Kathleen Nash

Notebook

Senior Kat Nash runs around a screen set by her sister Kristin in February’s win over Nebraska. Nash was awarded with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Robin Roberts Broadcasting Scholarship in March.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Though their season abruptly ended a month ago, that doesn’t mean the Longhorns haven’t been hard at work both on and off the court.

Kathleen Nash is one of those players.

Nash racked up a number of athletic awards during her tenure on the 40 Acres, but her work ethic helped her garner a number of academic awards. Most recently she was awarded the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA) Robin Roberts/WBCA Broadcasting Scholarship Award.

The $4,500 scholarship is awarded to one female collegiate basketball player who intends to pursue graduate work and a career in sports communications and journalism.

“Congratulations to Kathleen,” said WBCA CEO Beth Bass when she announced Nash as the recipient in late March. “We look forward to watching you excel in your field, and hope you will put some ‘pressure’ on this award’s namesake.”

The communications field is a far cry from her undergraduate degree. Nash, a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2009, 2010 and 2011, will graduate next month with a degree in finance and a minor in accounting. She was also named a five-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll honoree.

<strong>Former Horns return</strong>

As current Longhorn players prepare to graduate, some familiar past players have begun to trickle back onto campus.
Last week, head coach Gail Goestenkors added former Texas standout Edwina Brown to her squad of assistants in hopes of helping Texas regain elite status. Brown, who played as a Longhorn from 1996-2000, will take over as the new strength and conditioning coach.

“We are so happy to have Edwina on staff,” Goestenkors said. “She will bring her mental and physical toughness, along with her vast knowledge of the game, to our program. ‘Wink’ knows what it takes to be the very best player in the country and she will be a vital asset to the future of Texas Women’s Basketball.”

Brown is one of the program’s most decorated athletes. During her time on the 40 Acres, she was a two-time All-American and first-team All-Big 12 Conference team member. In addition to receiving the Margaret Wade Trophy award in 2000, an honor that is presented annually to the top player in college basketball, Brown is also the only player in UT history to record at least 1,700 points, 500 assists and 250 steals throughout her career. She is also a former Olympian and WNBA player.

<strong>Recruit plays All-American game</strong>

With news coming from all fronts of the Longhorn family of players, both current and past, an incoming Texas player made headlines this past month as well.

Texas signee Cassie Peoples was one of 24 players in the 10th Annual McDonald’s All-American Game on March 30.

Peoples, who competed for the West team, is only the ninth player in Texas’ history invited to play in the exhibition. The women’s McDonald’s All-American game began in 2002, and is reserved for the nation’s best high school players.

Peoples scored five points and recorded four steals and a block in 16 minutes of play. The West lost 78-66.

The Cy-Fair native is the sixth best player at her position according to the 2011 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings.  

In a season marked by ups and downs, the Longhorns’ hopes of finishing off their regular season on a high note were dashed as they lost 68-67 in a nail-biting comeback effort at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Senior Kathleen Nash led the way for Texas (18-12, 7-9 Big 12), in what was her last regular season game before graduating, recording her ninth double-double of the season. Nash tallied 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

For a team that has worked extremely hard this season, winning its final game on the road was crucial.

The Longhorns stepped up early as they built an 11-5 lead, but they could not hold on for long as OSU capitalized on a 15-0 scoring run. Texas managed to stay focused as it only allowed OSU nine additional points after the eight-minute mark of the first half. At the half, Texas had cut OSU’s lead to only a point.

While it was a game honoring the Cowgirls’ seniors, the freshmen stole the show as Tiffany Bias led her squad with 21 points. Fellow freshman Vicky McIntyre followed close behind with 15 points.

“When you’re led by freshmen to any win in the Big 12, it’s exciting,” said OSU head coach Kurt Budke.

True to form, Texas wouldn’t go down without a fight. Junior Yvonne Anderson hit a three-pointer with a 1:03 left in the game. A 9-3 Texas pushed the team to within four points of OSU’s lead. But it wouldn’t be enough as the freshman Bias stepped up driving through Texas’ defense for both a layup and a foul resulting in two free throws, which she made.

