Katie Frerking (above) and the Tigers will take on St. John's.
Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy will be relying on her “Big Three” as she likes to call them as Auburn opens play in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT (ESPN2 TV) on Friday at the Ferrell Center on the campus of Baylor University where the Tigers will take on St. John’s, the Big East tournament champion.
The Tigers, who are the Dallas Region’s No. 9 seed, bring a 19-11 record into the contest vs. No. 8 seed St. John’s, which has a 23-9 record.
Junior guard Katie Frerking, one of the Big Three, said that she believes her team will be focused on doing whatever it takes to get Auburn’s first victory in the NCAA Tournament since 2009 when the Tigers were a No. 2 seed. That was also the last time AU was in the NCAA Tournament field.
“That is definitely something that our coaches have emphasized to us in all of our preparation,” Frerking said of her team concentrating on just one thing, which is defeating the Red Storm.
“We are used to that playing in the SEC, and as tough as that conference is, night in and night out, we have to just take one game at a time so we are used to that,” Frerking added.
Another member of the Big Three, senior center Tra’Cee Tanner, said, “It is definitely an honor for us to be able to come out here and be the face of Auburn again and do something that hasn’t been done in a minute, but we have worked hard for this and we are going to take full advantage of the opportunity...we just want to come out here and do big things.”
Tra'Cee Tanner is shown in action this season vs. Arkansas.
Tanner is Auburn’s top rebounder at 7.7 per game and No. 2 in scoring (12.0) behind junior guard Brandy Montgomery (14.1). Frerking is averaging 11.9 points, 3.0 assists and 2.7 steals.
Williams-Flournoy hopes the Tigers finish the game with a high number of steals because her team’s aggressive, fullcourt pressure defense is a key to Auburn’s success. She noted that people have to be in the right place at the right time to make that strategy work.
“It is a lot of movement,” she said. “It’s a lot of things that have to be done correctly in the right way. We are not just running up and down the floor trapping people, all out of control. There is a rotation, there are things that have to be done.
“I think the end of last year when we really went on that roll when we won four of our last five games, you could tell at that point it was starting to click because we were a young team,” the coach added.
St. John’s is a familiar opponent to the Tigers. Although the teams have played just twice, Auburn lost a close game at St. John’s last year after taking a comfortable victory over the Red Storm a season earlier at Auburn. Williams-Flournoy went against St. John’s eight times when she was head coach at Georgetown prior to taking the Auburn job.
Tanner said the Tigers have a good idea of what to expect vs. St. John’s since almost everybody on the team has played against this opponent. Williams-Flournoy said the previous two matchups are getting a lot of attention from the Auburn coaches as they prepare for Friday’s game.
“You take a lot from it,” she said. “That is not everything that you go on about because the team is different. His team is different, our team is different, but there are a lot of similarities because nobody plays the way we play so we have to look at how they went against our press, what they did against our zone because their teams are so much different than our team.”
Friday’s game will mark the 19th appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Tigers who have a 29-18 record in those contests.