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Women's Basketball Hosts Slovakia Nov. 6, LA All-Stars Nov. 11
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  11/05/2001

Nov. 5, 2001

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Bruins Face Slovakia In Exhibition Opener Tuesday - UCLA opens the 2001-02 campaign with an exhibition game against Delta Kosice of Kosice, Slovakia in Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7:00 pm. Delta Kosice plays in the Slovakian First Division. It has finished second in that league in 1999, third in 2000 and sixth in 2001. The Slovakian team has gone 2-1 so far in their U.S. trip, losing 81-50 to Loyola Marymount Nov. 1, defeating Pepperdine, 74-64, on Nov. 3 and falling to UC Irvine, 87-55, on Nov. 4. Slovakia will play at UC Santa Barbara Nov. 5 prior to facing the Bruins.

LA All-Stars Next Up For Bruins - The LA All-Stars will be UCLA's final exhibition challenge, facing the Bruins on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2:00 pm.

Outlook - Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back all 12 players and adds three newcomers for the 2001-02 season. The experience level and overall team size have each been upgraded from last season.

After beginning last season without eight of its top nine returning scorers, the Bruins showed steady improvement as the season progressed and finished the year by sweeping the Washington schools to complete a winning home Pac-10 record. Included in the season win column were victories over Washington, a team which advanced to the Elite Eight, NCAA participant Oregon, a seventh win in eight meetings with USC and a victory over nationally-ranked Arizona.

Michelle Greco, the Pac-10's leading scorer, is back to key the Bruin hopes. Greco became the 19th Bruin to reach the 1,000-point level last season. She also finished fourth in the conference in steals and with 50 made three-point shots set a school record for a single season.

Senior center Malika Leatham started all 29 games last season and averaged 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Junior Natalie Nakase, also a starter in all 29 games, ranked fifth in the league in both assists (4.45) and steals (2.21).

Two-sport standouts Kristee Porter (volleyball) and Whitney Jones (soccer) are each expected to join the team in early December. Porter ranked second in the Pac-10 in rebounding and second at UCLA with a season total of 39 blocked shots. She finished the season by scoring in double figures in 11 straight games, including a 32-point outburst versus Washington State. Jones, a starter in the final 17 contests of the campaign, ranked eighth in the league in steals (1.83) and scored a career-best 21 points in the win over Washington.

Juniors Jalina Bradley and Natalie Jarrett and sophomores Jamila Veasley and Gennifer Arranaga offer a veteran spark at the guard and forward positions. Shalada Allen and Stacy Robertson offer experience in the frontcourt. Freshmen centers Krystle Johnson and Sissy Pickett, at 6-4 and 6-7, respectively, will offer needed height in the paint. Guard Brianna Winn, at 5-10, will become the tallest guard on the roster. Walk-on junior Melissa Maurin rounds out the roster.

Greco Named to Pre-Season All-Conference Team by Media - Michelle Greco was one of three returning all-conference players who were selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team. Greco was joined by Stanford's Nicole Powell and Oregon State's Felicia Ragland. USC forward Ebony Hoffman and the 2000 Player of the Year Shaquala Williams of Oregon were also named to the team.

Bruins Picked To Finish Eighth In Pac-10 - The Pac-10 women's basketball media picked UCLA to finish tied for eighth in the conference in a pre-season poll. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Arizona State, Washington, USC, Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State, UCLA, Cal and Washington State.

The Bruins were also picked eighth (tied) in a pre-season vote of the conference coaches. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Washington, USC, Arizona State, Arizona (T-5th), Oregon (T-5th), Oregon State, California (T-8th) and Washington State.

Oregon to Host First Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament - The 2001-02 season will conclude with the first-ever Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be hosted by Oregon on March 1-4. All conference schools will participate in the tournament, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2002 NCAA tournament. The team that finishes the regular season atop the Pac-10 standings, based on the results of the double round robin play, is the conference champion.

Bruins to Open Season At Spartan Classic vs. Liberty - UCLA will meet Liberty University of Lynchburg, VA in the season opener at the Spartan Chevrolet Classic hosted by Michigan State on Nov. 16. UCLA and Liberty have never met. The Lady Flames, champions of the Big South conference last season, have advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the past five seasons. They return four starters from last year's team which went 18-12.

