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Texas A&M Aggies 2011 NCAA women’s basketball champions

The Eagle


Sunday,, A April 10, 2011

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

A championship season

The Aggies begin to celebrate on the bench Tuesday night at Tu the end of their 76-70 victory over Notre Dame in the national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Eagle photo Stuart Villanueva Stuar

After postseason stumbles, A&M women’s basketball team puts together perfect run By ROBERT CESSNA


he Texas A&M women’s basketball team capped the most remarkable season in school history with a closing run that made winning the national championship that much sweeter. A&M (33-5) ended with vic-

tories over Baylor, Stanford and Notre Dame, which was the first time in the program’s history that the Aggies beat three straight Top 10 teams. All three of those programs also had won national titles. Each victory was more significant than the previous one, capped with a 76-70 victory over the Fighting Irish.

A&M, which squandered a 13-point first-half lead, had to rally y ffrom a seven-point second-half defici def t at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday night that set off a wild celebration that was repeated after they arrived in Aggieland, which has gone bonkers over a team that made its first trip to the Final Four a lasting one.

“I’m so proud of this team, and I’m so honored, honored to coach the seniors that I have on this basketball team,” A&M head coach Gary Blair said. “They’ve been very, very special.” No one was more special than the 65-year-old Blair who in eight seasons has made the Big 12’s worst program the nation’s best. He

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beat six Hall of Fame coaches in the NCAA tournament — Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Georgia’s Andy Landers, Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Baylor assistant Leon Barmore (who was Louisiana Tech’s legendary coach), Stanfor nf d’s Tara nfor VanDerveer and Notre Dame’s Muffet ff McGraw. ffet “I mean, those are our

heroes,” Blair said. “If I was collecting baseball cards right now, which I used to, I would have those cards. And so that gives you a high right there — competing against people of that caliber at this level. That is very important to me and still growing myself as a coach, learning

See CHAMPS, Page F4

Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

We didn’t pull this off alone Players, teachers, fans helped us win the title


here are so many people and entities and Aggies to thank. First and foremost, I want to thank my seniors. They believed in what we were doing and they gave us not only the leadership, but also made the big-game shots. They also represented us in press conferences and in dealing with newspapers, television and Internet sites for four years — singing the praises not only of themselves but of Texas A&M. Also, thanks to the professors who taught them, the students who went to class with them, and the teammates who tirelessly competed with them on the court. When you are a senior at A&M and you are not in the Corps, you do not wear the boots that every other student or student-athlete is envious of when you see those senior Corps members wearing them so proudly. But what we do have is the Aggie ring, and the Aggie ring stands for so much more than just a senior class ring. This team has traveled all over the country this season, playing in Cancun at Thanksgiving, appearing on national television in the

Gary Blair

Texas A&M ket l coach ketbal head women’s basketbal Jimmy V at Duke, winning against Rutgers in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden, and beating San Diego State in its own tournament in San Diego. They traveled very well in conference — ffinishing 6-2 on the road and winning at tough places like Norman, Austin, Lubbock and Ames, Iowa. Each of those Big 12 road games served as a springboard for us to become better because of the competition this league gives you. By the time we got through playing Baylor three times to the wire each time, we knew we were a better basketball team. When we went into the NCAA tournament we were

See BLAIR,, Page Page F7

INSIDE Championship season in revie re w /F2 Reed Rowdies enjoy championship season /F6 Texas A&M player breakdown /F8-9 What’s next? Aggies have full roster readyy ffor next season /F12 Blair used opportunity oppor to promote all Texas A&M sports spor /G2 Loyal band of followers from community had fun this season /G4 Former players, coaches knew Blair had title run in him /G5 Game-by-game breakdown of Aggies’ 2010-11 run to title /G8-9 Robert Cessna: Thanks for the ride, Ags /G12 Rober illanuev illanueva Cover photo by Stuart Villanueva

Stuart Villanueva Eagle photo by Stuar Texas A&M head women’s basketball coach Gary Blair holds up the championship trophy with the team as photographers capture the moment Tuesday night. Te

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Congratulations to the Aggie Women’s Basketball National Champs!

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

CHAMPS: Talented Kansas City recruits helped bolster Texas A&M program Continued from F2

from them, getting back to the film and seeing the mistakes that I made as a coach.” Blair started preparing the team for this season moments after suffering through one of those lessons — a crushing 72-71 seasonending loss last year. That close game against Gonzaga came in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Seattle’s Bank of America Arena. It was the second straight season the Aggies had fallen short as a No. 2 seed. The game ended with Danielle Adams missing a fade-away 18-footer on the baseline. It was a horrible game for the Aggies, who trailed by as many as 13 points against the seventhseeded Zags. That was A&M’s fifth straight NCAA tournament, but Blair said it was time to expect more than another 20win season and one or two postseason victories. He demanded his veteran team make a statement in the NCAA tournament. “Excuses are not going to work,” he said time after time in preparation n ffor the season. More importantly, the players agreed. “This team was sick of [postseason failure],” said senior point guard Sydney Colson said. “We got together this summer, decided to have voluntary workouts, conditioning, working on our one-on-one games, and I think it prepared us for what we were going to go through this season with the ups and downs we’ve had, everybody being resilient, working hard and believing in one another. We were able to fight and battle through it. And I think it’s huge not only for our team but for the Aggie community.”

Stuart Villanueva Eagle photo by Stuar Junior wing Tyra White drives for a basket against Stanford in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.

Talent, chemistry do it The team was the most talented in school history, but chemistry — and luck — played huge parts in making them national champs. Colson was the centerpiece of the signing Class of 2007 that was the foundation of the team. Blair initially signed Colson — who became the face of the program — along with sixth man Maryann Baker, who was big on leadership and even bigger when it came to supplying the team energy. It didn’t hurt that Colson and Baker were roommatess ffor four fun-filled seasons, going 115-29, which is a school record for a senior class. That signing class got a huge lift late when it added junior wing Tyra White. White, who had signed with LSU, was released from her scholarship when coach Pokey Chatman resigned after allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a former player. Free to look elsewhere, White turned to A&M in part because of assistant coach Johnnie Harris, who had recruited her just before leaving Arkansas. Harris, along with associate head Kelly Bond and Vic Schaefer, complement Blair perfectly. All three are great recruiters. Schaefer, already considered one of the game’s top defen ef sive minds, was efen front and center in A&M’s postseason play as the Aggies’ defense was splendid, holding the first four opponents under 50 points. Bond helped Blair mold the school’s best offensive team, while Harris aided Blair with the inbounds plays that proved to be the difference in the Final Four victories over Stanford and Notre Dame. “[Harris and Bond] are two of the best you’ve ever seen,” Blair said. “They both deserve to be head coaches also, along with Vic. But I’m not letting them go. I’ve got a lifetime contract with all of them.” The unit’s coup of getting Kansas City native White — who had to take a redshirt for the 2007-08 season after suffer ff ing a knee injury in ffer the opener — was repeated twice when A&M landed back-to-back junior college All-Americans in Tanisha Smith and Adams, who both played against White as youth in Kansas City. Smith, who played guard and forward, was the leading scorer on last season’s team and ended up getting drafte af d by afte the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Adams, the JC Player of

Stuart Villanueva Eagle photo by Stuar A&M’s Danielle Adams flies to the hoop past Texas Tech’s Monique Smalls in February at Reed Arena. Adams Te Texas scored 30 points in the 84-60 victory. the Year, was a much more interesting addition. The 6foot-1 forward/guard reminded all those who saw her play of Charles Barkley, but the difference was Adams had a mid-range game and typically would shoot several 3pointers per game. She had quick k ffeet and great hands, but many questioned if she was suited d ffor A&M’ss ffastpaced style predicated on pressure defense. Schaefer and Harris, though, convinced Adams that A&M would be a much better destination than Louisville, even though the Cardinal were coming off of their first Final Four trip. The Aggies sure needed her after losing 6-4 Kelsey Bone to South Carolina. Bone was the state’s No. 2 recruit behind Brittney Griner, who went to Baylor.

