WEDNESDAY, MARCH 07, 2001
Women's Hoops Heads To Orlando For TAAC Tournament

March 7, 2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

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Head Coach Melissa Taketa

The only head coach in the history of women's basketball at JU, Melissa Taketa enters her third year and second season at the helm of the Dolphin program.

In just two seasons in Jacksonville, Taketa has molded the Dolphins from a club that had never played an organized basketball game to a fourth-placed team that finished its second year with a 9-9 mark in conference play. She also helped Angela Walker (3rd Team) and Lexie Richards (All-Freshman) earn All-TAAC honors during JU's inaugural season and Kat Sungy earn first-team all-conference honors in 2000-01.

Prior to her arrival in Jacksonville, Taketa spent the previous 10 seasons at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where she set the school record for wins in a career with 140.

Her 1994-95 squad tied a Pacific record with 20 wins (20-15) and advanced to the postseason for the first time in school history with an invitation to the WNIT. Taketa earned Northern California College Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1995 as she guided the Tigers to the title game of the Big West Tournament in 1995 and 1996.

Taketa In The Post Season

While the Dolphins are making just their second appearance in post-season play, head coach Melissa Taketa is no stranger to playing in mid-March.

As head coach at the University of the Pacific from 1988-98, Taketa led her club to the post season on every season with the Tigers and recorded a 7-11 record in the Big West Conference Tournament. She led Pacific to back-to-back Tournament Championship games in 1995 and 1996 and helped the Tigers earn a spot in the WNIT in 1995 where they faced national-powers Notre Dame, Clemson and Virginia Commonwealth.

The Staff

Joining Melissa Taketa on the JU women's hoops staff is one familiar face in Melanee Wagener Atkinson and two new ones in Ernest Rozier and Marlene Stollings.

Atkinson was Taketa's first hire in 1998 and serves as JU's top assistant and recruiting coordinator. Atkinson, who was associate head coach at American before coming to JU, works with the Dolphin frontcourt. A four-year letterwinner at Virginia, Atkinson helped the Cavaliers to the NCAA Final Four in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Rozier came to the Dolphin program after one season as an assistant at TAAC foe Samford University where he helped the Bulldogs to a 19-10 mark and a third-place finish in the conference race last season. Rozier, who played collegiately at Anoka Ramsy (Minn.) Community College and St. Leo's, works with the Dolphin guards.

Stollings, who was hired in early October, came to JU after a standout collegiate career where she played two seasons at Ohio State before transferring to Ohio University where she completed her eligibility. Stollings, who ranked ninth in the nation in scoring and earned first-team All-MAC honors as a senior in 1998, also stands as the all-time leading scorer in the history of Ohio high school basketball with 3,514 points.

The Series

Tonight's game vs. Troy State marks the fifth game between JU and the Lady Trojans with the series being tied at two games a piece. This season, JU defeated Troy State 63-46 in Troy, Ala. on Jan. 27, and 63-46 in Jacksonville, Fla. on Feb. 8. Last season, the Dolphins lost both games to Troy State, falling 74-62 in Troy on Jan. 20 and 63-54 in Jacksonville on Feb. 12.

What A Difference A Year Makes

In just its second season of intercollegiate play, JU went from going 6-22 and a ninth-place finish in the TAAC in 1999-2000 to a 13-14 season and a 9-9 league record.

The 7-game turnaround, including a four-game improvement in conference action, helped the Dolphins finish fourth in the league. When analyzing the JU stat sheet, the turnaround is evident as scoring and rebounding is up from last season, and the stout defense that has become a constant on a Melissa Taketa-coached team remains the same.

The most notable difference is on the offensive side of the court. JU's scoring average is up 1.5 points per game from a year ago (58.0 compared to 56.5 in 1999-2000) and the Dolphins are shooting nearly 2.0 percent better than the 1999-2000 season with a .408 clip (.386 last season).

The Quest For .500

When JU tips off tonight against Troy State in the quarterfinals of the 2001 TAAC Championship, the Dolphins will be attempting to add to their list of "firsts" accomplished during the 2000-01 season:

-- win their first-ever conference tournament game, and -- finish the season with a break-even record

Thanks in large part to a six-game winning streak and the fact that the Dolphins have won nine of their last 13 games, JU sits one game below .500 with a 13-14 record. In order for JU to finish with at least a break-even season, the Dolphins will have to win tonight in the quarterfinal game against Troy State and again tomorrow in the semifinals.

If that would happen JU would advance to the TAAC Championship game where the Dolphins will play for the league's automatic bid into the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

Comfortable Surrounding

Distractions outside of the game can often be detrimental to a basketball team come tournament time, especially with a young team like the Dolphins. One distraction that JU does not have to worry about, however, is playing in an arena that it has not had success in.

In fact, JU has never lost and sports a perfect 2-0 record in two seasons at the UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla. Last season, JU defeated UCF 61-54 in Orlando on Feb. 17, and picked up a 64-57 win over the Golden Knights earlier this season (Feb. 10).

