Cokie Reed

Most Improved Player 
Brady Sanders: While Brady Sanders’ name appeared at the beginning of the year, it definitely appeared a lot more frequently toward the end of the season. The redshirt freshman was a key player off the bench and brought a spark and enthusiasm to the court when needed. While her season statistics weren’t suburb, she ended the year with 4.4 points per game with 73 turnovers and 53 assists, giving energy to the team down the stretch when Texas needed it most. 

Biggest Disappointment 
Cokie Reed: Reed came into the season as the most hyped player on this Texas team. Head coach Karen Aston looked to her as a “team mom” to teach her young teammates the ropes. However, in early January, Reed and teammate Chelsea Bass announced their retirement from the team. Reed stated the cause to be “exercise-induced hypertension” and said it was time for her to focus on things other than basketball. While Imani McGee-Stafford did a good job of replacing her, another strong presence in the paint might have given Texas a few more wins on the board.

Coach’s Grade 
C+. Aston came into her first season as the Longhorns’ head coach with a lot of expectations, but she had many obstacles to work around. Most of the freshmen and new players coming in were signed under former head coach Gail Goestenkors. In addition, Aston was given a very young and inexperienced team to work with that she brought to maturity by the end of the season. However, Aston has had experience as a head coach before Texas. She was head coach at Charlotte for four years before she spent one season at North Texas. In addition, she spent eight years at Texas as an assistant under Hall of Fame coach Jody Conradt. With her experience and knowledge it took a little too long for her team to mesh and fix some consistent key mistakes in the beginning of the season.

Team MVP 
Chassidy Fussell: The junior out of Tennessee led the Longhorns in almost all parts of the offense this season. She tallied 14.2 points a game with a 78.9 shooting percentage. However, she was more than a leader on the court. As the oldest player on the team she lead her young squad of Longhorns off the court as well. After a small slow streak in the middle of the season, according to Aston, she spent countless hours in the gym trying to get her shot back and be a role model for her team. Fussell will come back next year with the potential to be an even bigger threat for Texas on both sides of the ball. 

Despite an 0-5 start to Big 12 play in her first year as Texas head coach, Karen Aston is still proving to be an excellent recruiter.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

With the departure of Cokie Reed and Chelsea Bass from the roster because of health concerns, head coach Karen Aston will have some pretty big shoes to fill through her recruiting efforts. 

However, in her short time at Texas, Aston has already resorted to methods different from those of her predecessor in order to fill holes on the bench. Not only has she signed several junior college recruits since her hiring, but she has also dipped into the various talent pools within Texas’ athletic system. 

So far this season, Aston has acquired talent from two other teams within the University. At the start of the season, senior Nadia Taylor, formerly a third baseman who played four years of softball for head coach Connie Clark at Texas, joined the team to take advantage of her final year of eligibility. 

“As a fifth-year student athlete, she has been able to help the young players adapt to Texas and understand what it means to be a part of the Texas legacy,” Aston said.

Although she has seen limited action so far, Taylor’s presence on the bench provides needed depth. Aston also praised Taylor for the leadership skills she brings to the court. 

Aston also added freshman Sara Hattis in December, a member of the national championship-winning volleyball squad under the direction of head coach Jerritt Elliott. At the end of the basketball season, Hattis will return to the volleyball team. 

As a senior at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, N.M., Hattis was a heavily recruited volleyball and basketball prospect. After sifting through many scholarship efforts from both volleyball and basketball coaches, Hattis decided to play volleyball at Texas. 

At the start of her career on the 40 Acres, Hattis was unsure of her participation in basketball, but decided to join up after the volleyball season ended. 

By adding Hattis, Aston filled another hole. Besides freshman Imani McGee-Stafford, the Longhorns are fielding a relatively average-sized team. Hattis brings a 6-foot-4-inch frame to the court with an impressive jumping ability. She can reach a height of 10 feet one inch on a vertical jump and can dunk a tennis ball. Her goal by the end of training is to reach a vertical of around 10 feet 7 inches and dunk a basketball. 

