Nov. 11, 2010
Auburn Notes | Mercer Notes | Game Day Central
[NR/RV] Auburn (0-0) vs. Mercer (0-0)
When: Friday, November 12 5 p.m. CT
Where: Auburn Arena (9,121) Auburn, Ala.
Radio: WMXA 96.7; Andy Burcham (play-by-play), Arnika Edwards (color)
Audio Webcast: AuburnTigers.com
Series: Auburn leads, 10-9
Last Meeting: Dec. 8, 2001 - 97-59, AU in Auburn, Ala.
Last Meeting in Auburn: Dec. 8, 2001 - 97-59, AU
Up Next: Auburn continues a season-opening three-game homestand with a 6 p.m., Monday game against ACC member Florida State
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team will christen the new Auburn Arena Friday evening as the Tigers welcome Atlantic Sun-member Mercer in for the first regular-season game in the new facility. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT with the doors opening at 3:30 p.m. The first 1,000 fans through the door will receive a commemorative inaugural-game pennant.
While it will be the first official game for the Tigers in the new arena, Auburn head coach Nell Fortner and her team have been reaping the benefits of the facility for months.
"Preseason workouts have gone really well. The new building has afforded us the opportunity to work whenever we want to, whether it is on the practice floor or the main floor," said Fortner. We have been able to do a lot more individual workouts and it is a more inviting place for athletes to want to come and workout."
Auburn returns five starters and nine letterwinners from last season's team that went 16-16 (5-11 SEC). With the loss of only one player (KeKe Carrier) and the addition of five freshmen, Fortner hopes to use the experience and depth to eventually get back to a run-and-gun, up-tempo style of offense.
"We have four healthy freshmen right now that we are trying to bring up to speed, but it is going to take a while, because that pace can be brutal," said Fortner. "On defense we have worked hard on pressure, with a lot more pressing and a lot more trapping, being more versatile on that end of the floor knowing that it is going to take more time for the offense to meet that. It has been fun working on it and I am looking forward to getting back to that style of play. "
Alli Smalley, a native of Arab, Ala., returns for her senior year as Auburn's top scorer from last season. She averaged 15.7 points per game, hitting 57 3-pointers on the season at 32.6 percent. She enters her senior season just 12 3-pointers shy of tying the Auburn career 3-point field goal record.
Right alongside Smalley is fellow senior Jordan Greenleaf, a native of Rex, Ga. She averaged 7.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game a year ago. She finished the year ranked 12th in the SEC in total rebounding and fourth in offensive rebounding.
Other returning starters are sophomore point guard Morgan Toles (7.6 ppg, 4.4 apg), sophomore forward Blanche Alverson (6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and junior guard Parrisha Simmons (3.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Mercer is under the direction of first-year head coach Susie Gardner, formerly an assistant coach at Florida (2007-10) and head coach at Arkansas (2003-07). The Bears return only two starters and five letterwinners from last season's squad that went 14-16 (11-9 A-Sun).
Junior guard Neicey Lewis is Mercer's top returning scorer with 6.2 points per game. Senior center Kourtney Carter is right behind her with 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
"Mercer has been difficult to scout because they have a new coach this year and several new players, so you have to almost throw out the film from last season," said Fortner. "We have had to go back and look at old film from Arkansas to see what some of their coach's tendencies are."
While Auburn did not play any exhibition games this season, Mercer played an exhibition game against Georgia College & State University on Nov. 4, losing 67-57.
Season and single-game tickets are still on sale with individual packages starting at $50 for reserved chairback seats. Single-game tickets are also on sale with reserved chairback seats for only $7. Auburn students are allowed in for free and discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.
For more information, please call the Athletic Department ticket office at 1-800-AUB-1957 or visit www.AUBTix.com.
For fans that cannot make it to the game, GameTracker and a live game blog will be available at www.AuburnTigers.com. Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 97.7 FM with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika Edwards. Audio and video Webcasts will also be available at www.AuburnTigers.com.
For news and live-game updates, follow Auburn women's basketball on Twitter at twitter.com/AuburnWBB.
Auburn Women's Basketball Quick Hitters
Friday marks Auburn's first game in the new $86 million Auburn Arena
Auburn is 31-8 all-time in season-openers and 34-5 in home openers
Nell Fortner is 5-1 in season-openers (winning the last five), and 6-0 in home-openers
Auburn has won 31-straight home openers
The Tigers return five starters from last season's squad that went 15-16 (5-11 SEC)
Six Auburn players are Georgia natives with a seventh attending high school in Georgia
Auburn leads the all-time series with Mercer, 10-9 (7-4 when playing in Auburn)
After losing the first nine games in the series with Mercer, Auburn has won the last 10 dating back to 1981
Fortner has a 1-2 record against Mercer head coach Susie Gardner (Gardner was head coach at Arkansas, 2003-07)
This is Fortner's first meeting against Mercer as a head coach
Auburn holds a 41-48 all-time record against teams from Georgia
This will be Auburn's first game ever on Nov. 12; it also marks AU's third-earliest start to the season
The Tigers are 101-22 all-time in the month of November, 30-9 under Fortner
Auburn is 78-2 under Fortner when scoring 70 or more points
Fortner has guided the Tigers to a 71-27 record when playing non-conference games, 29-4 when playing at home
Alli Smalley enters the season needing just 12 3-pointers to tie the school record of 184 held by Tiffany Krantz
Auburn was picked sixth in the SEC Preseason Media and Coaches' polls, Tennessee was picked to win the league
Alli Smalley was picked the the Coaches' Preseason All-SEC First Team and to the media's Second Team
Nell Fortner is beginning her seventh season at Auburn, marking her longest tenure at any job
The Tigers welcome five newcomers: Peyton Davis, Camille Glymph, Courtney Strain, Tyrese Tanner, Jassany Williams
Carla McGhee returns to Auburn for her second stint as an assistant coach
Auburn will be a first- and second-round host of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in the new Auburn Arena
Auburn is receiving votes inthe USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll and is unranked in the Associated Press poll. Mercer is not ranked.