Adams coming through Adams was a great second choice. She came off the bench to score 24 points in her first game, helping the unranked Aggies beat sixth-ranked Duke in the 2009-2110 opener. That started a two-year love affair the fans had with Adams, but the bond with her teammates was even stronger. “We relished in every second of it and enjoyed every minute of it,” Colson said. “Danielle has meant a lot to this program. She’s gotten so many accolades that are just individual, but just like everybody else on this team, she’s such an unselfish person. “She could be a real meany, decide to be arrogant,, ffull of herself, lf, and she’s lf not. She’s one of the most selfless players on our team. I didn’t realize how much of a gem we had on our hands until last year.” Ironically, Bone transferred from South Carolina and had to sit out this season, but was able to practice, pushing Adams, who became the program’s first consensus All-American. Adams capped her Aggie career the way she started it — with a rush by scoring 30

“This team was sick of [postseason failure]. We got together this summer, decided to have voluntary workouts, conditioning, working on our one-on-one games, and I think it prepared us for what we were going to go through this season with the ups and downs we’ve had, everybody being resilient, working hard and believing in one another. We were able to fight and battle through it. And I think it’s huge not only for our team but for the Aggie community.” Senior point guard Sydney Colson

points against Notre Dame, 22 of them in the second half to earn MVP honors in leading A&M to the title. Many times, Adams would look skyward after scoring. “God has worked through this team so graceful ef ly, and, eful I mean, we’ve been in Bible study ever since we started the tournament,” Adams said. “And even during the season.” Colson, who battled through several inju in ries in her career, including a major knee surgery right before her sophomore season, had a roller-coaster Final Four. She spent time on the bench in the second half of the 63-62 victory over Stanford because of poor decisions, which led to six turnovers, and she had to go to the bench in the first half against Notre Dame because of fouls. But in each game, she was there when the team needed her most. Af r Stanfor Afte nf d scored to nfor take the lead with 9.2 seconds left, she drove the length of the court to deliver the bounce pass to White for the game-winner with 3.3 seconds left. Colson came back in the second half against Notre Dame to direct the offense that made 15 of 22 shots behind Adams. She atoned for a turnover with A&M nursing a 73-70 lead by knocking the ball away from Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins with 20 sec-

onds left. Colson teared up on the podium in Indianapolis, reflecting on her amazing college career. “Unbelievable,” she said. “Just all this team has gone through, all I’ve gone through personally with in ries and everything, and inju just having my coaches believe in me, having my teammates have my back, and helping me fight through the hard times and really helping me stay mentally strong when I was going through a lot of stuff. “I appreciate them so much, you know? And I love them like they’re my sisters. And I’m just so proud of — we got to play the last game of the season together and we got a win. And it’s just awesome. Schaefer, I love you. Coach Blair, I love you. I love you all, too. I’m so proud of the way we came out and battled and we stayed believing in one another and stayed believing in God and he pulled us through.”

Nonconference play The Aggies had only one blemish in nonconference play, a 61-58 loss at fifthranked Duke in the Jimmy V Classic. A&M shot only 33.8 percent from the game (22 of 65). Duke was worse, shooting only 30.9 percent (17 of 55). Duke had 11 more points at the free-throw line, hitting 21 of 30. Colson made only 1

of 7 shots and d ffouled out after 26 minutes. A&M opened with six victories, including over Arizona and Michigan in the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic. A&M won its last six games heading into league play. The Aggies crushed Purdue in the Big 12/Big 10 Challenge (100-55), blasted Rutgers in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden (79-50) and beat Drexel and San Diego State to win the Surf ‘N Slam Classic in San Diego.

Big 12 season

A&M opened with six straight victories, including a 60-51 win at 20th-ranked Iowa State, the program’s first victory in Ames, Iowa. That also snapped the Cyclones’ 19-game home winning streak. A&M also had an 80-65 victory at home against Texas, giving it nine straight victories over the Longhorns. A&M’s bid for the regularseason crown fizzled with a 63-60 loss at home to Baylor on Jan. 30 along with a 67-58 loss at Waco on Valentine’s Day. A&M saw nothing sweet in either game. In the home loss, Baylor freshman guard Odyssey Sims had 25 points and sophomore Griner added 17 points and 12 rebounds to end A&M’s 12-game winning streak. Baylor had an 11-0 run in the first half that put A&M on its heels. In Waco, White had a brilliant game, scoring a careerhigh 29 points, but Griner had 23 of her 26 points in the second half as the Lady Bears wiped out the nine-point A&M lead with 10:13 left. Other than White, the rest of the Aggies shot only 21.8 percent from the e ffield (12 of 55). A&M bounced back to complete a season sweeps of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas, but suffered a 7167 loss at unranked Kansas State as guard Brittany Chambers had 35 points. The Aggies settled for second in the league at 13-3, and after beating South rivals Texas and Oklahoma at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, settled for second to Baylor again when the Lady Bears rallied from a 12-0 deficit for a 61-58 victory. Adams missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, indicative of the game as A&M made only 1 of 14 3-pointers. Griner seldom missed as she had 31 points and eight rebounds.

NCAA tournament

A&M reached the Final Four with a 58-46 victory over Big 12 rival Baylor to win the Dallas Regional that got the Aggies over several humps. A&M had lost three

straight games earlier in the season to the Lady Bears, squandering leads each time, including a 12-0 run to start the Big 12 tournament championship. That also stretched A&M’s losing streak to eight against Baylor, which won the 2005 national championship in Indianapolis, but at the RCA Dome. In the Dallas Regional title game, the Aggies took the lead and never looked back. A&M’s shortest player, 5foot-6 Sydney Carter, came though with the biggest game of her life in her hometown, scoring 22 points before 11,508 fans at the American Airlines Center. The added scoring by Carter, who came in averaging 10.2 points per game, and a stifling defensive effort on All-American Griner propelled A&M to its first Final Four. Carter hit a 3-pointer to start the scoring and added a three-point play to cap an opening 12-2 Aggie run. Colson added 12 points, four assists and five steals. Her leadership also was invaluable against Baylor, which started only one senior who played 40 minutes for the first time in her career, as did Carter. Adams scored only six points, her sixth straight game to struggle offe of nsively against Baylor, but was a big factor in Griner making only 6 of 188 ffield goals. “The difference in the ballgame was guard play,” said Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, who won two national championships as a point guard at Louisiana Tech, “and the inability in the e ffirst half to capitalize on their foul trouble. “Brittney had great looks but couldn’t finish.” A&M easily dispatched of McNeese State (87-47), Rutgers (70-48) and Georgia (79-38) to earn another shot at Baylor. Defen ef se was the efen key as the Aggies allowed the opponents combined to shot only 30.8 percent from the field (53 of 172). Adams averaged 23 points in those games. McNeese State, Georgia and Baylor never led A&M, while Rutgers’ biggest lead was only two points. A&M’s victory over Stanford was a gem with nine lead changes and four ties. The Aggies couldn’t stop junior post Nnemkadi Ogwumike from Cy-Fair High School who had 31 points. But Stanford, last year’s runner-up making its 10th Final Four trip, couldn’t handle A&M’s pressure and had a season-high 22 points. Carter again played 40 minutes as every A&M starter played at least 32 minutes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Eagle •