“Anytime you can welcome someone to your team with an inherent sense of Texas pride, it’s a plus,” Aston said. 

Aston and her staff also welcomed two college transfers to help fill out the bench. 

GiGi Mazionyte, from Weatherford College, and Ashley Roberts, from South Plains College, were added this past May to the Longhorn roster. Gail Goestenkors, who stepped down as head coach after last season, didn’t seek junior college transfers. The last junior college player to transfer to Texas did so in 2004.

“These young ladies possess a terrific combination of athletic ability and commitment to excellence in the classroom,” Aston said. “They are going to be great ambassadors for Texas women’s basketball.”  

Maziontye was recruited based on her versatility and experience as a forward. Because she has played both at the collegiate level at Weatherford and as a member of the Lithuania national team, Aston hopes her addition will help mature the young Texas roster, especially through the rigorous conference schedule. 

Roberts filled a need as guard for the Longhorns and provided a necessary backcourt presence. She has a proven ability to score, another needed quality for the Longhorns. 

While at Texas, Aston has begun to fill the holes in the Texas roster and provide the Longhorns with the talent needed to make it to the
next level.

Sophomore Cookie Reed has had an injured history in her time at Texas, as she has off the floor as much as she has been on it in her two-and- half years on the 40 Acres. But she has taken the positives from the experience and takes the lessons learned with her to the court.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

More than anything, Cokie Reed’s rehab journey has been a learning experience.

Coming in as one of the most highly touted recruits of the Gail Goestenkors era, Reed’s arrival at Texas had many fans excited for the future. But she’s now two and a half years into her time as a Longhorn, and the redshirt sophomore post has hardly had a chance to prove herself.

Reed, who has continued to be in and out of the lineup this season after sitting out her entire sophomore year with a right foot injury, knows that dealing with injuries is always frustrating but emphasized the importance of staying focused and maintaining a positive attitude.

“There are times where I feel as if I should be able to do something but my injury prevents that from happening,” said Reed, who is averaging eight points and five rebounds per game in 17 starts this year. “But you have to deal with adversity with character and control your emotions when it does get frustrating.”

It’s not as if Reed doesn’t know what it’s like to be one of the best in the game. The 6-foot-4 native of Waco was one of the most decorated high school players in state history. While averaging 16.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game in her senior year, Reed led the Midway Pantherettes to their first 4A state championship in 15 years. She was a Naismith High School Player of the Year finalist and ranked fifth by ESPN HoopGurlz in a recruiting class that included Player of the Year favorite Brittney Griner and one of the top guard’s in the nation in Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins.

Reed’s great success didn’t stop at the high school level. In her first year on the 40 Acres, Reed earned Big 12 First Team All-Freshman honors after playing all 33 games and averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Her proven talent and lack of experience dealing with injury made sitting out her sophomore season that much tougher.

“It was really hard,” Reed said. “Having to deal with rehab and not being able to compete with my team was pretty challenging.”

But just as she would attack a rebound or back down a defender, Reed stayed focused and did whatever she could to make sure she would be game ready when she returned to the court.

“My love for the game kept me motivated throughout the rehab process,” Reed said. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time and it’s a hobby for me, something I really enjoy doing.”

Cokie has also relied heavily on her team for support when the going gets tough. Being able to feed off of their energy and lean on them when necessary has been vital to her recovery.

“On this team we play for each other,” Reed said. “The coaching staff and my teammates have been positive through it all, they’ve been my support system.”

Although her physical health may not quite be where she wants it to be at this point, Reed says her time away from the court allowed her to better understand what she needs to do mentally to compete at a high level.