Both Bias and McIntyre capitalized on a weak Texas defense as they stopped Texas’ momentum in the final minutes of regulation to secure much-needed baskets for their squad.

For Texas, a high note to its loss was rebounding. The Longhorns outrebounded their opponents by a count of 52-37.
Anderson led the squad with a game-high 21 points, racking up five rebounds of her own.

After drohpping its finale, Texas is left to wonder whether or not the loss will have any affect on its hopes for an NCAA bid. But for right now, Texas must remain focused as it has little time to rest and prepare for the Big 12 tournament, which for the Longhorns begins Tuesday evening against Missouri.

Womens Basketball

The last time Texas and Oklahoma met, the two fought an epic back-and-forth battle that culminated in a frustrating 71-67 overtime loss for the Longhorns.

When the unranked Longhorns head to Norman this Saturday to take on the 15th-ranked Sooners, Texas is bringing the same strategy but hoping for a different result.  

“We aren’t really fixing our game plan,” said Texas senior Kathleen Nash.

“Last time we faced them, our shots just weren’t falling, and we didn’t protect the ball. We hung with them for most of the game, but we didn’t finish. We’ve learned how to do that since then.”

This matchup is the first of three straight games against ranked opponents, and with the Longhorns barely breaking .500 in the Big 12 standings, they desperately want to come away with a victory.

“This one is huge. We need every game but especially this game,” Nash said. “They are our rival, and they are a team we know we can hang with.”

Facing a highly ranked opponent is hard, but facing one with one of the nation’s top players is even tougher. Last time around, Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson started slow but eventually got going and torched the Longhorns for 30 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

“Stopping her was our focus in practice yesterday,” Nash said on Wednesday. “We want to take her out of the game early because she is quick and can change a game.”  

The Longhorns are coming off of a much-needed victory over Nebraska. They are 6-2 since facing the Sooners and have fixed many of the problems that plagued them early in the season — namely, limiting turnovers and grabbing rebounds.

“It just comes with concentrating in practice,” Nash said of Texas’ early season woes. “Now we’ve learned how to maintain a lead, keep our foot to the ground and not let them come back.”

Despite the obvious disparity in their national ranking, Texas and Oklahoma games are usually close ones. Both teams are neck-and-neck in almost every statistical category.

Texas’ 79.6 points a game is the third-best scoring team in the conference. Oklahoma’s 76.4 is fourth. To maintain their miniscule scoring edge, the Longhorns will need production from their top scorer, freshman Chassidy Fussell.

“I think that [Fussell] came in with the attitude that she wanted to contribute right away, and that is definitely what she is doing,” said junior guard Yvonne Anderson. “She is very consistent on the offensive floor.”

Both teams also rank at the very bottom of the Big 12 in scoring defense. Oklahoma yields 65 points a game to Texas’ 68.

Exemplifying the idea of honing “student athletes,” Texas and Oklahoma enter Saturday’s contest featuring 2011 Academic All-Big 12 players, including Nash. Anderson, Ashleigh Fontenette, Ashley Gayle and Sarah Lancaster. Oklahoma placed a Big 12-leading six student athletes on the squad, including Robinson.

Though their similarities abound, Texas is hoping that it can come away from Saturday further differentiating the two teams — with a Texas win and a Sooner loss.

Womens Basketball

Five Longhorns earned spots on the 2011 Academic All-Big 12 Women’s Basketball Team, the conference announced Tuesday. Seniors Kathleen Nash and Sarah Lancaster join juniors Yvonne Anderson, Ashleigh Fontenette and Ashley Gayle on the First Team.

It’s the third-straight selection for Nash and the second for Anderson, Fontenette and Gayle. Lancaster was also a three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection during her four years as a member of the women’s tennis team.
 

Freshman phenom Fussell notches another 20-point game

The referees’ whistles wouldn’t stop blowing.