Multi-Sport Stars Expected to Join Team In December - Two of UCLA's finest athletes are expected to join the Bruin squad in December - three-sport standout Kristee Porter and two-sport athlete Whitney Jones. Porter is a star player on the UCLA women's volleyball team, earning all-district and all-conference honors her first two seasons and All-America honors in 2000. She has set numerous UCLA and Pac-10 records for coach Andy Banachowski. Porter also competes in the triple jump for the UCLA women's track and field team and qualified for the Pac-10 Championships in that event. Jones is a starting midfielder for the highly-ranked UCLA women's soccer team.

The 2000-01 Bruins Highlights -
*Senior Michelle Greco became the fourth Bruin to lead the Pac-10 in scoring
*Greco was named a first-team all-conference performer, extending the school's streak of having at least one player named to the all-Pac-10 team in each of the 15 seasons of the league
*Greco set a school record with 50 made three-point shots
*Greco became the 19th Bruin to reach the 1,000-point mark
*Kristee Porter's 39 blocks (in 22 games) was the second-highest total in school history and the highest per game average ever (1.77)
*Whitney Jones' 21 made three-point shots placed her fifth on the all-time freshman list
*Natalie Nakase's eight steals against Oregon tied her for the eighth-best single game performance ever by a UCLA player
*Malika Leatham (v. Long Beach State) and Kristee Porter (v. Old Dominion) each blocked five shots in a game to tie for second on the all-time school list
*The attendance at the Washington game (7,036) was the seventh-highest home crowd count in UCLA history
*UCLA led the Pac-10 in steals (11.17) per game
*UCLA played 21 of its 29 games against teams which advanced to post-season tournaments ... 15 teams managed to win at least 20 games

Player Bio Updates

#1 Natalie Nakase - Starter in all 29 games last season ... Finished the year ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in assists (4.45) and steals (2.21) ... Handed out a career best nine assists at Stanford ... Had eight steals in the win over Oregon, eighth on the all-time school list.

#4 Kristee Porter - Also a standout on the Bruin volleyball and track and field teams ... Saw her first action in the Dec. 18 game at Old Dominion ... Starter in 19 games and saw action in 22 games ... Ranked second in the conference in rebounding (8.1), 11th in scoring (13.0) and third in blocked shots (1.77) ... Finished the year by scoring in double figures in the last 11 games of the season .

#10 Whitney Jones - Starting midfielder on the soccer team who is expected to join the team in December ... Starter in the final 17 games of the season ... Ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in steals (1.83) and scored a career-best 21 points in the win over Washington.

#13 Gennifer Arranaga - Appeared in 28 games off the bench ... Scored a career-best 13 points vs. San Diego ... Scored 11 points in the win over Oregon ... Had six steals vs. Georgia ... Had five rebounds and 11 points at Colorado.

#14 Natalie Jarrett - Starter in 10 games last season ... Saw action in 23 games overall ... Had nine points against Utah and Pepperdine ... Pulled down seven rebounds at New Mexico and vs. Duke.

#20 Michelle Greco - Starter in 27 games and led the Pac-10 in scoring with a 19.9 average ... Led the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (.865), ranked fourth in steals (2.33) and sixth in made three-point shots per game (1.85) ... First-team all-conference ... Had career-best 34 points in the win over Long Beach State ... Led the team in scoring in 21 games ... Had 16 games of 20 points or more.

#21 Jalina Bradley - Starter in 12 games last season ... Led the Bruins with a career-best 12 points and five assists against Utah ... Had 11 points off the bench at Stanford ... Scored 10 in the win over Oregon as a starter.

#32 Malika Leatham - Starter in all 29 games at center ... Scored a Pac-10 high of 14 points at Cal ... Scored 13 points in the win over USC ... Scored a career-best 16 points and had five blocked shots in the win over Long Beach State ... Her five blocked shots vs. Long Beach State tied her for second on the all-time single game list at UCLA.

#33 Shalada Allen - Saw action in 26 games and had one start ... Had 14 points and three rebounds at Colorado ... Pulled down a career-best seven rebounds in the win over Long Beach State ... Came off the bench to score six points and grab five rebounds vs. Duke.

#35 Jamila Veasley - Saw action in all 29 games off the bench ... Scored a career-best nine points and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds in the win over Oregon ... Had eight rebounds in the win over Washington State ... Sister, Aisha, played for UCLA from 1995-98. Four-time all-league selection in high school ... First-team all-CIF the last two seasons ... Named co-MVP of her league ... Her sister, Aisha, played at UCLA from 1995-98.