“The biggest thing I learnt while I was out was to be a student of the game,” Reed said. “If I can focus on seeing things that most people don’t see I will be able to give myself an advantage by outsmarting my opponent.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 as: Injured-riddled Reed looks to take positives from time-out

Forwards Ashley Gayle, 22, and Cokie Reed collide with Oklahoma’s Jelena Cerina in the first half. Gayle grabbed eight rebounds and Reed scored nine points in the loss.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

 Following an exciting, buzzer-beating win over Iowa State, head coach Gail Goestenkors knew the Longhorns were in for a physical game when they traveled to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners.

“We talked about the fact that the Big 12 is such a war and we’re so evenly balanced throughout the conference,” Goestenkors said. “Many of the games are going to come down to the wire. There are going to be a lot of games that are going to be decided by six points or less.”

Interestingly enough, six points is exactly the margin of victory the Sooners (12-5, 4-2 Big 12) enjoyed over the Longhorns (12-6, 2-4 Big 12) Saturday afternoon.

Oklahoma topped the Longhorns, 73-67, moving its home record to an impressive 10-1. The Longhorns, on the other hand, have struggled on the road. Texas is 1-3 in true road games this year.

The Sooners started the game on a 7-0 run and never looked back. As a team, the Sooners shot over 60 percent from three-point range, connecting on eight of 13 shots from deep. In addition to shooting exceptionally well, the Sooners also distributed the ball well, recording assists on 14 of their 23 made shots. Maybe the most impressive stat from the game was Nicole Griffin’s nine blocks. To go with her mini-block party, Griffin added nine points and seven rebounds as well, nearly recording a triple-double.

However, there are some positives to take away from this game. Well, maybe just one positive: Although the Longhorns shot a lowly 30 percent from the field, freshman Nneka Enemkpali had a coming out party in Norman. She recorded a career-high 11 points on five of 10 shooting and also pulled down eight rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end.

“Usually when you start second semester and you’ve had a couple of Big 12 games under your belt, that’s when we tell the freshman that they’re no longer freshman, so they need to act like sophomores,” said senior forward Cokie Reed. “I think Nneka is just ready to turn the corner. I think she has on the defensive end. Now I’m expecting more from her offensively as well.”

Enemkpali’s contributions are needed with Reed still nursing a foot injury. Reed did appear for 18 minutes against the Sooners, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds in limited action. The other regular Longhorn post players, Ashley Gayle and Anne Marie Hartung, have not been the most productive or reliable scoring options. So Enemkpali’s maturation could go a long way in helping out the Longhorns. Having a sure-handed offensive option on the low block does wonders for opening up the offense and getting everyone involved.

“Nneka is doing great,” said sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell. “She’s still got to gain more confidence. I was in the same situation last year, so I can’t look down on it. As long as she gains confidence throughout the season, she can help us out a lot.”

It’s been quite some time since Texas last enjoyed any sort of postseason success. After Gail Goestenkors took over for the legendary Jody Conradt back in 2007, the program has yet to make it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns have failed to finish any better than fourth in the Big 12 under Goestenkors, and the team’s high win mark under Coach G sits at 22. In a little over four seasons at the helm, Goestenkors’ overall Big 12 record is 43-37 (.538), compared to Conradt’s 284-86 (.761).

Maybe the Texas faithful were spoiled during Conradt’s time in Austin. After all, she did devote 30-plus years to the program, and is the reason it is one of the best in the nation. It’s not to say that Goestenkors is chopped liver, by any means. With expectations at an all-time high after Conradt’s departure, someone was going to feel the heat at some point or another.

Whatever the case may be, the point is that the Longhorns are missing something at the top. These Longhorns are among the nation’s top defensive teams, and have loads of experience at multiple positions. Between elite post players like Cokie Reed and Ashley Gayle and superb guard play as of late from Yvonne Anderson, this is a solid squad. There’s no reason this team can’t make it to the NCAA Tournament, and even win a game or two.

