Women's Basketball Team Opens Practice in Preparation for 2008-09 Campaign

Oct. 17, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Without the fanfare of midnight madness, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will begin preparation for the 2008-09 season with its first regular practice of the year at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.

However, what is something that should be receiving plenty of fanfare is that it will be new head coach Lindsay Gottlieb's first-ever practice at UCSB and her first-ever as a head coach.

"This time of year always brings a level of excitement for coaches," Gottlieb said. "For me, in particular, this year I can't fully articulate how excited I am."

The Gauchos, who will open their exhibition schedule at the Thunderdome on Nov. 5 vs. Westmont and will open the regular season at home vs. San Diego on Nov. 16, will begin practice with an extremely large squad - 16 total players.

Gottlieb can also draw excitement from the fact that she is inheriting a team that finished 23-8 last season and made its 13th consecutive postseason appearance.

"I'm looking forward to the chance to be on the court with this team every day," Gottlieb said. "They are disciplined and hard-working and it will be my challenge to help them achieve all they want to achieve and more."

The Gauchos' top returnee is someone very familiar to UCSB fans - Jenna Green. A two-time All-Big West First Team selection, Green returns after a missing last season due to a medical redshirt. Already a member of the 1,000-point club, Green has averaged 12.1 points per game in her Gaucho career.

Also returning is senior Kat Suderman, who was a First-Team All-Big West selection last season after averaging10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, both tops among all returners who played last season.

The guard position will certainly be in good hands this season as both Sha'Rae Gibbons and Lauren Pedersen return to the backcourt for their senior seasons. Gibbons dished out a team-high 107 assists last season while Pedersen had 106, both obviously capable of getting the ball into the post and the hands of Green and Suderman.

Helping them in the backcourt will be senior Whitney Warren, who was named the Big West's Defensive Player of the Year last season, as well as Meagan Williams, who averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds a season ago.

Highly anticipated guard Chris Spencer also enters the mix after transferring from Wisconsin last season. Spencer won't be available to play until early December because of transfer rules, but will certainly see some action in her first season at UCSB.

Ariana Gnekow enters her junior season, Courtney Collishaw will see her first action as a Gaucho after redshirting last season and freshman Emilie Johnson helps round out the backcourt.

Ashlee Brown, named the Big West's Sixth Woman of the Year last season after taking home Freshman of the Year honors in her rookie campaign will definitely see some action in the post alongside Suderman and Green. Joining Brown, who averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds last season, down low will be center Jessie Goble and freshman Megan Kristcher.

At the forward spots features Jordan Franey, who enters her junior season after being named the Big West's Freshman of the Year two seasons ago. Franey averaged 3.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per season last year. Margaret Johnson, who played in 25 games a year ago, also enters her sophomore season.

Both the men's and women's teams will be introduced to the media and public at the first annual UCSB Basketball Media Preview Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion in Santa Barbara. Coaches and players from both teams will be on hand for press conferences, as well as a meet and greet period. Appetizers will be served and there is no charge. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP by calling Laura Shepard at 805-893-8613 or via email at Laura.Shepard@athletics.ucsb.edu.

Gaucho basketball season tickets are available via walk-up at the Athletics Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, or by calling the Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB and selecting option 2. Information can be obtained online by going here.