October 30, 2003
Cowley basketball teams to open season Saturday
Ready to show why they were picked first in the Jayhawk East, the Cowley County Community College basketball teams will open their seasons Saturday by hosting Butler County.
The women, who will take the floor with an entirely new roster and coaching staff from a year ago, will battle the Lady Grizzlies at 6 p.m. The Cowley men will look to pick up where they left off last season when they do battle with Butler at 8 p.m.
For new Cowley women’s coach Stephanie Smith, the contest against Butler is one she has been looking forward to since being named Lady Tigers head coach in April.
“I will be walking into a new gymnasium, with new players and a new crowd,” Smith said. “It’s an exciting time for us. We just need to concentrate on what we need to do and stay focused the entire 40 minutes.”
With LaShelle Parker, the lone returning player from last year’s 28-6 team, lost for the season with a knee injury, the Lady Tigers will have five new starters on the floor.
Marina Caran, a 5-foot-5 point guard from Kovin, Yugoslavia, is expected to be the lone freshman to start against the Lady Grizzlies. Caran was a member of the Yugoslavian Junior National Team and averaged 30 points and 10 assists for her Club team.
“I think Marina is ready,” Smith said. “She’s quick, and smart enough that I think she will be fine out there.”
The four sophomores expected to start bring a wealth of experience to the lineup. Ariana Scales, a transfer from Jefferson College (Mo.), who averaged 20 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds, will start at the two guard.
Devin Reed, a transfer from Vanderbilt University, and University of Kansas transfer Ebony Haliburton, are slated to start at the forward positions. Ashley Stinson, who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds while playing her freshman season for Smith at Wabash Valley College, will start at the post.
“I hope that maturity will help us get off to a strong start,” Smith said. “It should also give the foreign freshmen a chance to see what the American game is like before having to go onto the court.”
The foreign freshmen besides Caran are Camila Nass, a 6-5 center from Joinville, Brazil; Priscilla De Souza, a 5-7 guard from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Domenica Silva, a 6-0 forward from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Cowley women are so deep in talent that 5-5 guard Brandi Lewis, the Newcomer of the Year in the Big Sky Conference while playing at Montana State last season, and Devin Reed, a talented guard who played at Iowa Western Community College, will be asked to come off the bench in the opener.
Going up against Butler, picked to finish eighth in the Jayhawk West, will be a good season opening opponent for the Lady Tigers. Cowley will definitely be ready for the Lady Grizzlies after scheduling scrimmages against four top-25 schools in its preseason play.
“We had a really good preseason schedule,” Smith said. “I think it opened our eyes as to what we can do. Butler is strong at the guard positions, and is an athletic team. It will be a good match with our guards versus theirs. I think what you will see Saturday is a fast-paced game, and the team that wins will be the one whose guards played the best that night.”
As for the Cowley men, they return some talented players to go along with an exciting class of freshmen as they prepare to open the 2003-2004 season.
Francis Cuyler, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Leesburg, Fla., and Alex Elam, a 6-4 sophomore forward from Wichita, who were each named All-Region VI performers last season, will start Saturday’s opener verses Butler.
Fellow sophomores Mark Mathew (6-7, forward) and Brandon Kelley (5-10, redshirt point guard) also will be in the starting lineup. Terike Barrowes, a 6-7 freshman from Pompano Beach, Fla., seems to have the advantage in the battle for the starting post position. However, Smithson also has been pleased with what he has seen from 6-8 Coastal Georgia Junior College transfer Valentino Hart, and 6-7 freshman Jasper McDuffus, who played high school basketball with Barrowes at Ely High School.
Cowley will be facing a Butler team picked to finish seventh in the Jayhawk West after placing sixth a year ago with a 6-10 record.
Cowley head coach Randy Smithson is looking forward to getting the season under way against the program that he led to two national runner-up finishes during his 11 years at the school.
“There’s only so much we can learn by beating up on each other in the practices,” Smithson said. “Only other teams can expose your weaknesses, so our kids need to play right now. It’s been 11 years since I coached at Butler. I have grown into this job and into building this program here. It will be a little bit more emotional when we go there because so much of what is on their walls I am a part of.”
The Tigers are coming off a season in which they finished 22-12 and narrowly missed qualifying for the national tournament for the first time in nearly 50 years. This year’s success will hinge on the play of the newcomers.
“We have got to blend in some kids who are still learning, and the only way for them to learn is to get them into these games,” Smithson said. “We almost kind of handcuff our kids early in the year because we want them to execute more than we want them to be basketball players. This team will develop and mature as the season goes on.”
Despite being picked as the favorite in the Jayhawk East, Smithson expects a tough battle from the Grizzlies.
“I know this, they will be well-coached and will be a good test for us,” Smithson said. “That first game is always interesting. You have to make adjustments on the run.”
Both Cowley coaches agree that each of their teams have a ton of potential, but they still have a lot of growing to do if they want to reach their goal of qualifying for the national tournament, and winning a national championship.
“If we develop team chemistry and play together, we should have a chance to win a lot of games,” Smith said.
Fans who bring a canned food and boxed food item will receive $2 off the regular cost of admission. The cost to attend the games is $5 for adults and $3 for students in grades K-12. Cowley students will be admitted free with a student ID.