Texas A&M Women's Basketball




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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Eagle photo by Stuar Stuart Villanueva ag including A&M athletics department staff members, had fun with signs and big mugshots of the players. Women’s Rowdies was on full displayy TTuesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as fans of all ages, The spirit of Texas A&M’ss W

Reed Rowdies needed women’s version — and got one By MATTHEW WATKINS

Paul Rogers saw the Reed Rowdies promote the Texas A&M men’s basketball team during his first two years as an Aggie. The student organization was helpful in creating a raucous atmosphere at the team’s home games. But there was no such group for the women’s team, which Rogers thought

needed the help even more. “People didn’t understand what a good product they were missing,” said Rogers, a junior at A&M. “Women’s basketball has been top notch at A&M for years, but the student support hasn’t been there to the extent that it should be.” So Rogers and three other fans formed the Women’s Rowdies. They planted signs to promote home games, gath-

ered to watch road games on TV and tried to create the best home-court advantage possible for the Aggies. They couldn’t have picked a better year to begin. In January, the group began wearing Women’s Rowdies T-shirts to games. After the game, the players were so excited that they asked how they could buy some for themselves and their family.

When the team played the nationally ranked Baylor, the Women’s Rowdies solicited donations to buy 12th Man towels for all the students at the game. And they made cardboard cutouts of the team’s players and coaches to wave during games. Those cutouts received significant air time during the team’s televised run through the NCAA tournament. When the Aggies won the

championship, Rogers was thrilled. “To me, the players are friends,” he said. “They all know my name and my wife’s name. It has been like watching my family succeed.” But the work is just beginning for Rogers. The national championship has brought an unprecedented level of excitement for Aggie women’s basketball. Thousands of people showed up at Reed Arena to

welcome the team home Wednesday. Rogers and the Women’s Rowdies hope to keep that excitement alive next year as their group grows from the faithful dozens to thousands. “Our main mission is to keep students excited about women’s basketball and coming to the games,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do during ing the offseason to basically be ready to accomplish that.”


to the Aggie Women’s Basketball Team on your win of the National Championship!


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Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

BLAIR: Facing Baylor for a fourth time didn’t frighten; it invigorated Continued from F3 healthy, fresh and we looked forward to going to Shreveport and going back to Dallas to have a chance at redeeming ourselves against Baylor. Where some schools did not want to face a conference foe in the finals, A&M embraced it because we knew o fface eventually we had to them in the regionall ffinals or at the Final Four. Our kids got better and better each tournament game, from blasting McNeese State in the opener — which was a confidence-builder – to beating Rutgers in a rematch with Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer, then demolishing Georgia, an SEC power, with friend and Hall of Fame coach Andy Landers. That set up the rematch with Baylor for all the marbles and bragging rights and a ticket to the big dance. That propelled us into the Final Four against three teams that had won a combined 10 National Championships. It was Texas A&M’s inaugural Final Four. We just felt like we had faced the best of the best already, so we thought we were as good as Connecticut, Stanford or Notre Dame. When you have that belief, the word can’t is not in your vocabulary. The word can is — what we live by every day. There is a saying above my TV in my office given to me by one of my former players from my days as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, and I try to live by it every day: “Today I gave all I have, what I kept I have lostt fforever.” We jumped at the opportunity to play Stanford, a twotime national champion making its fourth straight trip to the Final Four behind Hall of Fame coach Tara VanderVeer, who has won more than 800 games. It didn’t look good with us down by 10 points with six minutes left and senior point guard Sydney Colson sitting next to

“We just felt like we had faced the best of the best already, so we thought we were as good as Connecticut, Stanford or Notre Dame.. W When you have that belief, the word can't is not in your voca vocabula ry. The word can is — w what we live by every day.” ever Gary Blair Texas A&M head women’s basketball coach me on the bench, but there is an adage that says, “I think we got ‘em right where we want them.” And we did. Our kids made shot after shot, stop after stop, and we made the final play with Colson coming down on break and making the perfect pass to Tyra White, the team’s bestt ffinisher. Tyra hit the lay-up that put us in the title game. The lead-up to the championship game, with all the attention that Aggies all across the nation felt, was as fulfilling as the game itself. The TV sets that were turned on worldwide to see women’s basketball at its best was very rewarding, and it turned out to be one of the highest-rated games for women’s basketball. We started out like a house of fire, but cooled down with foul trouble and good play by Notre Dame. With the team down by two points at half, our coaching staff used the opportunity to teach in the locker room and make the corrections that were necessary to win the game. The last 20 minutes were perhaps the best 20 minutes of any final championship game that has been played in the 26 years of the NCAA Championships. Shot after shot was being delivered by our own Danielle Adams and by Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. And it all came down to the shot by Tyra with 2 seconds to go on the shot clock that was heard all

over the world. Tyra took the ball on the inbounds play and drilled the shot over Diggins’ outstretched arm, and the lead went from 70-68 to 73-68. As Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said, “That was the dagger that broke our heart.” To be able to see jubilation in the stands and our kids’ faces when we were able to empty our bench and honor those starters who had meant so much to us was a dream come true. But you do not have to have a degree from A&M to be in love with this little basketball team “that could.” We might not necessarily be America’s team like the Dallas Cowboys, but we are national champions. We will be very proud to wear our Aggie rings and national championship rings. I would be remiss in not thanking the fans who started with us eight years ago, when I was knocking door-todoor, and stuck with us through this season, when we regularly drew 6,000 to 7,000 to home games. The wins are great, but the growth in women’s basketball at A&M means just as much to me as the championship itself. Enjoy it while you can, and remember the work that “we” — the fans, the professors, the administration and the players — did to get there. Gary Blair has been coaching Gar the Texas Te A&M women’s basketball team since 2003.

Eagle file photo Karla Gilbert (left) and the Aggies had their troubles with Baylor’s 6-foot-8 All-American Brittney Griner (right), but rather than fear them, the Aggies showed up to Dallas for their Elite Eight showdown with the Lady Bears ready to win.

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F8 •

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Danielle Adams • F • Sr.

Kelsey Assarian • F • Jr.

Maryann Baker • G • Sr.

Kristi Bellock • F/G • So.

A consensus All-American who was the national championship’s MVP. She scored a school-record 40 points against KU.

First-team All-Big 12 academic selection who provided depth inside. She had valuable minutes in the semifinal victory over Stanford.

First-team All-Big 12 academic selection who also won the Big 12 Sixth Man Award. She was part of the most successful senior class in school history.

She earned valuable minutes this season and will be counted on for much more next season. She was the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana.

Kelsey Bone • C • So.

