The Lady Rebels 22 2005-06 UNLV Women¢â‚¬â„¢s Basketball Media Guide UNLV ¢â‚¬¢ FIVE STRAIGHT POSTSEASON APPEARANCES

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    2005-06 UNLV Women’s Basketball Media Guide2005-06 UNLV Women’s Basketball Media Guide2005-06 UNLV Women’s Basketball Media Guide2005-06 UNLV Women’s Basketball Media Guide2005-06 UNLV Women’s Basketball Media Guide 2121212121

    The Lady Rebels

    In This SECTION • 2005-06 Lady Rebel Outlook ............ 22-23 • 2005-06 UNLV Roster ...................... 24-25 • Head Coach Regina Miller ................. 26-28 • Coaching Staff ................................... 29-30 • Support Staff ..................................... 31-32 • TV/Radio chart ........................................ 33 • Player Profiles .................................... 34-58 • Lady Rebels on the Road ......................... 59

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    Sherry McCracklin was the 2003-04 MWC Defensive Player of the Year after finishing in the

    top three in rebounding, blocks and steals.

    If there is one word that could best describe the upcoming season for the Lady Rebels, Redemption would probably be it. UNLV came into last year with very high preseason expectations, both from themselves and from the rest of the basketball world as they were picked to be among the nation’s top 25 programs, as well as favored to win their first Mountain West Conference title.

    However, the team’s hopes quickly took a downhill turn weeks before the season started, when senior forward and preseason All-America candidate Sherry McCracklin suffered a tear in her Achillies, and was lost for the season. McCracklin’s injury was just the first of several to come, as the Lady Rebels were decimated for the first six weeks of the season. At one point four starters were all out of action.

    Though UNLV would extend its postseason streak to five years with a season-ending trip to the WNIT, it was a disappointing end that left the team wondering what might have been possible if not for the run of injuries. There was one positive from the year however, as players that might not have seen as much time were suddenly thrust into starting roles, and they not only flourished in those roles, but several of them developed into some of the best players in the MWC. With the experience they gained last year, and with the return of four starters, the Lady Rebels go into 2005-06 as possibly the deepest and most experienced team in the conference.

    In fact, UNLV actually brings back five starters, as McCracklin received a medical redshirt and will return for her senior year to once again strike fear into her Lady Rebels opponents on the defensive side of the court. In her last season, McCracklin was one of the biggest keys to UNLV’s 16-2 start in 2003-04, leading the nation in rebounding for the first two months of the year and earning MWC Defender of the Year honors after finishing in the top three in rebounding (9.7 rpg) as well as steals and blocks. She was also a WBCA/Kodak Honorable Mention All- American selection after finishing fifth in the MWC in scoring (12.9 ppg).

    Though McCracklin is one of the strongest players in the conference who can be counted on to convert a layup or draw a foul in the paint, one of her biggest advantages on offense is her ability as a post player in running the fast break, as she would rountinely catch passes in transition and convert the layup before the defenders could catch up. The rest of the Lady Rebels are just as dangerous on the break if not more, and that all leads into eighth-year head coach Regina Miller’s philosphy on offense. “We’ve always been an up-tempo team in the past, and that is not going to change this year, we will push the ball offensively every chance we get, and we will put pressure on the ball all over the court,” said Miller. “The athleticism of our five newcomers could make this the deepest team we’ve had in my eight years here, but our success this year will depend on our defense. Our post defense suffered last year with the loss of Sherry, but we addressed that problem in the offseason by recruiting four post players, and with the return of Sherry to the team that should be greatly improved for this upcoming year. If we can improve our

    post defense, and cut down on our unforced turnovers, then I see the potential for a very successful season.”

    As mentioned before, UNLV brings back four starters from last season, and including McCracklin, the Lady Rebels could feature a startling lineup with four seniors. If McCracklin is the key to the Lady Rebels’ defense, then senior guard Sheena Moore is without a doubt the key on offense. One of the most explosive scorers on the West Coast, Moore led the team in scoring last year despite having made the move to running the point after playing at the two-guard her first two years at UNLV. A deadly shooter from outside (33.3%, and fourth in the MWC in three- pointers per game), she was always a threat to rip the nets from downtown or drive into the paint for a layup, but improved each game in setting up her teammates on offense, finishing sixth in assists in the league with 3.65 per game, and fourth in scoring (14.6 ppg).

    The third senior is forward Nikki Hitchens, who has started the last two years in Las Vegas after playing her first year at Texas-Pan American. Despite missing the first month of last year with a MCL injury, Hitchens started 24 games at small forward and was one of the team’s most consistent scorers, averaging 8.3 points per game while adding a career-high 4.9 rebounds per contest. Her biggest improvement was on the offensive side and her choice of shots as she took advantage of her slashing ability to look for more shots in the paint and led the team in field goal percentage, shooting 48.2 percent.

    Off-guard Brittney Thomas is the fourth returning senior starter, and she moved into the starting role midway through the conference season last year in her first year at UNLV. She averaged just two points a game through the first eight contests, but exploded in conference games with her three-point shooting and finished with an 8.2 ppg average while helping the Lady Rebels to key wins over New Mexico and a MWC tournament game over Wyoming.

    Las Vegas native Sequoia Holmes, one of the most athletic players in the conference, broke into the starting lineup to help fill the void in the post, and never let go of her starting role while finishing fourth on the team in scoring (8.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.0 rpg). As a freshman she led the team in blocks while also finishing among the league leaders in steals, rebounds and scoring on the way to earning All-MWC Honorable Mention. Her ability to play almost anywhere on the court (two, three, or four spots) is a big advantage to the Lady Rebels as she’s one of the top defenders in the league with rebounding and blocking ability, while she also has the quickness and agility to be matched up defensively with opposing point guards. While Holmes and Hitchens could both vie for the starting role at the three spot, they won’t be the only Lady Rebels with a chance to move into the lineup this season. Though junior Kameca Simmons saw time as Moore’s backup at the point last year, she will also see time at small forward and just like Hitchens is very good as slashing towards the basket, and also improved on both her defense and her rebounding last season.

    2005-06 outlook

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    state tournament appearance in 23 years while setting new school records in points (26.5 ppg), rebounds (12.1 rpg) and blocks (5.1 bpg). The final freshman is point guard Brittany Halberg. A 5-7 native of Lake Oswego, Ore., Halberg helped Lakeridge High to four straight top-four finishes, and was named honorable mention all-state after posting 10 points, 5.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

    Once again the Lady Rebels will take on a challenging schedule with several nationally promient teams on the slate, beginning with the very first tournament of the year. The team will also get the chance to prove itself early with five of its first 11 games on the road. “We’re excited about our schedule this season. With five of our 11 non-conference games away from Las Vegas, we’ll have a chance early in the season to prove that we are capable of being successful on the road,” said Miller. “I’m really upbeat about this year’s schedule, and playing as many as 11 games against teams that were in the postseason last year should definitely help us in our bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.”

    UNL