Opponent: Hawaii (Sunday, Nov. 10/3:00 p.m.)
Location: Rolle Activity Center - Flagstaff, Ariz.
Live Stats: www.nauathletics.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's basketball team opens its 2013-14 season and year two of the Sue Darling era on Sunday versus Hawaii. It will be the first time the Lumberjacks will play their season opener at home since the 2007-08 season. NAU will begin its season versus Hawaii for the second time in school history after it opened its 2000-01 season versus the Rainbow Wahine in Honolulu.
The Lumberjacks are coming off an 8-21 season in which they posted a 7-13 record in Big Sky play in Darling's first season in charge of NAU's women's basketball program. Darling almost guided the Lumberjacks to their first Big Sky Championship tournament appearance since 2008-09 as they finished just one spot out of qualifying. With a young roster headlined by three returners - senior Amanda Frost and juniors Raven Anderson and Erikka Banks - this year's Lumberjacks want nothing more than to prove everyone wrong after being voted 10th in the Big Sky preseason polls by both the coaches and media.
Series History: After Hawaii claimed the first seven all-time meetings, the Lumberjacks snapped their skid and picked up their first victory over the Rainbow Wahine back in the teams' last meeting. NAU defeated Hawaii, 61-58, in its first game of the Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz. on Dec. 6, 2008.
NAU last hosted Hawaii during the 1981-82 season. The two teams played on back-to-back nights with Hawaii picking up victories in both games, 65-58 and 85-66. Those are the only two meetings between the two teams in Flagstaff to date.
TV Coverage: Saturday's game will be televised by NAU-TV and shown live on Fox Sports Arizona. Fox College Sports Pacific will pick up the game in progress. The game will be shown live locally in Flagstaff on Suddenlink cable Channel 4 and online on the NAU-TV live web stream.
Coach Sue Darling Quote for the Week: "We're excited to play on Sunday. The first game is a huge game and we've been practicing for a long time. We want to approach Sunday in a focused manner. Hawaii is a really solid team and they're real experienced. They're a little more seasoned than we are, so it's going to be a really good test for us and I'm excited for it."
About Hawaii (17-14, 13-5 Big West in 2012-13): Hawaii returns an experienced team with nine letterwinners from a squad that finished in a tie for second in the Big West last season. The Rainbow Wahine advanced to the postseason for the first time in 10 seasons, making an appearance in the WNIT, and tallied their first winning record since the 2006-07 season. Hawaii will begin its season at Arizona State on Saturday prior to making the trip north to Flagstaff on Sunday.
Among the team's nine returning letterwinners is senior Kamilah Jackson, who led the team with 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game propelling her to All-Big West first team honors. The Rainbow Wahine also bring back senior Shawna-Lei Kuehu, the Big West's Sixth Player of the Year, senior Sydney Haydel, the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and junior Ashleigh Karaitiana, who earned Big West honorable mention honors and was selected to the conference all-freshman team.
Let's Start the Season Right: The Lumberjacks hope to start the season with a victory on Sunday, something they have not been able to do in the five years. Last season's 68-57 loss to New Mexico in Albuquerque marked the fifth consecutive season-opening defeat for NAU. The Lumberjacks last began their season with a victory in 2007 when they defeated UT Arlington, 64-50. That is coincidentally the last time the Lumberjacks opened the season at home.
Limited Experience: The Lumberjacks have just three players on roster that have worn the NAU blue and gold. All three of them - Frost, Anderson and Banks, have spent the last two seasons in Flagstaff and account for all six years of the team's experience at Northern Arizona University.
Young and Fresh(men): With just three returners from last year's team, Darling has a lot of fresh faces to incorporate into her program in 2012-13. The Lumberjacks welcome in a newcomer class of 10 players with eight of them heading into their first collegiate seasons. The incoming crop of new Lumberjacks stretches far and wide as they come from out west (California, Oregon) to the Rocky Mountains (Colorado) to the Midwest (Kansas) and overseas (Bulgaria) in addition to in the state of Arizona.
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