No Small Task: Tech Preps For Penn State

The Lady Raiders take an undefeated record into their first Top 25 battle of the non-conference schedule.

When Monique Smalls went down for the Lady Raiders (6-0) on Wednesday night in the United Spirit Arena, the Penn State Lady Lions (6-1) started to lick their chops with the possibility of facing Texas Tech without the team's senior point guard.


But Lady Raider fans breathed a sigh of relief when Tech head Coach Kristy Curry said Smalls would be ready to go on Saturday.


"We feel like she'll be ready to go tomorrow," she said, "so there's no secret there, and I know if anybody would be, it would be her."


Tech is going to need her. Smalls leads the team in steals will anchor the team's constant pressure against  one of the backcourts in the nation.


The Lady Lions return nine letter winners and four starters from last year including Big Ten first teamer Alex Bentley and the conference's Freshman and Sixth Player of the Year in Maggie Lucas.


Curry said this is one of best backcourts they will see all year and it will be a good primer for Big 12 play.


"It's going to be a true Big 12 test for us," she said. "We're about to have 16 of these in a row night in and night out, so it's a great measuring stick for us and we're excited to be home."


All three of the Lady Lions guards average double figures with Lucas leading the way with 18.7 points per game.


They are coming off two straight games where they eclipsed the 100 point mark on their way to victories, their most recent coming off number 13 North Carolina.


This is going to be a match-up of strength versus strength. The Lady Raiders will have to deal a backcourt who protects the ball very well only yielding 15 turnovers a game, and the Lady Lions will have to deal with a Tech defense that forces 25 turnovers a night.


Monique Smalls went up to Penn State to face off with the Lady Lions last year only to be sent home with a bad taste in her mouth as Tech fell 76-68 in the inaugural Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge.


Smalls said she is ready to go despite the injury she suffered Wednesday night, and her team is ready to prove that they are good enough to take anybody and they will prove that tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the USA.


"It helps us get prepared for the Big 12," she said. "Playing against these other teams and beating them by a lot--yes, there was stuff that we learned, but playing against a team that's ranked and you can prove yourself before even the conference starts, it's a big thing."

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