NEXT UP FOR THE TIGERS
Auburn will continue its season-opening three-game homestand with a 6 p.m., Monday meeting with #18/14 Florida State.
Auburn is in its 40th season of women's basketball and sports an all-time record of 780-344... AU has made 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, two WNIT appearances and three Final Fours in the program's history... Head Coach Nell Fortner is in her seventh season at Auburn with a 133-84 career record and a 116-73 record on the Plains... The Tigers are coming off a 15-16 season in 2009-10.
FIRST GAME IN AUBURN ARENA
Friday's game is Auburn's first in the new $86 million Auburn Arena. The Tigers move across the street from its former home, Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum - the team's home since 1974. Auburn played its first game in BEMC on Jan. 11, 1974, defeating in-state rival Alabama, 69-31.
This will be the 20th meeting between Auburn and Mercer with Auburn holding a 10-9 series advantage. Auburn has won the last 10 meetings and has a 7-4 record when playing at home. Head coach Nell Fortner has never coached against Mercer.
Auburn returns all but one player, including five starters, from last season's squad that went 15-16 (5-11 SEC). The Tigers bring back 80 percent of its scoring from last season, led by senior Alli Smalley with 15.7 points per game, and 82.2 percent of their rebounding. Senior Jordan Greenleaf averaged 7.1 boards per game while Parrisha Simmons added 5.1.
Along with the nine returning letterwinners, Auburn also welcomes five freshmen to the team: Peyton Davis, Camille Glymph, Courtney Strain, Tyrese Tanner and Jassany Williams.
Under first-year head coach Susie Gardner, Mercer returns only two starters from last season's team that went 14-16 (11-9 A-Sun). Junior Neicey Lewis is the top returning scorer with 6.2 points per game, followed by senior post Kourtney Carter with 5.7. Carter is also the top returning rebounder with 4.7 per game. In all, Mercer returns only 28.7 percent of its scoring and 33.2 percent of its rebounding. The Bears welcome five newcomers to the team for 2010-11.
LAST TIME OUT FOR AUBURN
Auburn elected not to conduct in any preseason games and instead played a pair of closed scrimmages. Auburn's last game was a 65-54 loss to Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament on March 5, 2010.
LAST TIME OUT FOR MERCER
Mercer fell to Georgia College & State University, 67-57, on Nov. 4 in the team's lone exhibition game. Neicy Lewis and Brittnee Hazel led the Bears with 11 points each in the loss. Alex Phillips and Sharmesia Smith added 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
Mercer trailed by 11 at the half, but was able to get on course in the second half, out-scoring GCSU by a point.
FORTNER VS. GARDNER
This will be the fourth meeting between Auburn head coach Nell Fortner and Mercer's Susie Gardner. The pair met three times while Gardner was the head coach at Arkansas from 2003-07.
Fortner won the first meeting on Feb. 3, 2005, 62-51, in Auburn, but lost the next two meetings.
LAST TIME VS. MERCER
Six Tigers scored in double figures, led by Natasha Brackett with 14, as Auburn downed Mercer, 97-59, on Dec. 8, 2001 in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers held the Bears to just 19 first-half points, cruising to the 38-point win.
Nicole Louden followed Brackett with 13 points while Tia Miller scored 12. LaKeisha Johnson, Le'Coe Willingham and Ezria Parsons scored 11 points each. For Mercer, Tracy Henry led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Jwanda Robreson with 14 points.
VS. THE ATLANTIC SUN
Auburn is 12-9 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Sun conference with 19 of those 21 games coming against Mercer. Auburn's last meeting with an A-Sun team came on Nov. 21, 2003 as the Tigers downed Stetson, 92-37, in Auburn.
IN SEASON OPENERS
In 39 seasons, Auburn has put together a 31-8 record in season openers (home or away) and sports a 21-3 mark when opening the season at home. The Tigers are winners of their last 19 home season openers with the last time Auburn lost being a 71-56 loss to Talladega in the 1977-78 season opener.
The Tigers are 5-1 under head coach Nell Fortner in season openers and are winners of five straight season-opening games. Auburn is 3-0 under Fortner when opening the season at home.
