Tigers Counting on Freshman Smalley

As Auburn prepares for NCAA Tournament play, Alli Smalley will be counted on to play a key role vs. George Washington.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn coach Nell Fortner says that freshman two-guard Alli Smalley will be called on again to help out with the point guard duties when the Tigers play George Washington on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Senior Tamela McCorvey has been limited in recent weeks by a groin pull and that injury has hampered her quickness and mobility. She is averaging 6.5 points per game and 2.7 assists.

Even prior to McCorvey's injury the point guard spot had been an issue for the Tigers with starter Whitney Boddie academically ineligible after the first semester and another player who can handle the position, Reneisha Hobbs, out for the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon.

"We will play Alli Smalley there a little bit," Fortner says. "It is just point guard by committee right now. We will try to see what we can do right now with Tamela McCorvey. She has an injury that is not good. It is one of those that take a while to heal and we don't have a while. She is better than she was, but she is not 100 percent."

Smalley, who is averaging 10.7 points and 2.8 assists per game, scored a team-high 17 vs. George Washington when the teams played on Jan. 3rd in Auburn. The Colonials won that game 68-66 with a three-point shot to beat the buzzer.

The Tigers and Colonials will tip off at 1 p.m. CDT at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif., on the campus of Stanford University. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

George Washington, which is currently ranked 16th and 20th in the major polls, is 25-6 while Auburn is 20-11.

"We are excited about playing in the NCAA Tournament," says Fortner, whose team was on the bubble last year but did not receive a bid and played in the WNIT. "It was a neat experience to see our name on the TV and feel the excitement of the kids. It was a fun atmosphere. That part is over now and now it is time to get down to the business at hand, and that is preparing for George Washington.

"We are familiar with them as they are with us since we played them in early January," Fortner adds. "It is just a matter of going back and getting re-familiar with them and getting ready to play them on Saturday."

Commenting on the Colonials, the Auburn coach says, "They have an excellent point guard (Kimberly Beck, 13.3 ppg, 6.3 assists). They have one of the best point guards in the country. They are just a really good team, but their point guard is really outstanding.

"Their post play is very good. Jessica Adair (15.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is a big 6-4, very mobile kid inside. They have experience on the perimeter. Sarah-Jo Lawrence (12.9 ppg) can really just put the ball on the floor and get it to the hole. They are a team that has played together for a while and they have been to the NCAA Tournament. They come in with a lot more experience than we have."

The winner of Saturday's game will play again on Monday vs. the winner of third-seeded Cal and 14th-seeded University of San Diego.


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