But even in a game where the players seemingly spent more time shooting free throws or being pushed to the ground, the Longhorns (15-7, 4-4 Big 12) managed a tough 80-68 win over Kansas on Saturday at the Erwin Center.

“It was really physical, and [the Jayhawks] have a lot of big girls down low,” Texas guard Kathleen Nash said. “We just had to body up on them.”

A total of 37 fouls were called on both teams, with Kansas (15-8, 2-7) accounting for 23 of them.

“I thought this was a great team effort,” Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. “Kansas is an exceptional team and it was very helpful for us that they got in foul trouble.”

Neither side shot particularly well in the first half, in part because of the tenacious play of both teams and their stingy defenses. Both teams shot just around 35 percent from the field, but the Longhorns' three-point shooting and rebounding kept them flying higher than the Jayhawks in the opening period.

Kansas didn’t relent, though. It opened the second half with a series of easy buckets coupled with a pair of blown Texas lay-ups, cutting the Longhorns’ initial 11 point lead to just four with 10 minutes left to play.

The tide of the battle turned, perhaps symbolically, with a hustle play involving Texas' Kathleen Nash and Kansas' Monica Engleman. After a Texas miss, four of the Longhorns ran the length of the court to defend the trailing Jayhawks. Nash stayed behind, defended in the back court, and eventually tied the ball up with Engleman, ensuring Texas another possession. Kristen Nash converted a lay-up on the extra possession which set off a barrage of unanswered Texas points.

“It was tough,” Kansas forward Carolyn Davis said. “The Nash sisters are probably more physical than a lot of people think, and they sent a message. At times we didn’t match that, and when we did we got fouls.”

Davis finished with at team-high 18 points, but also accumulated four fouls, which greatly limited her playing time.

For the Longhorns, freshman Chassidy Fussell took full advantage of her second half-opportunities. She ended the game with 25 points, 13 of which came in the second period. It was her fifth game in a row with 20 or more points, and she is quickly becoming one of the conference’s most feared scorers. Kathleen Nash and Yvonne Anderson added 12 and 14 points, respectively.

The Longhorns also won the rebound battle 44-33 for the first time since playing Oklahoma on Jan. 16.

“I was very happy with the way we rebounded today,” Goestenkors said. “We are still looking for that [rebounding] consistency, but tonight we did a good job.” 

Freshman Chassidy Fussell led all Texas scorers with 21 points to help give the Longhorn women basketball squad a 63-56 win over Oklahoma State in front of a raucous Frank Erwin Center crowd.

The victory was important for Texas, as it was their first conference win of the season.

It took a few minutes to get their engine revved, but the Longhorns discovered that the little things can culminate into a big-time performances.

“I thought our defense, especially in the first half, was exceptional,” said Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors. “It’s definitely something to build on.”

The Cowgirls opened the game with four quick points, but a 10-2 Longhorn run quickly erased what was a sloppy start to the game.

The scoring spark came after senior Kathleen Nash robbed a lob pass from the Cowgirls and drove the length of the floor for an easy lay-up. From then on out all of the Longhorns channeled their inner cornerback, intercepting the ball left and right, allowing them to net 31 points off turnovers.

“I think there’s no question that [turnovers] was the difference in the game,” said Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke. “You don’t have to look any further than that.”

Texas carried a double digit lead from the early first half until the 16 minute mark of the second half when Oklahoma State clawed it’s way back into the game, cutting the Longhorns' lead to six.

The Cowgirls kept themselves close by winning the rebound battle with 52 rebounds compared to Texas’ 31.

“When they were coming back, I was just thinking that we don’t want to let this happen again,” Kathleen Nash said. “We just focused on taking care of the ball and not having those turnovers and building on the lead.”

In desperate need of another spark, the Longhorns turned to what had carried them all night — defense. Ashley Gayle electrified the Frank Erwin Center with a block and gaze into the crowd that would have made Dikembe Mutombo happy, and Kathleen Nash converted the block into points on the other end of the floor.

