore.

Eye is one of the more seasoned players on a Mizzou squad where 12-of-13 players have been at Missouri for one year or less. Seven of them, including six freshmen, are in their first year with the team. 

The newcomers had their first opportunity to play in front of their fans on Friday as part of this year's Mizzou Madness event. It was the first time the women's team took part in the event. The players scrimmaged for ten minutes and then participated in a mixed skills competitions with the men's team. 

Pingeton said that this is undoubtedly the youngest team she's coached in her 17-year coaching career. 

"I don't know that there's a team out there that's younger than we are," Pingeton said. "We have very high expectations for this season, but it's also really exciting to think about where this program's going to be two or three years down the road." 

In the meantime, she's looking to players like Eye and senior guard Sydney Crafton for leadership.

"I've been here four years, so it's just kind of like a natural thing," Crafton said. "When they get here and no one knows what they're doing, they look to the person who does." 

Eye, who averaged 26 minutes-per-game last season, has also been offering encouragement to the freshmen.

"(I tell them) they're going to make mistakes. I'm still going to make mistakes as a sophomore, I just no longer have that excuse that I'm a freshman, so I can't use that anymore,"  Eye said.

The team now has two weeks of practice under its belt, and Pingeton expressed satisfaction with the improvement she sees on a daily basis. While she has yet to determine any lineups or rotations, she thinks every player will see game action. 

"I don't think there's one kid out there that we don't plan on contributing in one way or another," Pingeton said. "Minutes are still yet to be determined."

Pingeton has until October 30 to decide, when Missouri tips off its first exhibition game against Lincoln.

Despite all of the new faces, Pingeton, who begins her third year as head coach at Mizzou, is confident her team can improve on last season's 2-16 Big 12 conference record.

"I think our depth is so much better than it was a year ago," she said. "I still think there's a lot of unknowns in regards to lineups and rotations and whatnot, but I think we have a lot of options and it's going to be very competitive." 

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