Junior guard LaToya Bond has said the Missouri women’s basketball team wants to be undefeated in its new home this season.
The first step comes tonight.
The Tigers play their first game in Paige Sports Arena in an exhibition against Central Missouri State at 7.
Fans can catch a first glimpse at what the team’s newcomers might bring this season.
One of the new players to watch is freshman guard Kassie Drew, who finished her high school career at Anna-Jonesboro High School as the fourth-highest scorer in Illinois high school basketball history.
The Central Missouri State Jennies finished at 15-13 last season, sixth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The team’s new coach, Dave Slifer, came to the team in April from Missouri Western State College.
Slifer, who has a 15-year career record of 383-99, will look to return Central Missouri State to the glory days of the 1980s, when the Jennies won seven of eight MIAA postseason tournaments from 1982-1991.
Slifer said his team has been so busy working on other preparations that they haven’t had time to look too closely at Missouri. He said he will use the exhibition game to gauge where the Jennies are in their goal of qualifying for MIAA regionals this season.
“We definitely won’t come up against anyone as big as Missouri,” Slifer said.
The Jennies enter the 2004-05 season without Jena Shackelford, last season’s top scorer with 14 points a game.
Shackelford ended the season ranked second in three-point percentage in the MIAA, hitting 41 percent.
Central Missouri State might be leaning instead on Bethany Orendorff, a 6-foot senior forward who was the Jennies’ second-leading scorer last season with an 11.8 average.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein said exhibition games are good for tinkering with lineups and giving players experience.
“You see kind of how your kids react to the public, to other people watching them, how they handle stress from that aspect,” she said. “But it also tells kind of where we are, and you still have another week to make some changes.”
Senior center Megan Roney said the exhibition game will allow the team its first opportunity to test team chemistry.
“It will help us see what we’re doing wrong, so the next couple practices we’ll be able to work out the kinks,” Roney said.