This year's squad boasts eight veterans from that roster: four guards, sophomore Ashley Awkward, 5'6'', senior Carletta Brown, 5'2''; senior Elizabeth Cansdale, 5'8'', and junior Ashley Johnson, 5'9; senior centers Amber Terrell, 6'4'', and Amber Watts, 6'3''; and forwards Ellen Buchanan, a 5'11'' junior, and Armintie Price, a 5'9'' sophomore. All of them know what it means to break an eight-year drought in post-season NCAA tournament play: last year, they did it together.
Four seniors graduated from Ole Miss' turnaround program in 2004, but the returning Rebel veterans don't lack for help: 5'10 junior LaTanya Jones and a pair of 5'9'' freshmen, Lindsay Roy and Tassie Worsham, at guard, are joined by three 6'1'' forwards: true freshmen Carla Bartee and Dee Forrest and redshirt Jada Mincy.
Starting point guard Brown is a senior who averaged 4.7 assists per game last year while tossing a game average of 8.2 points through the net. After six games her current average is 4.5 assists per game; she has 27 for the season, and the best individual assist-to-turnovers ratio in the league with 10 giveaways. While stat sheets can't tell the whole story, her coach's comments bolster Brown's numbers: Ross said Mississippi is "fortunate to have a returning point guard with the poise and experience of Carletta (who) leads by example."
Ole Miss's inside game depends heavily on senior center Amber Watts, whose presence in the paint has proven a dependable force for the Rebels: a three year starter, she is on pace to score more than 1,000 career points and has nine double-doubles, including her 23 points and 13 boards this year against McNeese State. Through six games, she has 13 blocks; against New Orleans, she posted a season-high four steals.
Another Rebel standout is sophomore Price, whose output against SMU was 16 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals en route to being named to the Hoops for the Cure all-tournament team. . She averages almost 14 points per game; for the year, she has 19 steals, 25 assists, and 52 rebounds.
Joining Price, Brown and Watts in starting are Buchanan and Cansdale, who are averaging 28 and 18 minutes, 7.2 and 6.3 points, and 6.5 and 1.7 boards. Relief for the Rebels comes from Mincy, who averages 18 minutes, followed by Awkward at 14.5 minutes and Forrest at 13 minutes per outing.
Tech, currently ranked 13th in both national polls, is the second nationally-ranked opponent Mississippi faces this year. Earlier, Louisiana Tech, then ranked 21/23, beat Mississippi 88-70.
Mississippi has not played for a full week; the Lady Raiders defeated Oral Roberts University Thursday night 79-46. Tech's next game, after semester finals conclude, will be in the opening round of the Duel in the Desert tournament against Arkansas State in Las Vegas, Nevada.