IN HOME OPENERS
In 39 seasons, Auburn has put together a 34-5 record in home openers and is the winner of 31 straight home-openers. Having not lost a home opener since 1978, the last loss came in a 63-80 loss to Florida on Nov. 20, 1978.
ON THIS DATE. . .
Friday's game against Mercer will mark the first time Auburn has played on Nov. 12 and is the third-earliest start to the season for the Tigers - Auburn opened the 2006-07 season on Nov. 10 and the 2007-08 season on Nov. 11.
Auburn is 101-22 all-time in the month of November, including a 30-9 mark under Nell Fortner (records begin in 1978-79 season, not all dates provided prior to or during that season).
Since a 77-70 loss to Virginia on Jan. 5, 1992, the Auburn Tigers have compiled a 125-6 record against non-conference opponents when playing at home.
AGAINST THE PEACH STATE
Auburn holds a 41-48 record against teams from the state of Georgia. Records against Georgia teams: Berry College (0-2), Fort Valley State (0-1), Georgia (15-23), Georgia Southern (4-0), Georgia State (7-7), Georgia Tech (3-0), Mercer (10-9), North Georgia (0-1), Shorter College (0-1), Valdosta State (0-1) and West Georgia (2-3).
Two seasons ago, Auburn boasted the only all in-state starting lineup for a ranked team as all five starters hailed from the state of Alabama. This season, Auburn could start an all-Georgia lineup if it wanted.
Six players on Auburn's roster claim the state of Georgia as home. Jordan Greenleaf (Rex), Morgan Jennings (Atlanta), Parrisha Simmons (Macon), Nicolle Thomas (Moultrie) and Pascale West (LaGrange) all hail from the state of Georgia. Not included in that list is Andalusia, Ala., native Blanche Alverson, who led Buford (Ga.) High School to a Georgia state championship and was named the Class AA Player of the Year as a senior.
Mercer is based out of Macon, Ga., the hometown of Auburn's Simmons.
84 AND COUNTING
Auburn junior guard Alli Smalley earned her first collegiate start on Dec. 29, 2007 at Saint Joseph's, the 14th game of her collegiate career, and has not left. Since then, Smalley has started in 84 consecutive games.
OUTSIDE THE LEAGUE
Nell Fortner has guided the Tigers to a 71-27 ledger in non-conference play. When playing at home, Fortner's teams have posted a 29-4 mark. The only four non-conference losses at home came from Xavier on Dec. 2, 2005 (58-60), No. 2 Duke on Dec. 31, 2004 (61-80), No. 20 George Washington on Jan. 3, 2008 (68-66) and No. 15 Texas A&M on Nov. 22, 2009 (79-59).
OFFENSE WINS GAMES
Auburn is 78-2 when scoring 70 or more points in the Nell Fortner era. The only times Auburn has lost when scoring at least 70 points was on Jan. 20, 2005 vs. No. 7 Tennessee, 71-81 and Feb. 19, 2009 at No. 18 Vanderbilt, 73-70. When scoring less than 70 points, Auburn is 38-71 during the Fortner era.
BUILDING WITH EXPERIENCE
Auburn enters the 2010-11 season with a mix of youth and experience. Nine of the 14 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores, but among the nine returning players, Auburn brings back 250 games of experience as a starter.
SMALLEY NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SEC
Auburn senior Alli Smalley was named to the Preseason All-SEC team by both the coaches and the media. The Coaches selected Smalley to the Preseason All-SEC First Team while the media voted her to the Second Team.
Smalley averaged 15.7 points per game last season, chipping in 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per outing.
AUBURN PICKED SIXTH IN SEC PRESEASON MEDIA AND COACHES POLLS
Coming off a 15-16 season, the Auburn women's basketball team was picked sixth in the preseason SEC media and coaches polls. Tennessee was the preseason favorite in both polls.
MAKING IT HOME
Nell Fortner enters her seventh season as Auburn's head coach, marking her longest tenure at any position in her career. The longest Fortner had stayed at a job prior to Auburn came from 1990-95 while she was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech under legendary head coach Leon Barmore.
Auburn welcomes five new faces to its lineup this season in freshmen Peyton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.), Camille Glymph (Greenville, S.C.), Courtney Strain (Woodland, Ala.), Tyrese Tanner (Birmingham, Ala.) and Jassany Williams (Davie, Fla.). The recruiting class was ranked 18th in the country by ESPN.com's HoopGurlz.
TIGERS SIGN HASINA MUHAMMAD FOR 2011-12
The Auburn women's basketball signed 6-1 guard/forward Hasina Muhammad (Ridgeway HS, Memphis, Tenn.) to a National Letter of Intent, head coach Nell Fortner announced on Nov. 10.
Muhammad is ranked as the No. 66 overall player in the country by ESPN's HoopGurlz. She is also ranked as the 17th-best guard in the country and No. 2 prospect in Tennessee by HoopGurlz.
Muhammad was also ranked by two other recruiting services. She is the No. 50 overall prospect according to the All-Star Girls Report and No. 47 in the Girls Basketball Report.