Chelsea Bass

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.

Chassidy Fussell scans the defense in the LonghornÂ’s win over Oklahoma on Saturday. The sophomore matched a career-high with 30 points.

Photo Credit: Sa Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Head coach Gail Goestenkors got her 100th victory at Texas as the Longhorns were able to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt with an 87-62 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (18-10, 10-6) at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday.

Goestenkors' milestone victory couldn’t have come at a better time as the Longhorns were in a must-win situation against the Sooners in the annual “Shoot for a Cure” game. With the win, Texas improved to 6-10 in Big 12 play and 16-12 overall.

“The most important win was this win,” Goestenkors said. “I don't care if it’s number 100 or number one, it's the most important one. We played with a sense of urgency that you would expect from a team in our position.”

Texas played with an intensity and work ethic that had been absent during its recent two-game slump. The Longhorns were diving for loose balls, fighting for rebounds and refusing to be outworked from the tip to the final whistle.

“We came out, and we knew our backs were against the wall,” sophomore Chelsea Bass said, who tied her season high with 13 points. “Defensively we worked our butts off. When we work hard and have fun, we're a tough team to stop. We went to work on both ends of the court and we just had fun.”

Led by Yvonne Anderson's career-high eight steals and Ashley Gayle's six blocks, the Longhorns forced 25 turnovers. Texas had 25 points off turnovers compared to the Sooners’ six.

“It’s good for our confidence,” Goestenkors said. “We just worked so hard. This game just showed what can happen for us when we all put forth a supreme effort.”

Texas' performance was by far its strongest against a conference opponent this season. The Longhorns' 87 points were the most they've scored in a Big 12 game this year, and the 25-point margin of victory was their biggest win thus far in league play.

“We came out and set the tone,” Goestenkors said. “It was a tremendous team effort. Everybody really played well, played together and played hard. We were determined tonight, and we sustained that energy for 40 minutes.”

Texas' offensive attack was led by sophomore Chassidy Fussell's career-high 30 points. The sophomore shot 45 percent from the field (10 of 22) and made all seven free throw attempts.

“My teammates were great tonight,” Fussell said. “They know when and where to give me the ball. Yvonne [Anderson] and Ashleigh [Fontenette] were able to find me when I was open. It had a lot to do with my teammates out there tonight.”

Although Fussell stood above the rest, Texas got points from eight of its nine players, including double-digit numbers from Fontenette (18), Bass (13) and Anderson (12). Gayle led the team with six assists.

“We always welcome points from anybody,” Goestenkors said. “We had great balance tonight. One or two people aren't going to win games for us. We need to have balanced scoring, and tonight we did that.”

When the Texas women’s basketball team steps onto the Frank Erwin Center floor on Saturday to take on Kansas, Ke$ha’s hit single “We R Who We R” will, like always, boom through the house speakers in hopes of pumping up the Longhorn team.

Freshman guard Chelsea Bass doesn’t need Ke$ha to get fired up.

“I don’t get into the whole pop or hardcore rap mode to pump up before games,” she said. “I listen to music my parents listened to, like Earth, Wind and Fire or The Temptations. It makes me looser.”

The nineteen year old’s music preference adds to her self-described quirkiness. As a matter of fact, her fellow freshman teammates have a specific tag to qualify her place among the young group.

“They call me the geek of the group,” Bass said. “I don’t think I’m nerdy. I just have nerdy tendencies. They [the fellow freshmen] are always like, ‘What are you doing, Chelsea? Where did that come from?’ I’m goofy I guess.”

That she and the core youth on the team are so close is good for a Texas team loaded with young talent. Bass said she and her fellow youngsters want to learn from the team’s veterans to accomplish their one goal — to win.

“Once [the freshmen] all got together and started playing, we all clicked,” she said. “We all know why we are here and that is to play hard and help this team. We push each other, and we are a big support system for one another.”

From a basketball perspective though, age doesn’t matter on the court. It is about how hard you work, and Bass has been working at basketball for a long time.