You may not know it yet, but Chassidy Fussell is a special player. Much like Baylor’s Brittney Griner, she just gets it. Fussell isn’t nearly as advanced physically like Griner, but the two share a similar mindset while on the court. Either one can drop 30 points at will, although Fussell is a far better 3-point shooter than Griner. If she stays healthy, I can say without a doubt that within the next two years of her remaining eligibility Fussell will emerge as a National Player of the Year candidate.

It seems like Goestenkors has grasped how to use Fussell effectively, whether that’s screening to get her open, or having her create her own shots. It’s really up to Fussell most of the time to shoulder to scoring load, especially when Reed and Gayle aren’t producing underneath the basket. In the end, Fussell may be the answer to Goestenkors’ postseason woes at Texas. Think of it this way — Fussell is still learning how to drive and Goestenkors is in the passenger’s seat making sure she stays on the road.

After a tough home loss to Baylor this past weekend, Texas is now 1-3 in conference play. With 14 more games slated, there’s still plenty of time for the Longhorns to make a run at postseason play, but they’ll need more consistent effort from players not named Fussell, Reed and Anderson.

Redshirt sophomore Cokie Reed (45) takes a shot against Southeastern Louisiana. Reed has returned from offseason foot surgery last year.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns (1-1) will look to cap off an excellent week with their second consecutive win when they take on the Alcorn State Lady Braves on Sunday afternoon.

Texas, who signed high-schooler Imani Stafford — the 10th overall recruit in the nation — and got their first win of the season earlier this week, are hoping to get their second win of the season before they head to Honolulu for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown next weekend.

The Longhorns got away with some sloppy plays against Southeastern Louisiana on Monday night and will need to be much better if they want to make a statement at the Frank Erwin Center on Sunday.

“It was very difficult to see that many turnovers,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “It’s hard to watch. They weren’t forced turnovers. A lot of our turnovers were just mental errors, lack of focus.”

Texas shot just 40 percent and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half of Monday night’s game, but were able to get into their set offense in the second half and were much more effective.

“We didn’t really make any adjustments at half,” Goestenkors said. “But we were able to run more of our motion in the second half and our guards were able to get into a rhythm.”

Texas is going to need more of the same from their veteran guards against the experienced Lady Braves. Alcorn State has nine upperclassmen on their roster, including all five of its starters, and will be hoping to take advantage of Texas’ mistakes.

In order to be successful, Texas will also need more from sophomore Cokie Reed on the offensive end. Reed got in foul trouble early and had just seven points and five rebounds in limited minutes against SE Louisiana. She will have the height advantage over the undersized Lady Braves frontcourt and will have to take advantage.

“I have to be able to stay on the court for longer without getting tired,” Reed said. “They’re probably going to have to double team and I’ve learnt that I need to look for my guards when the double team does arrive because they’re going to be open.”

Published on Friday, November 18, 2011 as: Horns rely on veterans, look to improve record

Women's Basketball

Texas' Yvonne Anderson takes on Stanford's Lindy La Rocque during Texas' season. Anderson had 13 points in the loss.

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

It’s not often that schools open up the regular season with a matchup against one of the nation’s top teams.

The Longhorns did just that over the weekend when they hosted No. 5 Stanford.

In the end, the Cardinals’ depth gave them the edge over the Longhorns as they were able to pull out a 72-59 victory. It’s definitely not a loss to be ashamed of, as Stanford will most likely be in contention for the national title come season’s end. Head coach Gail Goestenkors had been 4-0 in season openers at Texas until the loss, but losing does provide the team with the opportunity to learn from its mistakes.

“This was a great opening game. We are going to be able to learn a lot from this game and grow from it,” said Goestenkors. “A lot of times, teams start with easy matchups, win by 20, but they don’t grow from those games.”

Tonight’s game against Southeastern Louisiana (1-0) will be a much different game for the Longhorns. The Lady Lions are an extremely young team, with seven players making their collegiate debut in the Lions’ first game, an 83-54 win over Centenary. It will be only the third time the two teams have faced off, with the series currently tied at 1-1. The Lady Lions are not nearly as tall or talented as Stanford, but in order for Texas to come out on top, it does need to improve some areas of its game.