#42 Stacy Robertson - Saw action in 15 games ... Her season was cut short by a knee surgery after she suffered a torn ACL during practice in late February ... Had a best of six points vs. San Diego ... Suffered a torn ACL in her other knee in the first week of pre-season practices and is likely out for the season.

The Freshman Class - Krystle Johnson is a 6-4 forward/center from Hoover, AL High School ... Her free throws in the final seconds of the State championship game broke a 41-all tie and gave Hoover a 43-41 win ...Johnson finished her career as the second-leading scorer in her school's history.

Sissy Pickett is a 6-7 center from Martin High School in Coushatta, LA ... Scored over 1,000 points in each of her four high school seasons ... Averaged 27.7 points, 13.9 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game as a senior.

Brianna Winn is a 5-10 guard from The Bishop's School in La Jolla, CA ... She helped lead her team to the Division 4 state championship as a senior ... The first-team All-CIF performer averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as senior.

UCLA In Season Openers - The Bruins are 19-8 all-time in season openers and lost their opener last season against Duke, 80-52, at New Mexico. The Bruins' game vs. Liberty marks the fourth consecutive year UCLA has faced an NCAA tournament team in its season opener. The previous three seasons, the Bruins have faced a ranked team in their opener. In 2000, the Bruins lost to No. 5 Duke, in 1999, the Bruins defeated No. 8 North Carolina 69-65, and in 1998, UCLA lost to No. 17 Notre Dame, 99-82.

Looking Ahead - UCLA will open the regular season home schedule against Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 4:00 pm in Pauley Pavilion. The Buckeyes return four starters from last year's WNIT championship team which went 22-11.

Bruins Face Another Tough Schedule - This year's schedule is once again a challenging one. Non-conference games with teams from last year's NCAA tournament field include - Liberty, Utah, Baylor, Ohio State and Colorado. The Bruins will face NCAA tournament teams from inside the conference in Oregon, Arizona State, Washington and Stanford. Local road matchups with Long Beach and San Diego are also on tap.

Head Coach Kathy Olivier - Now entering her eighth season (owns a 121-108 overall record) as UCLA head coach, Kathy Olivier has steadily built the program to reflect her own positive, upbeat and outgoing personality.

In 2001, Olivier guided a team which playing without eight of its top nine scorers from the previous season to a winning home record in Pac-10 play and wins over three nationally-ranked teams. In 2000, she saw her team reach the NCAA tournament for a school record third straight season. The squad also set a Bruin home attendance record by averaging over 3,700 fans. Maylana Martin became just the third player to ever earn All-Pac-10 honors in four straight seasons. Olivier became just the second coach at UCLA and the 11th ever in the Pac-10 to earn victory number 100, which came against San Diego State.

In 1999, she led her Bruin team to the school's first ever Pac-10 conference title and an unprecedented second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for the program. The team totaled the most wins (26) since the 1981 season and advanced further in the NCAA tournament (Regional final) than any previous UCLA team. The team put together back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1970's. In addition, the 1999 Bruin team finished with its highest ranking ever (No. 7) in the USA Today poll.

In 1998, she guided UCLA to what was then its best finish ever (tie for second) in the Pac-10, its best winning percentage in the last 17 seasons and the first 20-win season since 1992.

Quoting the Coach -
"Michelle (Greco) became one of the best guards on the West Coast last season," said Olivier. She had some of her best games against the ranked teams we played. This year, she will look to maintain her high level of performance and further elevate her game to prove she is one of the best in the nation."

"It is a very exciting time of the year for me," says Olivier. "This year's team has added game experience from a year ago. Last year everyone on the team, outside of Greco, was basically at the same level of experience. The kids now know a little more about what it takes to achieve success. Last year, we added quickness to the lineup. This year, we add some size."

"Intensity and determination will be a couple of our team strengths ," said Olivier. "We are more balanced inside and out, with several players who can be successful at multiple positions. That will give us more coaching options with which to attack."

"Once again we are playing a high-quality pre-season schedule. There is no better way to help prepare for the Pac-10. I see the conference as being as competitive as ever. As we saw last year, the Pac-10 is strong from one through 10, and anything can happen on a given day. The conference tournament should be one of the most exciting events in the nation."


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