“There are videos of me when I could barely walk at the age of 2, and I was trying to dribble a basketball,” she said.

Her 17 years of practice and unwavering desire to win have helped her thus far. Bass has seen extended playing time lately and is expected to continue that trend Saturday against Kansas.

“I don’t care if I’m coming off the bench or starting, I just want to get into the game and work my hardest and do the little things and work in any way to help the team win. There is still a lot I need to improve on.”

With her nearly seven points a game, Bass is the team’s second best freshman scorer. She said one area of play she can make an improvement in is her defense.

Bass will need to make sure her defense is tight versus the Jayhawks as they play at a very fast, run-and-gun pace. Kansas, like Texas, is statistically in the conference’s top half of scoring offenses. They are also coming off an 81-53 blowout victory versus a physical
Colorado team.

For Bass, basketball is a sport that she is a humble student to, so no matter how quirky her teammates believe she may be off the court, no one can deny how seriously she pushes herself to hone her skills on it.

“I love playing here at Texas,” Bass said. “I just want to see this team win and keep winning.” 

Five games into Big 12 play and the Longhorns have given themselves a good, hard look in the mirror before facing their next opponent on the road tonight, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders.

Coach Gail Goestenkors understands that a little reflection is important for a team that must learn to overcome itself before overcoming its opponents. She said that her squad is always in positions to win, but it has allowed teams to steal games by way of a lack of focus.

When asked what her letter grade for the team would be, Goestenkors gave them a B- because they have yet to put together a complete game.

“We have got to learn to finish,” Goestenkors said. “When we get teams down by nine or 11 or 14, it’s then finding that way to put them away and not let them back in the game.”

The Longhorns (12-7, 1-4) are coming off a sloppy 63-56 victory over Oklahoma State, their first conference win of the season. They went through stretches of huge leads that they eventually squandered and then re-established.

Today they take their show on the road to one of the Big 12’s most intimidating places to play women’s basketball: Lubbock.

Freshman guard Chelsea Bass, who gives Texas a C+ thus far, said getting the initial win was something that came as a bit of relief for the Texas players who desperately need momentum.

“It felt so good to beat Oklahoma State, and I think it will push us a little bit more since we really want to get another one,” Bass said. “I just want to do the best I can and be there for my teammates because I know it’s a really tough place to play.”

The Lady Raiders (16-3, 3-2) are indeed a force to be reckoned with when playing on their home court. They are 11-0 at the United Spirit Arena, led by junior Kierra Mallard, their top scorer. Texas Tech has three players averaging double digits in conference play.

Goestenkors expects the Lady Raiders to come out hungry.

“We know it’s going to be a battle,” she said. “They gave Baylor a heck of a run the other night, so I’m sure they have a lot of confidence.”

Statistically, Texas boasts a high-scoring counterattack. All but two of Texas’ 12 wins this season have been by double-digit margins, and the Longhorns are averaging around 82 points a game. The Lady Raiders average nearly 67 points per game.

So with the Longhorns’ scoring statistics taking ranks, why are the Lady Raiders off to such a hot start as compared with Texas’ cold one?

Bass says it is a matter of winning the battle of the boards.
“They are a great rebounding team and that’s something we struggle with,” Bass said. “We have to force them out of the paint and grab some rebounds of our own if we want to win.”
Texas Tech snags nearly 10 more rebounds than its opponents as compared with Texas’ four rebound advantage.
Junior guard Ashleigh Fontenette said the Texas Tech matchup will be a good barometer for how well the rest of the season shapes up.
“We are turning our ship around, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Fontenette said. “Texas Tech is a great team and it’s not going to be easy. This game is really important.”
Fontenette agrees more with Goestenkors that the team is playing at around a B grade level. But Bass, Fontenette and Goestenkors said they see in their team a potential for a “front-of-the-class” caliber squad.
“Its coming,” Bass said. “An A+ game is on the way.”