For starters, Texas must hit open shots. It seems simple enough, but against Stanford, the Longhorns shot 20-59 (33.9 percent) from the field and just 1-11 (9.1 percent) from beyond the three-point line. The Cardinals also out-rebounded the Longhorns 45-37 in the game, with forward Chiney Ogwumike grabbing 14 total rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end.

“Overall, our defense was pretty good,” Goestenkors said. “But giving up the offensive rebounds hurt us down the stretch.”

Redshirt sophomore center Cokie Reed made her first appearance in over a year against the Cardinals after undergoing knee surgery last year. Reed logged a career-high 31 minutes while scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds. She must be a presence on the block in order for the Longhorns to defeat the Lady Lions.

“Cokie is going to demand a double team,” Goestenkors said. “Now we know how to deal with it, and we’ll have to be more aggressive and knock down open shots.”

Reed is the key to the Longhorns’ success on offense this year. Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell should stand out as the team’s leading scoring once again this season, but Texas needs another scorer to lighten the load for Fussell. Reed provides a big body in the post, and not many teams, including the Lady Lions, will have the size to stop her. She’s going to get double-teamed more times than not, and that’s when opportunities will arise for other players to step up as well.

“I need to look for my guards to be open when I get double teamed,” said Reed.

If Reed can find her guards open and they can knock down those shots, this team should have no problem defeating the Lady Lions. The size and experience of Texas should give the Lady Lions fits and the Longhorns have an excellent opportunity to improve their record to 1-1.

Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011 as: Longhorns impress despite loss

Women's Basketball Preview

Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell attempts a lay up against Texas Tech last season. She was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Team after leading the Longhorns in scoring a year ago.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

After three consecutive first-round exits at the NCAA tournament, head coach Gail Goestenkors and the Longhorns will rely on veteran leadership and young talent to push them deeper into the postseason.

Despite having struggled in Big 12 conference play and the NCAA tournament during her time at Texas, Goestenkors believes this year’s team is as good as ever and knows the team will need to rely heavily on the older girls in order to make a run in the tournament.

“It starts with the three seniors that we have — Ashley Gayle, Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson,” said Goestenkors at last week’s Big 12 Media Days. “Those three have been with me through their careers and my career at Texas, so they know what I want, what I need, what the expectations are.”

The three seniors, who each played in all 33 games for Texas last year, averaged a combined 30.5 points a game during the 2010-2011 season.

“I think we’ve all been wanting more, and they’ve really made a great commitment and become great leaders,” Goestenkors said.

Although the team expects plenty from its seniors, underclassmen Cokie Reed and Chassidy Fussell will also be expected to help out in a big way.

Reed, a sophomore center, was forced to redshirt last year after undergoing season-ending surgery to remove an extra bone and repair a tendon in her right foot.

“The addition of Cokie Reed back has been tremendous,” Goestenkors said. “She’s special. I know many of you saw her as a freshman making the Big 12 All-Freshman team, but she’s so much better than she was two years ago. There’s no comparison.”

The team traveled to Europe over the summer for a few exhibition games and it gave the team a great opportunity to see how Reed had progressed.

“We had the luxury of playing over in Europe this summer, so it was good for us as a coaching staff to finally get to see her back on the court,” Goestenkors said.

Fussell, who was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Team, led the team in scoring as a freshman and will be expected to do the same this season.

She averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game last year, but after working on all aspects of her game during the offseason, her coach believes she will be even better this year.

“She’s improved her game,” Goestenkors said. “She’s more fit than she was last year. And she was in good shape last year, but she wanted to get quicker. She’s much quicker. She made a commitment to the defensive end of the floor, which is what we needed. She’s also become a better passer. So we’re excited about her progression.”