Sydney Carter • G • Jr.

Skylar Collins • G • Jr.

Sydney Colson • G • Sr.

She had to redshirt after transferring from South Carolina, but her efforts in practice against Danielle Adams were huge.

She made the Big 12 All-Defensive Team for her work against the other team’s best perimeter player, which was magnified in the postseason.

She’s one of the team’s top perimeter shooters and gave the Aggies a lift against 12th-ranked Oklahoma with a pair of 3-pointers.

Honorable mention All-America honors. She’s the been the face of the program for four seasons. She’s also been active in student organizations.

Adaora Elonu • F • Jr.

Karla Gilbert • C • Fr.

Kristen Grant • G • Fr. 1.0 ppg, gg, 0.6 rpg

Adrienne Pratcher • G • So. 2.4 ppg, 1.7 apg

Academic All-Big 12 Second Team who quietly had big rebounds and baskets in the team’s run to the title. She earned all-tourney honors last season.

She came off the bench to often help the Aggies slow down the other team’s top inside threat. She also became a better scorer as the season progressed.

The reserve guard broke two school records at Arlington Lamar High School. Her father played at San Jose State.

She gave the team valuable minutes when Sydney Colson was hurt or in foul trouble. She’s the heir apparent to taking Colson’s place.

Catherine Snow • G • Sr.

Tyra White • G • Jr.

Cierra Windham • F •So.

The team’s only walkon was an Academic All-Big second-team selection. She was able to play in the title game.

She hit two of the program’s biggest shots in the Final Four, scoring the game-winner against Stanford and then a 3-pointer that staggered Notre Dame.

She was an Academic All-Big 12 second-team selection. She can play guard or forward and is expected to play a big role next season.

pg, 8.5 rpg pg 22.3 ppg,


8.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg

0.0 ppg, 0.2 rpg

1.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg

10.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg

4.2 ppg, gg, 2.9 rpg

13.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg

4.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg

1.7 ppg, 0.6 rpg

0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg

1.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg

8.0 ppg, 6.1 apg

Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Head coach Gary Blair was in a playful mood after his Aggies won the national title. AP photo

Kelly Bond

Associate Head Coach

Vic Schaefer

Associate Head Coach

Johnnie Harris Assistant Coach

F10 •

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eagle file photos Left: Texas A&M’s Danielle Adams peeks around TCU’s Helena Sverrisdottir in the Aggies’ 91-66 victory over the Horned Frogs in December at Reed Arena. Adams had 33 points in 36 minutes on 12-of-19 shooting against TCU to get A&M to 8-1. Right: Adams splits Louisiana-Monroe defenders Larrie Williams (35) and Sannisha Williams (32) to score two of her 32 points in the Aggies’ 105-57 victory to wrap up nonconference play in January.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Eagle •

Texas A&M Women's Basketball

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

And for an encore? A&M program’s cupboard plenty full By DAVID CAMPBELL

When Texas A&M begins to defend its NCAA women’s basketball championship, the Aggies will have a different look. But defense is the one thing the Aggies always do Analysis well. The national perception has been slow to change toward the Aggies’ success. Many see the Aggies as a onehit wonder instead of a team built around a solid foundation. With Gary Blair’s program well in place, a strong returning cast couples with a highly rated recruiting class to indicate otherwise. Here are some things to look for in the future: Point guard — Sydney Carter could start next season at this position, but Carter is such a high-energy player the that Aggies might better be served if she plays a secondary role as ball-handler. would That match what she did this CARTER season, taking the point when needed. There will be other candidates to take the reins from Sydney Colson. While Adrienne Pratcher had PRA PRATCHER a tough time with Notre Dame in the championship game, much of what she showed during the course of the year indicates that she could be a worthy successor to Colson. Her game and size could make her a cross

The Staff Staff an andd Re Resi siden si dents ts of Wa Wate terc rcre rest st at Brya Bryan th that at in incl clud udes es Texas A&M Former Students, ts, ts Former Aggi Ag e Staff St and Aggi Ag e Fans

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Eagle photo by Stuar Stuart Villanueva A&M junior Adaora Elonu drives against Purdue defenders in December Te Texas ready at Reed Arena. Elonu’s role will expand in 2011-12, and she appears ready. between Colson and former Aggie sparkplug A’Quonesia Franklin. The backcourt should be strengthened by the addition of Alexia Standish of

Colleyville Heritage, considered the top point guard in Texas, and by Louisiana high school guard Tori Scott.

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Stuart Villanueva Eagle photo by Stuar Texas A&M’s Karla Gilbert practices at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 2. The former A&M Consolidated standout played in 37 of A&M’s 38 games this season, averaging 4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 11.5 minutes per game. Te

NEXT: Aggies will use Kelsey Bone, Karla Gilbert, Mitchell to replace Adams Continued from F12

Shooting guard — That “Silent Assassin” tag may have to be taken off Tyra White. People are going to want to talk with her often after her clutch performance in the NCAA tournament. A pure shooter, White took over more of the leadership role at critical portions of Af r a dramatic games. Afte improvement this season, there is a sense of anticipation about just how good White could be. Under even



the most high-pressure circumstances, she is never afraid to shoot. Forward — Adaora Elonu, the 6-foot-1 forward, seems to be on the edge of greatness, which she sometimes dis-

plays. Elonu averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds and has the experience of a starter. Center — Plugging in a replacement for a player as multi-talented and courtsavvy as Danielle Adams may prove to be impossible. AllAmerican basketball stars who are also selected Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four are rare gems. A&M’s post play could be by committee, but the Aggies will need high-back chairs for the committee meetings.

Kelsey Bone sat out last season after transferring from South Carolina, where she was the AP Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year with 14 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. A&M Consolidated’s 6-4 freshman Karla Gilbert saw playing time in key situations, but had foul trouble. The Aggies will have more fouls to give on theirr ffront line, though. A top recruiting class welcomes 6-7 Rachel Mitchell of Humble Atascocita, who will become A&M’s tallest player

The ever. frontcourt players are versatile, which gives the Aggies some flexibility in positioning them. MITCHELL There are other factors to consider for the Aggies: The schedule — As a national champion, Blair’s hand will likely be strengthened as far as bringing top teams to Reed Arena. But

A&M’s head coach has been good about doing that to this point, anyway. Throughout this past season, Blair insisted that challenging road games toughened his team. While the nonconf nce schedule may see confere some alterations, that attitude seems unlikely to change. Recruiting — Blair never missed an opportunity to promote his game and his basketball team at the Final Four. If

See BIG 12, Page F14

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Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

BIG 12: Baylor Lady Bears will still be a force in the Big 12 in 2011-12 season Continued from F13

Eagle photo by xxx Te Texas A&M guard Sydney Colson drives past Baylor center Brittney Griner during the second half of the Aggies’ 58-46 victory in the Elite Eight in Dalas. victor


recruiting for the Aggies can get better, he held the door wide open. Recruiting fans — Since the day he arrived in College Station, Blair has been asking for fans to give his team a chance. Many did, but some never noticed. If the fan base does not increase now, it probably never will. The Big 12 is changing — Colorado and Nebraska depart the conference. Those are the teams that finished 9th and 12th, respectively, in the regular season. Only Missouri and Nebraska failed to get an invite to either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. The departure of the Buffaloes and Cornhuskers will not hurt the strength of the conference, but it will alter the conference schedule. Baylor is not going away — Brittney Griner will be a junior and Odyssey Sims a sophomore, while Melissa Jones was the one senior who was a major contributor. The Big 12 regular season and tournament champions lost only two seniors, and Melissa Jones was the only one who played significant minutes. Both teams won their NCAA titles in Indianapolis, with the Lady Bears getting their title six years earlier than A&M. With national championship banners hanging in both Reed Arena and in the Ferrell Center, Texas 6 may be the road to a championship. As long as Connecticut and Tennessee continue to dislike one another from afar, Texas A&M against Baylor has a chance to become the top rivalry in women’s college basketball. Hall of Fame? — Gary Blair was a candidate for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame last year, but was not selected for induction. This year, when Blair’s name comes up again, his credentials will be far more impressive.