Getting It Done With The `D'

One constant for the Dolphins since they started playing basketball at the beginning of last season has been solid defensive play. But few could have imagined the JU defense's performance in a two-game stretch against Troy State (Jan. 27) and Mercer (Feb. 1).

In wins over Lady Trojans (63-47) and Mercer (47-40), the Dolphins held both opponents to under 30.0 percent shooting from the field. Against the Lady Trojans, JU held TSU to a season-low 26.5 percent from the field on 18-of-68 shooting. The Dolphins followed that up with another stunning performance against Mercer, holding the Bears to a 28.8 mark on 17-of-59 shooting.

The 40 points allowed against Mercer was the lowest ammount surrended by the Dolphins in team history, and marks just the third time ever that they held an opponent to under 50 points.

From Way Down Town...Bang!

When basketball officials instituted the 3-point line back in 1983, they must have had Lexie Richards in mind. As a freshman last year, Richards earned TAAC All-Freshman team honors after ranking second in the league with 2.43 3-pointers per game and ranking third with a .415 3-point field goal percentage.

This year, she picked up right where she left off and leads the league in 3-pointers made per game (2.37) and ranks fourth in the TAAC in 3-point field goal percentage (.340).

Her 68 baskets from beyond the arc last year ranked sixth in the TAAC single-season record book and her 64 so far this season ranks tied for eighth.

Good Guys Wear White

As the higher seed in their quarterfinal showdown with fifth-seeded Troy State, JU will be wearing its home white uniforms.

During the regular season, the Dolphins have gone 9-5 when wearing their whites, including a 6-3 mark in confernece action. JU is currently riding the wake of a six-game winning streak when suiting up in its white uniforms with wins over UCF (66-62 on Jan. 18), Florida Atlantic (69-60 on Jan. 20), Mercer (47-40 on Feb. 1), Troy State (63-58 on Feb. 3), Jacksonville State (58-50 on Feb. 15) and Samford (60-54 on Feb. 17).

The last time the Dolphins lost when wearing their white duds was back on Jan. 6 when JU dropped a 68-54 decision to regular-season champion and top-seed Campbell.

Free Basketball

On two occasions during the 2000-01 season, Dolphin basketball fans were treated to five minutes of free basketball as JU has played in two overtime games this year. In both instances, JU came away from the hard-fought contests with the win.

The Dolphins' first overtime game came in the second game of the season against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 22. With the score knotted at 57-all at the end of regulation, JU outscored BCC 12-9 in the extra period for a 69-66 win. JU's second OT game came at Mercer on Jan. 25. After JU erased a double-digit lead late in the second half to tie the game, JU outscored the Bears 11-8 in overtime for a 67-64 victory.

Sungy And The All-TAAC Team

Sophomore post player Kat Sungy accomplished another first for the Dolphins in their second season as she earned a spot on the first-team All-Trans America Athletic Conference squad.

Sungy, who led the league in rebounding during the regular season (9.5 rpg) and paces the team in scoring (11.0 ppg), set a club record with 10 double-doubles while setting team records for points (296), field goals made (123), total rebounds (257), offensive rebounds (87), and defensive rebounds (170).

During the season, she also set numerous JU firsts, including being the first Dolphin player to earn TAAC Player of the Week honors twice in one year after picking up the distinction on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5.

Familiar Territory

JU's Melissa Taketa finds herself in a very familiar position as she is in the midst of her second season coaching the Dolphins.

When comparing the results of Taketa's teams at JU and at her previous school, the University of the Pacific in Stocton, Calif., there are striking similarities.

In her first season at both institutions, Taketa's clubs went 6-22. In her second season at Pacific, the Tigers finished 15-15 overall and 7-11 in conference play. While the Dolphins have already surpassed Taketa's 1989-90 Tigers' conference finish, JU has the opportunity to finish at least .500 and tie her Pacific team's 15 victories.

Spreading The Wealth

When scanning the season stat sheet, it is easy to spot JU's leading scorer, as sophomore post player Kat Sungy is the only Dolphin to average a double-digit scoring total. But looks can be deceiving for opponents if they set their game plan up to strictly stop Sungy in the low post.

While Sungy is the only Dolphin to average a double-digit scoring total, four players average at least seven points. Angela Walker is next on the list with 9.2 ppg, followed by Lexie Richards (8.7 ppg) and Shannon Wynn (7.6).

The Hallman Factor

After the first 14 games of the season, JU stood at the bottom of the TAAC standing with an 0-5 league mark and a 4-10 overall record. Looking for a spark, head coach Melissa Taketa inserted freshman forward Amber Hallman into the starting lineup on Jan. 18. The Dolphins immediately went on a six-game winning streak and went on to win 9 of the first 10 games in which Hallman started.

For more, click on the above link for complete game notes.