Oct. 5, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss head coach Joye Lee-McNelis welcomes five newcomers, a redshirt freshman and five returnees to the floor on Wednesday when the Lady Eagles began their first practice of the season in Reed Green Coliseum from 8-10 p.m.
For the second-straight season, the team will take advantage of NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168, which states that a women's basketball program may begin practice on the date that is 40 days prior to the date of the institution's first regular-season contest.
Southern Miss returns three starters and only five letterwinners from the last year's team that finished the season 10-20 last year. Senior Rachel Vigers and sophomores Jamierra Faulkner and Niesha Pierce are the returning starters from last season along with junior Danielle Johnson. Senior Ewa Urbanowska rounds out the remaining letterwinners. Redshirt freshman Nitesha Pierce spent last season recovering from a torn ACL she sustained in the 2010 Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game.
Five newcomers will don the black and gold for the first time this season -Tanecka Carey, Ance Celmina, Hannah Fletcher, Wendy Miller and Sedreka Plummer. This group brings talent and excitement to the court and will be counted on to make an impact in their first season.
"We are excited about getting started today," McNelis said. "We have a lot to teach and we are anxious to get started. We are going to hit the ground running and this time around, we will have a relatively healthy group. We spent a lot of time in preseason getting fit and working on skill development."
Southern Miss will play an exhibition game on Nov. 7 against West Alabama at 7 p.m., before opening the regular season on Nov. 14 at home against William Carey in a 7 p.m., start.