No. 24 Longhorns open season against No. 5 Stanford

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Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell (24) dribbles past a defender during a game last season. Fussell returns for her second season after averaging 16.4 points per game last year.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors will look to get to 5-0 in season openers when the Longhorns take on No. 5 Stanford at home tonight.

It is the first time since 2004 that the Longhorns, who are ranked 24th, will open their season against a ranked opponent, and Stanford is the highest ranked team to visit the Frank Erwin Center for a home opener in the team’s 37-year history.

Despite tough competition, Goestenkors and the Longhorns are confident in their veteran leadership to get the season started on a winning note.

“It starts with the three seniors that we have, Ashley Gayle, Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson,” Goestenkors said. “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.”

Gayle, Fontenette and Anderson, along with sophomore Chassidy Fussell, were all starters on last year’s team and will be expected to contribute on and off the court early on in the season.

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

The three seniors, who each played in all 33 games for Texas last year, averaged a combined 31 points, while Fussell led the team in scoring, averaging 16 a game.

Fussell, who was named to the Pre-Season All-Big 12 team, is expected to lead the team on both ends of the court 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.”

The Longhorns also got some good news off the court on Thursday when high school standout Empress Davenport signed her letter of intent to play at Texas, starting in 2012. Davenport, a guard, is ranked No. 70 in the class of 2012 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.

“Empress is a tremendous athlete and one of the best defensive players that I’ve seen in a long time,” Goestenkors said. “She loves to pressure the ball, push the ball in transition and her high energy will fit in well with our running and pressing style of play. She’ll be an asset to our program and will commit to ‘Texas toughness.’”