ETSU gears up for first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance
Friday, March 21, 2008

DES MOINES, IOWA (Mar. 21, 2008) - The ETSU women's basketball team enters unfamiliar ground this weekend when they take on Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday evening inside Wells Fargo Arena at 7:12 p.m. CST.


The Lady Bucs - who have won a program-tying 21 wins and enter tomorrow's match-up on an eight-game win streak - will make their first ever tip in an NCAA Tournament live on ESPN2. Fans in the Tri-Cities area can also listen to all the action on WKPT-AM 1590 and its translator 97.7 or 97.9 FM in Johnson City, WKTP-AM 1400 and its translator 94.3 FM in Kingsport and WOPI-AM 1490 in Bristol. Additionally, WOPI's FM translator 97.7 will also air ETSU games. The game will also be carried live online by clicking the link above.


Since winning the Atlantic Sun Tournament and cutting down the nets in Nashville, almost two weeks ago, the ETSU women have been enjoying the fun as its season has been extended. However, with the team arriving in Iowa, the Lady Bucs know it is time for business and Oklahoma State will not be an easy test.


"They are a good team and can run the ball," mentioned senior post Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) as she faced the media on Friday. "We need to make sure to get back, stop them in transition and be strong inside to relieve our guards."


With this being ETSU's first trip to the Big Dance, the team is soaking everything in and enjoying the experience. The run was a little bumpy during the season, but all the hard work by the players, coaches and staff has made this a rewarding effort.


"We are really excited to be here, this team has worked extremely hard to get to this point," mentioned head coach Karen Kemp, who was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year earlier this month. "We are not content to be here and want to go out and be competitive tomorrow night."


Standing 3-7 after its first 10 games, ETSU quickly turned the season around by closing out the last 22 games with an 18-4 mark. During the run, the Lady Bucs knocked off Alabama, won 15 of their last 16 games and currently are on an eight-game winning streak, which ties a school record.


Even though the players put in the effort on the court, the ETSU coaching staff has done a tremendous job keeping the team focused on reaching its goal of winning the conference crown and making the NCAA Tournament.


"Coach Kemp has done a really great job in preparing us during this run," added Norman. "She won the Atlantic Sun COTY award, which was really exciting for us. The whole staff has done a really good job this season."


"For the past week Coach Kemp has kept us focused and geared us up for Oklahoma State," commented senior guard Nichelle Akers (Sumter, S.C.) on Friday. "We have been doing a lot of the same things in practice and are trying to get better day in and day out."


One of the difficult tasks that lie ahead for ETSU on Saturday night is containing 5-5 sophomore guard Andrea Riley. The Oklahoma State standout is averaging 22.9 points and 34.2 minutes this season. She has all ready notched 1,118 points in two seasons and is one of the best players in the country.


"There's not a word to describe how good she is," added Kemp. "She is very competitive and when the game is on the line she steps her game up to a new level. She gives her team what they need both offensively and defensively."


On Friday, the Lady Bucs faced the media for a 30-minute session and then finally took the court inside Wells Fargo Arena for a 50-minute practice.


The winner of ETSU/Oklahoma State moves into the second round and faces either Ohio State or Florida State on Monday night.


Fans in Johnson City should visit Fanatics located inside the Doubletree as it will be used as the Lady Buccaneer headquarters during the tournament.


For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit