Missouri to test youth in opener

Missouri women begin the basketball season at Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa City.
Friday, November 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:45 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Day one for Missouri women's basketball

The time for tuning up is over. Missouri’s women’s basketball season starts today.

The Tigers open their 31st season today with the first game of the Hawkeye Challenge.

The Tigers face the Northern Illinois at 3 p.m. in Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa and Southern Illinois are also participating in the tournament.

Coach Cindy Stein continues to stress the importance of defense and is always looking for improvements from a team with four new players still learning their routines.

Training to be ready for anything

This week, Stein has been orchestrating different situations the team might face in the tournament and this season.

“We’re working on offenses against all kinds of defenses and a defense against any kind of offense,” Stein said. “Those are the kinds of scenarios we’re trying to put ourselves in, just so that we’re learning what we need to do in each scenario.”

After recording her first unofficial double-double in the exhibition game, Christelle N’Garsanet showed her ability to be a leader, scoring 20 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.

“We knew what Christelle’s capable of doing,” Stein said. “I was surprised at her free throws, but that’s because that’s something that we’ve been really focused on. I think that will get better.”

N’Garsanet’s free throws, along with the team’s, will need to improve. The Tigers shot 9-of-18 from the line in their exhibition game.

Like Missouri, Northern Illinois is a young team. Coach Carol Hammerle’s squad was 12-16 last year. Her two top players this year are 6-foot-1 freshman forward Nikita Odom and 5-6 sophomore guard Stephanie Raymond.

In the Huskies’ most recent exhibition game against St. Xavier, Odom scored 18 points, all in the second half.

Iowa (16-13 last season) and Southern Illinois (3-24 last season) play at 5:30 p.m.

Iowa’s star center, 6-3 senior Jamie Cavey, averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 rebounds last season. The Hawkeyes’ freshman forward Krista VandeVenter, who is also expected to start, won Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year honors as a high school senior.

Southern Illinois coach Dana Eikenberg is starting her first season as the Salukis’ coach. Senior guard Daphney Desamours and senior forward Danette Jones combined for 44 points in the team’s last exhibition game.

The winners and losers of both games will face each other on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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