AUBURN, AL – The Auburn women's basketball team took to the Auburn Arena practice facility Monday afternoon for its first official practice of the 2010-11 season. The Tigers were able to get the early start thanks to new NCAA legislation that allows women's basketball teams to conduct practices beginning 40 days prior to the first game of the season.
"I thought it was good, it was exciting to get started, see everybody out there and start the season," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "They worked hard, the energy was extremely high, we moved from drill to drill quickly and we have a higher IQ this year for the game of basketball."
Auburn went 15-16 (5-11 SEC) a year ago, but returns nine letterwinners and five starters from that team. The Tigers also welcome five newcomers to the team, including Peyton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.), Camille Glymph (Greenville, S.C.), Courtney Strain (Woodland, Ala.), Tyrese Tanner (Birmingham, Ala.) and Jassany Williams (Davie, Fla.).
With the added depth and athleticism, Fortner hopes to turn her Tigers into a fast, up-tempo team.
"We want to push the ball, we want to be very up-tempo and we want to be able to put extreme pressure on people," said Fortner. "The up-tempo part and scoring a lot of points is what we want to do. We have some good depth this year to play a lot of people, so we are going to do that."
Seniors Alli Smalley and Jordan Greenleaf lead the group of nine letterwinners. Smalley led the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game last season while Greenleaf added 7.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Other returning starters are sophomore point guard Morgan Toles (7.6 ppg, 4.4 apg) and junior Parrisha Simmons (3.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Sophomore Blanche Alverson (6.9 ppg) was a part-time starter last season, starting in 13 of 31 games.
Auburn is set to open its season at 5 p.m., Nov. 12 against Mercer in the new Auburn Arena. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Auburn men's team following at 7 p.m. against North Carolina-Asheville.