Frogs jonesing for fourth C-USA title
fourth consecutive Conference USA championship is on the
line tonight in Houston.
Lady Frogs have played many big games during the Jeff
Mittie era, but only a handful compare to the magnitude
of tonights battle in Houston.
A win at Hofheinz Pavilion would give the Lady Frogs a
split against No. 14 Houston (23-3, 12-1 C-USA) and, more
importantly, a share of the Conference USA championship
with the Lady Cougars.
Also on the line tonight for the No. 15 Lady Frogs (22-4,
11-2 C-USA) is the opportunity to end the regular season
with confidence and a victory heading into next weekends
C-USA Tournament at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
This game is really important for us, junior
forward Sandora Irvin said. I want another ring.
We have to come out of there with a win because it would
be real nice to win conference four times in a row.
In order to get that ring, the Lady Frogs must contain
Houstons Chandi Jones better than they did in the
teams first meeting this season. The senior guard led
the Lady Cougars to a 61-59 win with 32 points on 13-of-20
field goals Jan. 18.
Senior guard Ebony Shaw will draw the task of defending
Jones, a Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year
finalist who leads C-USA in scoring at 21.8 points a game.
Guarding Jones is nothing new for Shaw, however, as the
two have been competing against each other the past four
This isnt my first time, Shaw said.
I have to go against her every year so I know what
to expect. Shes one of those top caliber players.
I give her all the credit, she makes all the tough shots
and is one of the best Ive ever faced.
Thats quite a compliment to Jones, considering Shaw
has squared up against Connecticuts Diana Taurasi,
the 2003 Naismith National Player of the Year, and Dukes
Alana Beard, a 2003 Victor Award winner as the National
Player of the Year.
Mittie, whose in his fifth year as the Lady Frogs
head coach, said Shaw wont be the only player responsible
for defending Jones.
It will be important to mix up who we have on her
because it shouldnt fall on any one player,
Mittie said. But Ebony will certainly be a part
of that as she always has. Shes as familiar with
Jones as anyone else in the league.
Shaw said she isnt too worried about keeping Jones
off the scoreboard because the leading Lady Cougar is
going to get her points one way or another. Instead, Shaw
said she wants to limit the number of quality looks Jones
Shes going to get a lot of shot attempts,
she said. I just have to limit her touches, keep
her from catching the ball. I want to make her take tough
shots and deny her the ball. If she doesnt have
the ball, she cant make any hoops.
Mittie said Jones will get her usual number of shots no
matter what but that the Lady Frogs must make her work
to get easy looks.
We want to force her into some tough shots,
he said. She is going to score, but we have to make
her work a lot harder than she did in the first game.
The main thing is that she doesnt get any open looks
to get herself going. Weve had success against her
when we have done that in the past.
Mittie said he doesnt want his team to make the
mistake of focusing too hard on Jones, which allows easy
opportunities for the other talented Lady Cougars, in
particular Sancho Lyttle, who scored 30 points and grabbed
15 rebounds against DePaul last weekend.
Our overall defensive goal is to stop Houston, not
just Chandi Jones, he said. Teams that dont
do that get hurt by her and Sancho.
Irvin said the team feels like it let a victory slip away
the last time it faced Houston and its anxious for
A lot of that game was our fault, Irvin said.
We just have to play harder offensively, execute
more and have fewer turnovers and everything should go
The Lady Frogs committed 25 turnovers in the last meeting,
but Mittie said his backcourt has played better since
that game. In fact, the team has averaged a modest 19
turnovers the last three games.
I think we are playing better basketball right now
than we were back then, Mittie said. I also
think we have matured throughout the year and improved
our ball control in the last two weeks.
Irvin understands the importance of this particular contest
for the basketball program.
Its all about the (NCAA Tournament),
she said. If we win, this time we will have a better
seed, so we wont have to play a (Connecticut) in
the second round. We just have to go out there and bring
home a win.
guard Ebony Shaw (left) will have a chance to beat
Houston tonight, but shell have to get past
Cougar standout Chandi Jones (right).