The St. Mary’s University Men’s and Women’s basketball seasons tip off on Nov. 22 as the Rattler men head to Hawaii and the Rattler women visit San Angelo.
The men’s team opens their season on Friday, Nov. 22, at Chaminade University in Honolulu and then take on Hawaii Pacific University on Monday, Nov. 25. The season opener is the first meeting between these two Marianist-led universities since November 1998, when the Silverswords defeated the Rattlers 62-60. The Hawaii Pacific game will be broadcast over the Internet via the HPU website http://web2.hpu.edu/index.cfm?section=seawarriorsports – the broadcast starts at 7:15 p.m. HST (11:15 p.m. CST). The Rattlers were on the short side of their 1998 match-up with Hawaii Pacific, losing to the Sea Warriors 67-57.
The women’s team opens its season at the Belle Classic, hosted by Angelo State University in San Angelo. The Rattler women meet Midwestern State Lady Indians at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22 and take on the Belles of Angelo State on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6:00 p.m. St. Mary’s was victorious in its last meetings against these teams, beating Midwestern State 63-56 in the 2000 Lady Rattler Classic and defeating Angelo State 90-68 in the 2001 Lady Rattler Classic.
The Rattler women, ranked 14th in the Women’s Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25, look to continue the success of last year’s 26-3 season. Last year saw the St. Mary’s women win their first Heartland Conference title en route to their first NCAA Division II National Tournament appearance. They fell in the South Central regional final to Southeastern Oklahoma State, the eventual national runner-up. The Rattlers, who were ranked 13th in last season’s final USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division II Women’s Basketball Poll, had a perfect 10-0 Heartland Conference Record. Paige Clawson, the 2001-02 Heartland Conference Coach of the Year, is in her second season as the St. Mary’s women’s coach. Her staff includes assistant coach Laura Walker, who returned to her alma mater this summer. Walker, a Kodak NAIA All-American for the Rattlers in 1996-97, was the head coach at Ranger Junior College in 2001-2002.
The Rattler men are confident about their ability to bounce back from last season’s 11-15 mark. They are coached by Buddy Meyer, who is in his 25th season as the Rattler’s head coach. Meyer enters the year with a 471-222 record, including a 195-58 conference mark compiled over nine years in the Big State Conference, 12 in the Heart of Texas Conference and two in the Heartland Conference. Meyer staff includes assistant coach Jim Zeleznak, his assistant of 25 years, graduate assistant coach Bubba Meyer, his son and a former Rattler point guard. Student assistant coaches for the season are former Rattlers Marcus Fields and Andre Jackson.
The top three scorers from last year’s team will lead the women’s squad this year: junior forward Erin Griffin, senior post Martha Brinker and senior guard Meosha Nash. Griffin was a 2001-02 Kodak/WBCA Division II All-American and Griffin and Brinker were named to the Daktronics Division II South Central All-Region Team. Griffin was also named the Heartland Conference Player of the Year and joined on the all-conference first team by Brinker and Nash. New to the lineup for 2002-03 are senior point guard Neno Anguiano and sophomore forward Eva Christian, who both transferred from Lamar University. Both were starters last season for the D-I Lady Cards and both were top players at Judson High School, located in Converse, a San Antonio suburb. There are six sophomores on the St. Mary’s women’s roster – five of whom were are last year’s team.
The Rattler men expect to be lead this season by a mix of returning players, notable transfers and promising freshman. New to the team are 6-foo-5 senior point guard Antonio Falu, 6-2 senior shooting guard Jerald “Moe” Jenkins, 6-5 junior post Solomon “Solo” Bass and 6-9 junior post Pedro Brito. Falu transferred from Valparaiso University, Jenkins transferred from the University of Idaho, Bass transferred from Kansas City Community College and Brito hails from Margarita Island, Venezuela. They will be joined on the court by 6-8 freshmen Cody Spring from Gonzalez and 6-9 Ben McCain of Kerrville. These new players will join returning players such as junior guard Ky O’Dell, who lead the Rattlers in assists last year, and sophomore wing Billy White, last year’s Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year. O’Dell and White were both named to the All-Heartland Conference honorable mention squad. White and Spring are former teammates from Gonzalez High School.
The Rattler men return for their home opener over Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov. 29-30 before taking on the University of Texas-San Antonio in the Alamodome on Dec. 4. The first home game for the St. Mary’s women will not be until Dec. 19, when they again host the Lady Rattler Classic. In the meantime they will appear in tournaments hosted by West Texas A&M in Canyon, by Incarnate Word at UIW and by North Dakota State in Fargo, North Dakota.