COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --- With the start of their 2011-12 season just days away, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team will begin its season with some of the best competition the NCAA has to offer as they take part in the Preseason WNIT. Tech begins play with East Tennessee State Friday, at 6 p.m.
"We're excited to play in the Preseason WNIT where the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the country will be competing," head coach Sytia Messer said. "A tournament like this will prepare us for our conference schedule."
This will be the 23rd meeting between the Golden Eagles and Buccaneers, with TTU holding a firm grip on the series with a mark of 19-3. In their last meeting during the 2004-05 season however, ETSU was able to come away with an 81-77 win at Eblen Center.
The TTU faithful can expect to see a lot of familiar faces this season as the Golden Eagles welcome back all five starters and a total of 11 returnees from last season's Ohio Valley Conference championship run, including four seniors who should provide some veteran leadership.
"Having four seniors has been great," Messer said. "My players have learned my philosophy and they know my expectations and we are seeing it out on the court."
Of all the seniors returning, none is more decorated than Tacarra Hayes. Named the OVC Preseason Player of the Year, Hayes led the Golden Eagles in several offensive categories last season including points (525), rebounds (234) and assists (145).
Darling, who was named the OVC Newcomer of the Week seven times last season, finished her first season at TTU with 236 points and 192 rebounds.
Heady, who was named to the OVC all-Newcomer Team, was Tech's second leading score last season, accounting for 274 points.
ETSU finished its 2010-11 season with a 19-12 record, which included an 11-3 record in its final 14 games. The Buccaneers return three of their five starters from a season ago including Natalie Pickwell, who finished second on the team in scoring with 364 points. ETSU also welcomes back Destiny Mitchell, who finished second on the team in rebounds last year with 220.
"For us to be successful against ETSU we will have to stop them on the defensive end," Messer said. "They are a very good team and Destiny Mitchell is one of the best players I have seen on any level."
Season tickets are on sale for the 2011-12 season and can be purchased at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940. There is a possibility Tech could host one or two more games of the Preseason WNIT. Any potential WNIT games at Tennessee Tech are not included in the 2011-12 season ticket packages and must be purchased separately. For further updates log on to TTUSports.com.
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The radio broadcast for the game via WHUB AM 1400 will be aired on a delay and will be broadcasted at the conclusion of the TTU men's basketball game vs. Miami.