AP photo Baylor sophomore Brittney Griner shoots over Texas A&M’s Danielle Adams during the Aggies’ 58-46 victory in the Elite Eight at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on March 29. Griner averaged ag 23.5 points and 10 rebounds per game aged over four A&M-BU games this season, three of which the Lady Bears won. The Aggies have two more seasons of contending with the 6-foot-8 center.


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G1 •

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP


Eagle photo by Stuar Stuart Villanueva actice at Conseco Fi Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 2. The Aggies beat Stanford the next day to advance dv dvance to the national title game. Texas A&M's Tyra White passes the ball during practice Te

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

The perfect ad for A&M Players on the Texas A&M bench encourage age the ag team during the 63-62 victoryy over Stanford in the national semifinals April 3 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Reaching the Final Four ur helped put A&M’s name in the spotlight, but winning the national championship on one of college sports’ bigg stages biggest stag gave the Aggies and head coach Gary Blair an even bigger bigger chance to promote all A&M sports. Eagle photo Stuart Villanueva

Winning a women’s basketball championship helps broadcast strength of Aggie sports


ary Blair would have been smiling if he walked through the Indianapolis airport Wednesday. Texas A&M’s T-shirts were at the front on the cart hawking Final Four paraphernalia. The gobs of Notre Dame stuff was in the background. As Blair said before beating the Irish h ffor the women’s basketball championship Tuesday night, few remember who finishes second. He also said he’d like to walk through airports and see


Robert Cessna A&M items alongside the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and

Florida. The man who for eight seasons threw out candy before home games does more than talk the dream. He lives it, giving Aggies the sweetest treat possible, a national title. You can’t begin to measure what that means to the women’s basketball program, athletics in general at A&M, and even the college itself. elf elf. ESPN’s telecast averaged 3.8 million viewers, which was higher than last year’s 3.5 million who saw

Connecticut win its second straight title by beating Stanford. That was a lot of folks, some for the first time seeing Texas A&M put its best foot forward. The Aggies became the best feel-good story with each victory in the NCAA tournament. The players become stars. Sure Danielle Adams was an AllAmerican beforehand, but she showed why. And the nation also learned her story, about having to attend junior college, but making the most out of it to become the player

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of the year. Then she repeated the process at A&M, each season losing 40 pounds to get in the shape needed to be successful, but never losing the humbleness that made her a great teammate. The team’s other starters — senior point guard Sydney Colson, junior guard Sydney Carter, junior forward Adaora Elonu and junior wing Tyra White, along with sixth man Maryann Baker — had equally compelling stories. Colson was the face of the program, a striking,

vibrant young woman who has CEO written all over her dynamic personality. The 5foot-6 Carter talked softly, but played bigger. White was the smiling, quiet assassin, who had a knack for big shots. Elonu got the big rebounds and buckets that were needed, but never noticed. And Baker was a leader on the court, and an even bigger one off it. Most of all, they were just great student-athletes representing

See CESSNA, Page G3

Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

CESSNA: Blair’s media savvy turned into promotional campaign for all sports A&M to the best of their abilities. It also was a g great three weeks for associate head coach Vic Schaefer, who gave the nation a g glimpse of one of the country’s best defensive minds at work. He has an uncanny gift for making players give their all play after play, game after game. And then there’s Blair. The Final Four was made for him. He had the national media buzzing. One writer became so charmed by Blair that he was rooting for the Aggies to win, because if Notre Dame had won, his story would have been killed in exchange for an article about the Irish. “This is just too good a story,” he said. It was, and Blair had plenty to do with it. He’s maybe the greatest coaching ambassador the school has had. He started plugging athletics director Bill Byrne and the success of A&M’s other sports in the first- and second-round games in Shreveport, gave his if Notes version of how iffs Cliffs great the program was at the Dallas Regional, then gave a mini thesis at the Final Four of how there are few places more electrifying to be than Aggieland. The key was people listened. “Evidently, A&M is pretty good in a lot of sports,” I overheard one national writer telling another after drinking the Blair Kool-Aid. “They’ve won national championships in golf, equestrian, softball and a couple in track. I’m going to write about that in tomorrow’s paper.” You could argue that the guy was clueless. A&M, of course, is great in a ton of sports — sixth last season in the NCAA Division I Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup that rates the Top 10 women’s and men’s programs at each school. But until A&M has success in the major sports — ffootball, basketball and baseball — it will fly under the radar when some people talk about the nation’s best collegiate programs. But with the nation’s best

Continued from G2

• • • • • •


Tuesday’s victory by the women’s basketball team is the latest in a string of national titles for A&M: 2009 men’s golf 2009 men’s and women’s outdoor track & field 2009 equestrian western 2010 men’s and women’s outdoor track & field 2010 equestrian western 2011 women’s basketball

women’s basketball writers doing stories on Texas A&M, along with almost twice as many viewers watching the outcome as those who saw

South Carolina beat UCLA to win the College World Series last season, the Aggies are winning over fans. So, forget that when the confetti dropped from the rafters it was blue and gold, which strangely matched Notre Dame’s colors. Considering the economy, it probably was the cheapest the NCAA could find since it was Indiana. And yes, it did seem that ESPN wanted a StanfordUConn rematch, and then once that fizzled, jumped on the Irish bandwagon. And maybe some of the network’s personalities didn’t warm up

to A&M, but that’s their prerogative. None of that matters now. The championship hardware came home on the Aggies’ charter. This could be the start of something bigger. That would be great, but the only thing that matters is that this remarkable team is the nation’s best. And many of us have the Tshirt to prove it, but more importantly, others will be buying them, some at airports. addr Robert Cessna’s email address is

Stuart Villanueva Eagle photos by Stuar A&M junior Skylar Collins (top left) and associate head coach Vic Te Texas questions Monday from members of the national Schaefer (above) answer ans media covering the championship game in Indianapolis.