Aside from the starting five, the team will rely on highly touted freshmen Cassie Peoples and Nneka Enemkpali as well as last year’s leading bench scorer, sophomore Chelsea Bass.

Peoples, who was named Big 12 Preseason Co-freshman of the year, had yet to practice with the team as of last week because she was recovering from an injury. Enemkpali, who was ranked as the 32nd best recruit in the nation by ESPN, brings an athletic component to the team that Goestenkors hasn’t seen since leaving Duke in 2007.

“Nneka Enempkali is the best athlete I’ve had since I’ve been in Texas,” Goestenkors said. “She was also offered a volleyball scholarship to play at Texas. That gives you an idea of her athleticism. She’s a quick jumper, runs the floor well. We feel she’ll give us depth at that power forward position.”

Despite finishing seventh in the conference last year, the team was ranked No. 3 in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll behind only in-state rivals Baylor and Texas A&M.

Printed on Thursday, October 27, 2011 as: Young players hold key to Longhorns' season

As the Texas women’s basketball players and coaches fielded questions during the team’s first press conference on Tuesday, there seemed to be a reoccurring theme: coping.

Despite being knocked out of the first round of the NCAA tournament by San Diego State last March, Texas coach Gail Goestenkors had high hopes for her team in the off-season. However, a season-ending injury to post player Cokie Reed left a Texas-sized hole in the lineup. So in a Big 12 conference that seems to be getting bigger and stronger, Goestenkors acknowledges that the team is shuffling to make up for the loss.

“We know Cokie, she was in great shape, in much better shape than she was in her entire freshman year,” Goestenkors said. “We were going to be a power team. Now we have got to change what we were planning to do, and do what is best for these young ladies to be successful.”

The scrambling process obviously includes finding players to fill the post position. Reed was supposed to split minutes with Ashley Gayle, a 6-foot-4-inch junior from Las Vegas. Goestenkors was also expecting Kristen Nash to return for a fifth year, who’s size would have also helped. Now Goestenkors has to rely on heavy minutes from Gayle as well as untested freshman Anne Marie Hartung.

Despite the lack of depth, Goestenkors is not discouraged, and feels both Gayle and Hartung will be options in the Longhorns’ new run-and-gun style of play.
“Anne Marie is going to learn and grow into the position,” she said. “She will play significant minutes.”

Another part of the coping process for this team goes beyond dealing with the loss of pivotal players. The second step is coping with the rigors of the Big 12 with a small, young team.

Hartung is among five freshmen on this year’s squad. And with more than half the team being underclassmen, questions remain over whether Texas can make a splash in the Big 12.

Senior Kathleen Nash will take on an even larger role in the offense this year, as she expects to shuffle through every position on the court during games.

“I might have to play one through five [positions] a lot more,” Nash said. “I’ll need to expand my game, to be able to post and handle the ball more.”

Nash’s expanded role is a part of the Longhorn’s new emphasis on playing up-tempo. The team has been working on extra conditioning drills to keep in shape.

“We are just running more,” Nash said. “If we aren’t running, we are scrimmaging. We have more minutes at the end of practice where we do conditioning, so we know we will always do that on top of everything else. But we know it’s necessary.”

The development of the team’s freshmen is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary off-season.

Freshman guard Tiffany Moore is expected to play significant minutes once she recovers from a hand injury suffered during practice. She said the pressure of playing for a big-time program is nothing new to her and her young teammates.

“I don’t really believe there is any [pressure] at all,” Moore said. “We all work hard, so we are kind of used to and immune to it by now. Coach G wants players who play hard, work hard and give time in the gym, so there really is no pressure at all as a freshman.”

Of course, part of fighting the pressure off is to build a strong sense of camaraderie.

Moore was excited to spill all about her teammate’s habits, quirks and even nicknames.

“I think [Chassidy Fussell] is bionic ... She lifts like thousands of pounds,” Moore joked. “A.M. [Hartung] is nice off the court, but on the court she is scary, she’s ferocious.”