But yet again, the Cowgirls gashed the Longhorn lead to four with 50 seconds remaining. Free throws from Chassidy Fussell and another earthquake-inducing block from Ashley Gayle eventually put the final nail in the coffin.

“It was an energy play,” junior Yvonne Anderson said of the Gayle’s block.

Gayle’s individual defensive performance was another important ingredient in Texas’ winning recipe. Gayle, who came off the bench for the first time this season, had six blocks, giving her 81 on the season. She is now just six blocks away from tying for second place all-time at Texas.

Though the Longhorns are pleased to get a victory, none of the players and coaches are calling this victory a landmark win. In fact, many of them felt that they could have played better.

“It feels good to get a win, but at the same time, we want to be better,” Anderson said.

The No. 17 Longhorns had a chance to prove their worth on the road against No. 25 Michigan State on Sunday, but fell short 71-57 to the Spartans in the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge.

Texas opened the game with the lead by way of Kathleen Nash’s two free throws. Texas maintained their lead midway through the first half, but it was all Spartans after that.

Michigan State’s Lykendra Johnson and Kalisha Keane had 20 points a piece to lead their team’s charge. Texas’ Nash led all Longhorn scorers with 17 points of her own in conjunction with her seven rebounds.
Post Ashley Gayle added 10 points and five rebounds while Ashleigh Fontenette contributed 13 points and two steals.

Though she is normally a surefire scorer, freshman Chassidy Fussell didn’t manage a single point and turned the ball over a team high five times in her 22 minutes of play.

It wasn’t just Fussell who had a tough time. The Longhorns as a whole were out of sync for much of the game, turning the ball over 27 times. Coach Gail Goestenkors has conceded in the past that her team’s turnover woes are a problem that have plagued Texas for much of the season, and Michigan State was able to capitalize.

As a team, Texas shot an uncharacteristically low 38 percent from the field and finished well below their season average of 91.2 points per game. They were the Big 12’s top scoring team coming into yesterday’s match.

Goestenkors said her team was simply not focused enough for this game.

“It was a bad week of practice for us,” Goestenkors said. “All but the last day we had at least two people out of practice. We are taking final exams right now, and I asked the team if this practice was an exam, what would you give yourselves, and the team said a D. This game reflects our practices and if I had to grade us on this game I would give us a D as well. Everyone has to go through finals and deal with it but you have to refocus and play ball.”

The last time these two teams met the score was lopsided in the other direction. Texas beat the Spartans 81-60 in March of 2004 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The overall series record between these teams is now 2-2.

The Big 12/Big Ten Challenge features 12 games between the conference’s teams. After this weekend, the Big Ten leads the series 7-4. The final game of the series will be played on Dec. 9 when Purdue travels to Texas A&M. The series will also be played in 2011.

Next up for Goestenkors’ team is a date with Texas-Pan American on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Erwin Center. 

In their continuing quest to define themselves as a unit, the Longhorns may have done just that on Sunday against Boston University.

The Longhorns runned-and-gunned their way to a 92-46 victory over the Terriers, behind Chassidy Fussell’s 20 points and Kathleen Nash’s 20 rebounds. Ashley Gayle added 16 rebounds of her own.

“This was a great game for us because [the Boston University Terriers] are very strong and physical,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “We had to work for everything we got and it wasn’t easy. Kat [Nash] and AG [Gayle] were monsters on the board and they ignited our transition game.”

The “transition game” was especially important for Texas. The Longhorns were able to push the ball at the fast pace they like due to the 25 turnovers they forced against the Terriers, and they netted 35 points off the turnovers and 25 fast-break points.

“Once we lost Cokie [Reed] we changed who we were going to be,” Goestenkors said. “We focused on pushing the ball and pushing the tempo and we were going to score a lot of points and do it in transition. Last game I said, ‘Okay I think our goal needs to be to score 100 points every game.’ Whether we do or we don’t that needs to be our mindset.”

The Longhorns tried to keep the ball moving with finesse, but they didn’t give up on being physical.