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Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Loyal fans bask in fun Aggie women ranked 12th in attendance By MATTHEW WATKINS

Eagle file photo Aggie fans show their appreciation for the Texas A&M women’s basketball team on Senior Day at Reed Arena on March 5. The Aggies beat Nebraska 84-49 gular season at 25-4. behind senior Danielle Adams’ 23 points to end the regular

As the 2008-09 Texas A&M women’s basketball team was making its way through a top 10 season, Jack and Peggy Thornton couldn’t understand why more people weren’t showing up to games. Even their grandson, a huge sports fan and Aggie student, didn’t seem interested. “He said they aren’t exciting,” Jack Thornton said. So he and his wife wrote a letter to The Eagle with a suggestion. “The Corps marches to the football games to show its support for the football team,” they wrote. “Why not show the same support for our nationally ranked girls basketball team?” On Wednesday, a day after that team won the national championship, the Thorntons penned another letter to The Eagle. This one had only one Eagle sentence and proclaimed their love for the Aggies’ coach. “Gary Blair for president,” it said. A&M’s victory on Tuesday was an exciting moment for many Aggie fans, but it was especially sweet for the smaller group that has closely followed the team all year. Many of those devoted Aggies are simply avid fans — they attend as many sporting events as they can. Others feel a special connection with this team, and especially its coach. “We like the way they hustle and the camaraderie of the team and we like Coach Blair,” Thornton said. “We think he is a class act.” A large portion of them are older, causing Blair to nickname them “the white hairs, the no hairs and the blue hairs.” And the group is growing. During the 2010-11 season, A&M had the 12th-highest


The Aggie women’s basketball team averaged 6,104 fans per game this season, up 18 percent. average attendance for women’s basketball games, 6,104. That number was an 18 percent increase over the previous year. The team also had its first sellout of Reed Arena, when 13,169 people attended the game against Baylor. According to numbers released by the NCAA, A&M had the 12th-highest average attendance for women’s basketball games, up from 15th the prior season. “They are coming out to see us now,” Blair said. “That is so special.” Athletic Director Bill Byrne on Wednesday said that when he arrived at A&M in 2003, the women’s games only had “a couple hundred close friends and family” in the stands. Byrne attributed the change to Blair — the first coach Byrne hired. “He has done a remarkable

job,” Byrne said. Blair has increased attendance two ways: He has won, and he has been the top salesman for the program. He hosted seven luncheons for fans during the season, and evangelizes the team almost everywhere he goes. That included a victory celebration on Wednesday, when about half of Reed Arena was filled on short notice. Fans were repeatedly reminded that season tickets for next season were already on sale. “To me, you are all potential season ticket holders,” Blair told the crowd. The Thorntons weren’t at the celebration because they don’t like to be in big crowds — something they haven’t had to worry about at previous games. But with the national championship, they know they’ll likely have to contend with larger crowds next year. For this team, they are willing to do that. “I think we are going to go ahead and buy season tickets,” Jack Thornton said.

icence plates were among the estimated 5,000 people who welcomed back the To Aggie fans armed with celebratory licence Top: national championship women’s basketball team at Reed Arena on Wednesday. Bottom: Texas A&M coach Gary Blair lair leads his team through a throng of fans at the Omni Hotel in Indianapolis on Tuesday before facing Notre Dame in the national title ga game.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Eagle file photo Te Texas A&M’ss A A’Quoneshia Franklin gets a hug from head coach Gary Blair as the Aggies wrap up a 67-60 victory over ver Texas in 2007 to clinch the regular-season Big 12 championship. Te

This one had to happen Longtime Blair supporters knew coach could win title By RICHARD CROOME

The general consensus among those who know Texas A&M women’s basketball coach Gary Blair best is winning a national title had to happen sooner or later. And it likely was going to be sooner once he arrived in Aggieland. “From the day he took the job at Texas A&M I knew he would win one, if not multiple, NCAA titles,” said Mike Neighbors, an assistant coach at Xavier who was Blair’s director of operations at Arkansas from 1999-2002.

Blair took the job before the 2003-04 season at A&M and with each year moved closer to building a championship team, reaching the Elite 8 in 2008. “I think he knew he had the proper staff in place to be successful,” said Amy Wright, an assistant coach for Cleveland State, who was the point guard for Blair at the same time Neighbors was at Arkansas. “His biggest challenge, as it is to any head coach, was to keep them together long enough to win, something not only a great coach must do with players, but also with a staff.”

Hard work

One of the pieces to that puzzle was another point guard, A’Quonesia Franklin, who was part of Blair’s first recruiting class at A&M. Franklin is now an assistant at Stephen F. Austin, which is where Blair started his college head coaching career in 1985. “There was no doubt in my mind that this day would one day come,” Franklin said. “Every year the program seems to grow and accomplish goals. As a player you




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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Stuart Villanueva Eagle photo by Stuar Associate head coach Vic Schaefer (center) runs a drill as Danielle Adams (front row of players yers from left), Ty Tyra White, Sydney Carter and Kristi Bellock race to a loose ball at practice April 1 at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

REACTION: Blair, assistant Schaefer have way of motivating, preparing players Continued from G5

are pushed to your max each and every day to be a better player than the day before and as a result, all of the hard work has paid off.” Blair had plenty of coaches pulling for him while in Indianapolis, including Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson, who had a fflower arrangement waiting in

Blair’s hotel room when he arrived. It was those who have worked under Blair, even as far back as 20 years ago, who were pulling hardest, though. “If anybody deserves to win a national championship, it is Coach Blair,” said Arkansas director of operations Amber Nicholas Shirey. “He has poured so much of his life into the game and given back so

much. He truly deserves it.” Blair took a No. 9 seed Arkansas Lady Razorbacks to the Final Four in 1998, losing 86-58 to eventual champion Tennessee. The Cinderella Lady Razorbacks were the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four. “Of course, he took it hard, but nobody expected us to be there in the first place, so I

think he was happy in that regard,” Shirey said. “But I know it hurt to be that close and not get the ultimate prize.” The idea of getting back to the Final Four and completing the job has been foremost on Blair’s mind since that day, beginning with the 199899 season. “Let’s just say my name wasn’t Amy until I was a jun-

ior at Arkansas. I was referred to as Christy [Smith, point guard for the Final Four team] on a daily basis,” said Wright, who ran the show as a ffreshman for the Razorback team that won the WNIT in 1999. “It taught ug me to be humught ble and understand the man had been there before. All he wanted was to go back. I am happy for him, he found a team and staff that could lead

him back and to a championship.”

Boost to Big 12

An integral part of that staff includes associate head coach Vic Schaefer, who masterminds the defense that put the Aggies among the elite in the Big 12 and now in the nation.

See BOOST, Page G7

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Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

BOOST: A&M’s national championship offers display of Big 12’s strength Continued from G6

Schaefer came to A&M from Arkansas with Blair in 2003, after having been with the Razorbackss ffor six years. “I have been in the film room with Vic and seen the preparation that goes into their game plan,” said Neighbors. “I sat on opposite benches while at Tulsa and Colorado and I am glad some others have had to experience it.” A&M has consistently been among the top three in scoring defense and field goal percentage since Schaefer and Blair arrived at A&M and this past season was the only Big 12 team to force more than 20 turnovers a game at 22. “Until you play A&M courtside, you can’t understand the physicality, athleticism and pressure that you are about to endure,” said Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry, who was an assistant for Blair at Stephen F. Austin and also was an assistant at Texas A&M from 1994-96. “I think when you watch on film and you play against socalled pressure in other leagues, you have no idea until you experience it [against A&M] firsthand,” Curry said. “The run they just made through the tourney verifies that fact.” Three of A&M’s losses were to Baylor, but the Aggies ended an eight-game losing streak to the Lady Bears in the Dallas Regional title game. “It shows the competitiveness of our league top to bottom and demonstrates that our league has national championship caliber teams year in and year out,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who was a point guard at Louisiana Tech, while Blair was an assistant there. In 2005, Mulkey’s Baylor Lady Bears also cut down the nets in Indianapolis after defeating Michigan State. Texas Tech won in 1993, beating Ohio State and Texas topped perennial power USC in 1986. All four Texas teams won it all the first time they made the Final Four.

