Lady Raiders ready to start conference play

With the start of conference play starting in less than 24 hours, the Lady Raiders are ready to start their trip through the Big Twelve schedule. While a 14-0 record and number one ranking look good, it just makes that target on the Lady Raiders' chests a little bit bigger.

"Everything changes with Big Twelve play. That's something you've got to think about in our situation. They've already played one Big Twelve game and it will be our opener," said Lady Raiders Head Coach Marsha Sharp. While Oklahoma State doesn't figure to be too big of a problem, Texas Tech players will have to adjust to a different level of play. "Everything takes a step up, and all the intensity is a little bit different for conference play," said Coach Sharp.

Oklahoma State's offense features one of the top corers in the Big Twelve, Trisha Skibbe. Skibbe has added to her game after a successful season last year. "They build everything around Trisha Skibbe. She's averaging about 24 points a game, one of the leading scorers in the Big Twelve conference, and certainly has enough firepower that she can give them enough of a boost for them to win off of her scoring ability," said Coach Sharp. The key will be o keep the ball out of her hands whenever possible, and find a way to slow her down when she does touch the ball. Coach Sharp feels that the Lady Raiders have improved their post defense following a season where bigger post players had success against the smaller Lady Raiders. "We're a little bit stronger there now. I think our mentality is a lot better," said Coach Sharp.

On defense Oklahoma State will probably try a number of defenses to see if they can find a way to slow down the balanced Lady Raider attack. "I think they're going to run some man and zone, both, at us," said Coach Sharp. With the changing defenses the Lady Raiders will have to recognize he defense and adjust accordingly. "Certainly that's been a strength of Erin's. I think when you have her run your attack you always feel good about recognition of defense," said Coach Sharp. In the end a balanced attack will be the key to a successful night on the offensive end of the court. "I think we're going to try to be pretty balanced. We'll probably try to create some offense for our perimeter players because they've been so successful in non-conference, but I do think that our post players are really beginning to have presence on the offensive end, Said Coach Sharp.

With a brutal conference schedule ahead, it's time to take stock of this team. Prior to the season the Lady Raiders were trying to establish that they had the mentality necessary to compete at the top of the Big Twelve. "I think they have proven to me that they can hold off challenges," said Coach Sharp. "I think the biggest example of that in non-conference play was probably at Washington." This mentality hasn't been limited to just a few players, instead the entire squad has embraced it, with great results. "I think it's a mentality as a group too. I think our seniors have provided some leadership, but I also think the fact that we have so many individuals that can step up and make plays so that one person doesn't have to carry that load has been the biggest strength of this group," said Coach Sharp. Even with the praise, Coach sharp knows there are some things for the Lady Raiders to work on. "I've been a little concerned about our toughness as far as when people get real physical with us. There are going to be a few teams, and Texas is the first one that jumps out at you, that are going to be so physical you're going to have to fight through that to be able to score," said Coach Sharp.

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