|WBB releases 2012-13 schedule|
MOSCOW - The Idaho women's basketball team will face a healthy mixture of regional opponents during non-conference play before opening up an 18-game Western Athletic Conference schedule, which features five new conference foes, as head coach Jon Newlee announced the 2012-13 schedule Tuesday.
Idaho will face opponents from the Pac 12, Mountain West, Big West, West Coast Conference, Big Sky and Ohio Valley Conference in its 11-game non-conference schedule. That lineup features home games against Portland (Nov. 16), Montana (Nov. 18) and Eastern Washington (Nov. 27), and road games at Wyoming (Nov. 9), Colorado (Nov. 11), UC Irvine (Dec. 5), UC Riverside (Dec. 7), Washington (Dec. 16) and Gonzaga (Dec. 20), in addition to games against Montana and Tennessee State at the Lady Griz Classic in Missoula, Mont., Nov. 29-30.
"It's a great schedule, it's balanced with good road games but also good home games for our fans to come and see," Newlee said. "We've got a great sampling from each league in our region to see where we are as we go into the WAC."
After six straight road games, the Vandals will return home to open WAC play against conference-newcomer Seattle U on Dec. 29 in the Cowan Spectrum. In addition to Seattle U, the four other new WAC members for 2012-13 are UT Arlington, UT San Antonio, Texas State and Denver. Those teams join San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, along with Idaho, as the returning WAC teams. The Vandals will play home-and-home series' with each of its nine WAC opponents for an 18-game conference schedule leading up to the WAC Tournament March 13-16 in Las Vegas.
"It will be really different going to Denver and all the Texas schools," Newlee said of the new-look WAC. "Seattle was tough when we played them last year and that's another newcomer coming into the league this year. I think it's going to be a great year, it's very balanced. It's going to be one of those years where you have to bring it every night, and every game will be crucial when you get towards the end and see where you're standing heading into the WAC Tournament."
Idaho returns some veteran leadership in 2012-13, including fifth-year senior Jessica Graham and junior first-team All-WAC and Academic All-American Alyssa Charlston. Sophomores Krissy Karr (6.9 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game) and Stacey Barr (10.3 ppg, 62 3-points made) set the bar high during their freshmen campaigns as well.
"My expectations are that we're going to get better every day and get better every game," Newlee said. "As always, it's a process of blending new players in with the old, but we have a really good mix and we have really good leadership from the people who have been here for a while. Alyssa Charlston and Jessica Graham, those are good leaders who understand what we're doing here."
Newlee also has high expectations for his four incoming freshmen, Ali Forde, Connie Ballestero, Christina Salvatore and Abi Quinnett.
"With the newcomers, they're extremely talented," he added. "My goal is for them to get their feet wet in the non-conference and then be ready when conference starts. I'm counting on those freshmen to come in and really make a big impact for us once we get in to WAC play."
Newlee made it clear that the goal for the 2012-13 season, as with every season, is to win the WAC Championship and reach the NCAA Tournament, a goal that comes with a lot of hard work.
"Every year that is the goal, and that goal is attainable, there's no question about it," he said. "In our team meeting we talked about winning the WAC. Certainly it's out there for the taking, and we're going to have to put in the hard work in the preseason and in practice to attain that goal. With our attitude and the way our work ethic has been, I can't wait for the season to start."