AP file photo By providing competition on the highest level in women’s basketball, Kim Mulkey’s Baylor Lady Bears arguably helped Texas A&M become good enough to win a national title. And Mulkey and Baylor are poised for more great seasons. Te

AP file photo Tech women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry knows how important Texas Te Texas A&M’s title is — and not just to A&M. The championship gives the state four A&M’ schools with women’s basketball titles: A&M, Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor.

AP file photo Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale talks to her players during practice in preparation of the Sooners’ Sweet 16 game against Notre Dame last month. Coale has built OU into a perennial contender to reach the Final Four. “It means so much from a credibility standpointt ffor the Big 12 and also to the state of Texas,” Curry said. “A&M puts an exclamation mark on the state of Texas women’s basketball national championship trophy case. Not many states can boast that all four major state institutions have

won a national championship. It’s something that every girls’ basketball coach in Texas can be proud of at any level.” Blair, 65, is under contract for five more seasons at A&M. Those close to Blair, whose record is 596-242, know winning a national championship

is not going to slow down the head college coach of 26 years. “The only way he retires is if he can get his handicap below two and joins the PGA Senior Tour,” said Neighbors. “Don’t think for one second that just because he has one that he won’t want No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4.”

AP photo Te Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors (left) talks with her team during its first round game against Marquette in the NCAA tournament. Goestenkors left Duke for Austin to try to rebuild UT to the level of its glory years.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

The road to the title 87






The Aggies dominated Arkansas-Little Rock in the paint behind Danielle Adams’ 24 points and 10 rebounds in the opener.

Adams scored ed 17 points and Adaora Elonu scored 14 as the Aggies wrapped up their stay in Mexico.

Adams eclipsed her career high with 33 points, while Colson had 10 points and tied a career-high with 11 assists.

105 57

Adams scored 32 points and White had a career-high 22 as A&M finished nonconference play vs. Louisiana-Monroe.









Adams had a career-high scoring game again with 34 points and 12 rebounds in A&M’s 10th straight victory.

A&M beat Texas Tech with a 20-6 20-6 run in the second half, which included 12 of Adams’ 26 points.

A&M went on an 11-0 run n in i the he later stages of the second half to break open a tie game against Oklahoma State.

Adams’ 23 points and eight rebounds and Colson’s 15 assists were plenty as A&M finished second in the Big 12.

















Adams had 26 points and 10 rebounds bounds and Tyra White added 16 for A&M, which outrebounded Rice 54-27 in Houston.

Adams and White led the way again as the Aggies held off California’s secondhalf run.

Adams recorded another double-double vs. Rutgers in New York. Sydney Carter added 18 points and White had 15.

A&M led by 28 points at halftime and cruised past Colorado in its Big 12 opener.

A&M handed Iowa State its first home loss in 20 games. It was the Aggies’ first victory in Ames.

The Aggies finished a series sweep against the Sooners behind Adams’ 30 points and 13 rebounds.

Adams scored ed 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Aggies beat the Red Raiders for the second time.

Adams, White and Colson were the stars for A&M in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal victory in Kansas City City, Mo.





100 55

























A&M starting ting point guard d Sydney Sydney Colson played against Liberty after missing the first two games with a ffoot injury.

Duke’s Jasmine Thomas scored ed late, helping the Blue Devils hand the Aggies their first loss of the season.

A&M looked anything but rusty while beating Drexel in San Diego after a nine-day layoff.

Maryann Baker scored a career-high 21 points and White had a double-double as A&M beat Oklahoma State on the road.

Adams tallied 31 points, including the decisive free throws with 7.6 seconds left, in a road victory over Oklahoma.

Adams kept up her torrid pace, scoring a school-record 40 points in an easy home victory over Kansas.

The Aggies picked up their 10th straight victory over the Longhorns by holding off a furious Texas rally late in Austin.

Car scored a season-best 19 points, Carter helping the Aggies earn a rematch with Baylor in the Big 12 tournament final.



White scored ed 13 of her 20 points in the second half against Arizona in the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic

Adams tied a career high with 27 points as the Aggies ran away from Purdue in the first half.

A&M led 54-14, held San Diego State to 4-of-26 shooting and forced 20 turnovers in the first half.

The Aggies missed their first five shots at Missouri before going on a 25-4 run to pull away.

Baylor’s Odyssey Sims and Brittney Griner teamed up at Reed Arena to snap A&M’s 12-game winning streak.

White’s career-high 29 points aren’t enough to push A&M past top-ranked Baylor in Waco.

Colson’s career-high eer-high 21 points were overshadowed by Kansas State’s Brittany Chambers, who scored 35 and hit 7 3s.

Baylor won the Big 12 tournament, beating A&M for the third time behind Griner’s 31 points and eight rebounds.

Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

NCAA Tournament 87 47

70 48

Adams (pictur (pictured) ed) scored ed 18 points to help the second-seeded Aggies cruise past 15th-seeded McNeese State in the first round of the Dallas Regional in Shreveport, La. Kelsey Assarian and White each added 12 points for A&M, which raced to a 22-3 lead.

Adams scored ed early and often, fr from inside and out, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a dominating performance that helped Gary Blair (pictured) and the Aggies beat Rutgers again and secure a spot in the Sweet 16 after losing in the second round in the 2010 tournament.

58 46

79 38 A&M built a 31-point 31-point halftime lead and extended it in the second half, beating sixth-seeded Georgia and earning a spot in the Dallas Regional final against nemesis Baylor while clinching its first 30-win season.

(pictured ed right, with Baker) Car (pictur Carter helped A&M advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history, scoring 22 points as the Aggies beat the Baylor Lady Bears for the first time in nine tries.

The 41-point victory was the most lopsided NCAA tournament win in school historyy ffor A&M, and Georgia’s 38 points were the secondfewest in regional history.

The Aggies led from start to finish after Carter had a 3-pointer, an assist and a jumper in the game’s first two minutes for a 7-0 lead. Colson added 12 points for A&M, which kept Griner in check (20 points) after she scored 40 in No. 1 seed Baylor’s previous game.

Adams had 23 points and a careerhigh 14 rebounds for the Aggies, who led 13-0 and were up 27-2 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half. White added 14 points and Colson (pictured) chipped in 11.

63 62

Blair advanced to the Final Four for the second time in his career (Arkansas, 1998).

Colson drove the length of the floor and found a cutting White (pictured) for a layup with 3.3 seconds left to give A&M a thrilling victory over Stanford in the national semifinals.

Adams scored 22 of her 30 points in the second half, lifting the Aggies to their first national championship with a stirring victory over Notre Dame.

Colson, who woozily went to the bench after a hard screen earlier in the half, gave A&M a 59-58 lead by making two free throws with 53 seconds left. After two Stanford free throws, White scored with 19 seconds to go, only to have Stanford regain the lead with nine seconds left. That’s when Colson and White teamed up for the winner.

White added 18 points, including a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put the Aggies up 73-68 with 1:07 left. She and her teammates then staved off a final, frantic push by the Irish.

