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WBB Game Day Central: Duquesne
Broadcast - Tip-Off:
7 p.m. at Duquesne
The Light (90.9 FM WWMC)
Video Streaming Coverage:
Liberty will tip off its 38th season of women's basketball Friday, when the Lady Flames head to Pittsburgh, Pa., for a Preseason WNIT first-round contest at Duquesne. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the A.J. Palumbo Center for a battle between a pair of 20-win teams from 2011-12. Friday's winner will advance to face either Davidson or North Carolina in the second round on Sunday.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Both Liberty and Duquesne will attempt to win a Preseason WNIT first-round game for the first time. The Lady Flames are winless in three previous first-round tilts, while the Dukes are making their tournament debut.
2) Expectations are high for Liberty and Duquesne entering the season. The Lady Flames are picked to win the Big South Conference title for the 15th time in 16 years. Meanwhile, the Dukes are tabbed to place fourth in the newly-expanded Atlantic 10 Conference.
3) Friday's game tips off a challenging opening month of Liberty's season. The stretch is highlighted by back-to-back games against the last two national champions, Texas A&M (Nov. 20) and Baylor (Nov. 23).
4) This will be Liberty's first game in Pennsylvania since a 90-55 win at Lafayette on Nov. 28, 2009. LaKendra Washington scored a career-high 21 points that day.
5) Liberty will look to open its year with a road win for the second straight season. The Lady Flames won 61-46 at UNC Greensboro in the 2011-12 lid-lifter.
Series Record: First meeting
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 310-103 (14th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Duquesne: 0-0
Record in the Preseason WNIT: 1-4 (Three Appearances)
Duquesne Head Coach: Suzie McConnell-Serio
Overall Record (Seasons): 99-60 (Sixth Season)
Record at Duquesne (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Liberty: 0-0
Record in the Preseason WNIT: 0-0
Notes and Anecdotes
• Both Liberty and Duquesne are seeking their first victory in a Preseason WNIT first-round game. The Lady Flames are 0-3 all-time in the opening round, while the Dukes are making their tournament debut.
• Duquesne was picked fourth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll. Junior Wumi Agunbiade is a preseason first team all-conference honoree, while classmate Orsi Szecsi was named to the second team. Senior Jocelyn Floyd, who ranked sixth nationally with 3.8 steals per game in 2011-12, was named to the preseason All-Defensive Team.
• Duquesne is one of two first-time opponents on Liberty's 2012-13 season schedule, along with UNC Wilmington.
• Liberty will face two Atlantic 10 Conference opponents this season, as the Lady Flames are also slated to travel to conference newcomer VCU on Dec. 20.
• Friday's game will be the Lady Flames' first contest in Pennsylvania since Nov. 28, 2009. That day, LaKendra Washington's career-high 21 points highlighted a 90-55 win at Lafayette in Easton, Pa.
• Liberty assistant coach Andy Bloodworth spent three years in Pennsylvania (Erie), serving as an assistant for the Gannon women's basketball team in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05.
• Friday's contest is something of a homecoming for Liberty redshirt freshman forward/center Ashley Rininger, who is poised to make her collegiate debut at Duquesne. Rininger attended GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, located about 95 miles northwest of the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Liberty in the Preseason WNIT
Liberty has made three previous appearances in the Preseason WNIT, going 1-4 overall. Here is a quick glance at the Lady Flames' tournament history.
1999: Lost 60-45 at Virginia Tech in the first round (Nov. 15, 1999)
Note: It was Carey Green's first game as Liberty's head coach.
2003: Lost 73-62 at Cincinnati in the first round (Nov. 14, 2003)
2008: Lost 59-57 at home to VCU in the first round (Nov. 14, 2008)
Beat UC Riverside 45-44 in a consolation game (Nov. 21, 2008 at W. Carolina)
Notes: Megan Frazee made a game-winning layup at the buzzer. This game also marked Brittany Campbell's first collegiate appearance.
Lost 73-53 at Western Carolina in a consolation game (Nov. 22, 2008)
Liberty vs. the Atlantic 10 Conference
Record vs. Current Conference Members: 17-47
Carey Green's Record vs. Current Conference Members: 10-11
Current Streak: Liberty has lost its last three games against Atlantic 10 opponents.