Though it is not an official statistic, Fussell led the Longhorns in time spent on the ground. On both the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, Fussell could be seen hitting the deck for loose balls, taking charges and getting fouled. Her hustle paid dividends giving her four steals, one block and eight rebounds in addition to her 20 points.

“I just felt like they’re going to come at me, so I’m going to come at them,” Fussell said. “That’s my mindset when I play. I’ve got to be fearless.”

The final score may be a bit misleading considering how close the game was in the much of the first half. Texas trailed for the first time this season 11-9 at one point, but after regaining the lead, they never looked back.

With their 92-point performance the Longhorns have scored over 90 points in each of the first three games, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1992. Nash’s 20 rebounds were the most by a Longhorn since 2005.

Their victory let Texas fans know that when they fatigue their opponents with their mobility, Texas is virtually unstoppable. It is a style they are trying to perfect as they prepare to take on Stanford, Michigan State, Tennessee and the tough Big 12 in the coming weeks.

But for now, Goestenkors and her team are celebrating a commanding win over a team she said was the best they’ve faced so far.

“We made them [Boston University] look bad,” she said.  

Senior guard Brittainey Raven cries after fouling out in the Longhorns’ first round loss to San Diego State on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Maxx Scholten | Daily Texan Staff

Three years into her tenure at Texas, Gail Goestenkors has made $3 million. But has she really earned it?

The Longhorns have not gotten past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since Goestenkors has arrived and have not advanced to the second round in the past two years.

Most recently, the Longhorns’ disappointment came in a Sunday night loss to 11th-seeded San Diego State in a rare first-round upset.

But this was not just any first-round loss.

The Longhorns were unable to take advantage of playing in front of their fans on their home court.

No excuses.

It does not matter that the Aztecs’ superstar decided not to miss a three-pointer. They should know that San Diego State has a shooter.

The Aztecs sure were aware of the Longhorns’ shooters. Texas’ top scorers, Brittainey Raven and Kathleen Nash, were held to a combined nine points.

Erika Arriaran was having trouble creating shots for herself, going zero for four from behind the arc.

The Aztecs, like many other teams, had the Longhorns’ number. They knew what to expect and left Texas second-guessing.

So, now it is turning into a case of the early-2000’s Mack Brown era.

Gail Goestenkors cannot win the big game.

She inherited All-Americans on her squad and brought in more, yet she has never beaten Texas A&M, going 0-7 and losing all games by double figures. She is 2-4 against Oklahoma. And, she hasn’t come close to a Big 12 title.

Goestenkors is a winner. Or, at least, was a winner.

Prior to joining the Longhorns, she coached at Duke, where she won at least 30 games for seven straight seasons. She made four Final Fours and two championships. That’s not to mention her two Olympic gold medals.

She came to Texas expecting to win — not just 22 games a year and a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament. She was supposed to win Big 12 Championships and advance deep into March.

Now it doesn’t seem like she has the same expectations.

“You know, in the Big 12, you look at the things we did, and over the course of the season, I feel like this team did turn a corner,” Goestenkors said after Sunday’s loss.

What corners have they turned? They have fell short of where they thought they should be each year. And you can’t keep on bringing out the awesomeness of the Big 12.

We all know that the Big 12 is great. Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all avoided first-round upsets. But in Austin, no one cares about them.

So how much longer should we wait for Goestenkors to start winning? As the Raven era comes to a close, what can we expect from the Longhorns in the future?

A solid core returns next year in Ashleigh Fontenette and Nash, who had an exceptional season at guard. At post, Cokie Reed, whose offense started to come along in the final month of the season, and Ashley Gayle and her four blocks per game return next year.

But, the Longhorns need someone to step up and take over the role of dominant player. Texas needs a player who can take over a game.

They have not had a superstar who, day in and day out, will score 20 points per game.

Preparations for next season will begin soon, and the Longhorns will have four new additions to the 40 Acres, including Tiffany Moore, the nation’s fifth-best guard, according to ESPN.

The question is, how much longer can Texas Athletics go with accepting a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team that makes first-round exits in the NCAA Tournament?

Tick tock goes the clock.