76 70

After the Aggies trailed 48-43 in the second half, Adams simply took over.

G10 •

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Eagle file photos Left: Texas A&M’ss TTyra White shoots over Oklahoma’s Whitney Hand (left) and Jasmine Hartman at Reed Arena in early February. White had seven points in the 92-71 victory for the Aggies. Right: A&M’s Sydney Colson goes up for a shot against ainst California’ss TTalia Caldwell at Reed Arena in December. Colson had eight points and 10 assists in A&M’s 74-58 victory too gget to 6-0.

St. Joseph Catholic School Congratulates Texas A&M Ladies Basketball on their tremendous success at Nationals. Whoop!



s n o i t a l u t Congra Coach Gary Blair

“Great job, Aggies! Your heart and intensity teach our team so much! Coach Blair and Laddy Aggies - thank you for making us proud!” Coach Okonski - Varsity Coach “Great season Carter, keep up the good work. All the way, Ags!” Marianne Damian “Great job Sydney Colson! Take ‘em to the championship!” Kelsey Coneley “Great season Danielle! Gig ‘em!” Mackenzie Schmitz “Excellent season ladies! Make us proud! We love y’all! Gig ‘em!” Caitlin Morrow “I’m so proud of the Lady Aggies! I admire their positive attitudes and amazing teamwork. Coach Blair and the Lady Aggies are great role models for all girls basketball teams.” Anna Walker “W to go Ags!! Huge inspiration to everybody and we are proud of y’all!” “Way Hannah Watt “Incredible season! I am always impressed with you ags! You’re an inspiration to basketball teams everywher.” Claire Simmons “When it came down to it, the world saw who the true Big 12 Champions are! Aggies over Bears! Whoop!” Ellie Lipscomb

and the National Champion Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Team from everyone at

The Eagle •


Texas A&M Women's Basketball

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

G12 •

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Chicken ic icken



AP photo Te Texas A&M’s Sydney Colson (from left), Sydney Carter and Danielle Adams celebrate after beating Baylor 58-46 in the Elite Eight on March 29 in Dallas. The Aggies were 0-3 against the Lady Bears this season entering that game.

Thanks for the ride

Congr Congratula tes Our Aggie Women’s Basketball Team am as The 2011 NCAA AA National Champions!

Aggies took us on an incredible journey


h, by the way, one last thing to Gary Blair, his players, his assistants, and all the support personnel. Thanks. Thanks for giving us a season that we’ll never forget. We’re all proud to say that the women’s national basketball champions live here. What an accomplishment. I knew when Blair was hired he would build a good program. He was a proven winner. But a national championship? I didn’t think so. Sure, it was possible, anything is possible in this great country. We see it time after time. But what we witnessed just doesn’t happen. You don’t take over a pro-


Robert Cessna gram that’s dead last in the Big 12 and eight seasons later win a national title in a season where you beat six programs that have won national championships led by Baylor, Stanford and Notre Dame, which were A&M’s last three victories.

That’s part of what makes this championship so special. It just didn’t seem possible. When Blair was hired, Connecticut was in the midst of winning three of four national titles. That came on the heels of Purdue ending a three-year reign by Tennessee, a program that kicked the words right out of Blair’s mouth when he was in Arkansas. In the Big 12, Baylor was getting ready to soar behind coach Kim Mulkey who seemed wise to turn down A&M when she was an assistant at Louisiana Tech. Mulkey had some epic battles with Oklahoma and

See THANKS, Page G13

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Sunday, April 10, 2011 •


Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Eagle photo by Stuar Stuart Villanueva Danielle Adams gets a hug after scoring 30 points in the national championship game Tuesday night. It was the second-most points scored by an individual in the women’s title game.

THANKS: Blair hasn’t rested in recruiting, constantly building team into power Continued from G12

Sherri Coale as they battled for league supremacy. And Blair was going to make A&M rise above all of that? He did it one player, one fan, one victory at a time. Before current point guard

Sydney Colson, it was A’Quonesia Franklin. Before junior wing Tyra White, it was Takia Starks. Befor ef e junefor iorr fforward Adaora Elonu, it was Morenike Aturnase. The list goes on and on. Blair has constantly upgraded the talent, but one thing

has remained constant. He gets the most out of his players or, as he says, “We coach ’em up.” But his players have been willing to pay the price. Lenka Zimova, a junior college transfer helped win a big game at Texas Tech in 2007.

She’s already forgotten by most, but not Blair. That’s why you always see hiss fformer players at games. He’s still thanking the girls from Dallas South Oak Cliff High School that helped him win three state titles to get his career going. He still has

friends from eight seasons at Stephen F. Austin and 10 at Arkansas. They are Blair’s players for life. He treats fans the same way. They are part of the success story. Blair wants to surround himself with winners, but if you enter his circle —

be prepared to work. That goes for players, fans, trainers, assistants and even the media who cover him. Blair thanked the media for covering him at the Dallas Regional, then invited

See CESSNA, Page G14

G14 •

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Sunday, April 10, 2011

AP photo Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair celebrates with team mascot Reveille VIII over the national championship trophy after beating Notre Dame on Tuesday in Indianapolis. Te

CESSNA: Blair about as easy a coach to deal with as there is for the media Continued from G13

them across the street for a refreshment. It’s hard not to root for a guy like that. “Congratulations, coach,” I told him the other day. “Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t rip you next year.” Blair laughed, and said no problem, because he’s one of the few coaches who understands the role of the media. He knows how special it was for me professionally to document the team’s accomplishments. He’s a journalist’s dream. So are his players who have character higher than their playing ability. So their season-ending story wrote itself. Yet when the team slipped up against Duke and Baylor three times, the stories, like the outcome weren’t flattering. Blair had built his third program to the brink of greatness, but would he get over the hump? He seemed confident it was only a matter of when, not if. Yet Blair had to know if Baylor won the regional championship, the stories wouldn’t have been kind. He might have been surprised to be placed in Baylor’s region, but it never showed. He and his team embraced the challenge and made a beeline to Dallas where they cut down the nets, then headed to Indianapolis where he allowed thousands of people to mentally climb that ladder with him and cut down the nets forr a ffinal time. I just have one word for the

AP photo ans a question from Gary Blair answers the media April 4 in Indianapolis. Bryan-College Station’s most talkative man and his team: Thanks. • A&M women’s basketball had a dry spell before Blair arrived, but there’s a lot of former players and coaches who have to be beaming. How about Kay Don, the first coach who was 24-9 in 1974-75? I’m old enough to remember her, classy lady. Or Wander Bander who followed her. She and her husband also coached at Snook. Lynn Hickey was here for a decade, having a solid program, which wasn’t easy when Texas and Texas Tech were dominant. Hickey was 23-8 in her last season, reaching the school’s first Sweet 16. She was another asset to the program. They all can share in this, along with their players. Blair wouldn’t have it any other way. Robert Cessna’s e-mail address addr is

AP photo Te A&M fans and former players hold up a sign after the Aggies beat Baylor 58-46 in the Elite Eight on March 29 in Dallas to earn the program’s first berth Texas into the Final Four. The Aggies has lost three straight times to Baylor before that game.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

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Texas A&M Women's Basketball

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Texas A&M women's basketball champions  
Texas A&M women's basketball champions  

The Eagle's special section on the NCAA champions basketball team