Last Meeting: Richmond 66, Liberty 54 (Dec. 20, 2011 at Richmond)
Liberty's Last Victory: Liberty 73, La Salle 53 (Dec. 29, 2010 at Maryland)
Liberty in Season Openers
All-Time Record in Season Openers: 19-18
Record Breakdown: 14-5 (Home), 5-8 (Road), 0-5 (Neutral)
Carey Green's Record in Season Openers: 7-6
Record Breakdown: 5-1 (Home), 2-3 (Road), 0-2 (Neutral)
Current Streak: Liberty won its season opener in 2011-12.
Last Year's Season Opener: Liberty 61, UNC Greensboro 46 (Nov. 11, 2011 at UNCG)
Liberty's Last Loss in a Season Opener: Creighton 40, Liberty 35 (Nov. 12, 2010)
Note: During Carey Green's first 13 seasons as Liberty's head coach, the Lady Flames have only won two season openers away from the Vines Center. Both victories came at UNC Greensboro, in the 2007-08 and 2011-12 lid-lifters.
Another Note: Devon Brown is averaging 23.0 ppg during her two career season openers. However, she missed the 2010-11 opener due to injury and Liberty scored just 35 points in a loss to Creighton.
Liberty will only play one home game during the first four weeks of the 2012-13 season. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames will face some tough opponents away from the Vines Center.
• The Lady Flames will tip off the season with three or four games in the Preseason WNIT, beginning with a Nov. 9 contest at 2012 Postseason WNIT qualifier Duquesne. All of the games will be played away from the Vines Center.
• Liberty will play back-to-back games against the last two national champions, traveling to Texas A&M on Nov. 20 and Baylor on Nov. 23. The Lady Flames will be the first team since the 2009-10 Stanford Cardinal to face the previous two years' national champions in consecutive games.
• Liberty will play its Big South Conference opener Dec. 1 at Radford, before traveling to 2012 Postseason WNIT runner-up James Madison three days later.
Six Lady Flames could make their collegiate debuts Friday at Duquesne, including redshirt freshmen Katelyn Adams and Ashley Rininger and true freshmen Jessi Edmonds, Sadalia Ellis, Jaymee Fisher-Davis and Julia Winn. Two current Lady Flames enjoyed stellar debut performances.
• Devon Brown totaled 26 points and seven rebounds in a 71-26 home win over Winston-Salem State on Nov. 13, 2009.
• Last season, Reagan Miller contributed 17 points to Liberty's 61-46 victory at UNC Greensboro on Nov. 11, 2011.
Help is on the Way
As the only healthy point guard on Liberty's 2011-12 roster, then-freshman Reagan Miller logged a school-record 1,086 minutes of playing time, averaging 32.9 minutes per contest. This season, she will have considerably more assistance at the floor general position, in the form of two fellow Texas natives.
• Emily Frazier will return to action, after missing the entire 2011-12 campaign due to injury. The redshirt sophomore made 30 starts at point guard in 2010-11, earning a spot on the Big South All-Freshman Team.
• Freshman Sadalia Ellis is also expected to battle for playing time. She played point guard at Cypress Falls High School in the Houston area for three seasons, helping her team go 103-10 during that time and earning a pair of all-state accolades.
Big Shoes to Fill
Avery Warley graduated from last year's team after a sterling four-year career with the Lady Flames. She is the all-time leading rebounder in program and Big South Conference history (1,282 rebounds) and played with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season. Fortunately, Liberty has five players 6-2 or taller on this year's roster who will collectively try to fill the void left by Warley's departure.
• Additionally, the 5-10 Devon Brown should be able to help pick up the rebounding slack. She ranks No. 9 in program history with 596 career boards.
Happy Birthday to You!
Two Lady Flames will celebrate birthdays during the Preseason WNIT. Devon Brown turns 23 on Monday (Nov. 12) and Emily Frazier will be 22 years old the following day (Nov. 13).
Is it Time for Basketball Already?
Friday's game will mark the earliest season opener in Liberty women's basketball history. Before this year, the earliest a Lady Flames squad had ever tipped off a season was Nov. 11, in both 2006-07 and 2011-12.
The 2012-13 season will be Liberty's sixth consecutive year with the same head coach (Carey Green) and trio of assistant coaches (Alexis Sherard, Heather Stephens and Andy Bloodworth). The Lady Flames join Iowa and Montana as the only four-member NCAA Division I women's basketball coaching staffs which have remained intact since the start of the 2007-08 campaign.