Aztec Women's Basketball Looks To Step It Up In The Front Court In 2004-05

Nov. 9, 2004


Editor's note: The following is part II of the 2004-05 SDSU Women's Basketball season preview. Today's story focuses on the Aztec front court, while Wednesday's will tackle the SDSU back court.

Of the two groups, the front court will be the most changed from a year ago. SDSU will look to replace a pair of starters and four total letterwinners, who combined to pull down almost 48 percent of the team's rebounds.

"We're a little thin in the front court," Tomey said. "We're not really big, but we feel like we're fairly skilled. With our style of play, we don't necessarily have to have someone camped down at the blocks. We're hoping that they'll be able to draw people away from the basket and either open up opportunities for themselves or teammates."

Leading the charge will be SDSU co-captain and lone senior Lindsey Casey (Odessa, Texas). Casey is by far the most seasoned of the group, having played in the NCAA Final Four with Oklahoma and at the National Junior College Tournament with Midland College.

Coming off knee surgery in April 2003, Casey's first season on The Mesa saw her appear in all 28 games, mostly off the bench, with the lone exception being a start against Oral Roberts in mid-December. She averaged 2.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest and ranked third on the team in blocks.

"We're going to need great leadership from her this year," Tomey said. "She needs to be a good mentor to our younger players and we need her to rebound and defend the basket area. She's been slowed by injuries in the past and now that both knees are healthy, I want to see her come back and have an exceptional year."

Casey showed a glimpse of what she was capable of with a season-high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the team's victory versus Texas Pan-American. Her experience in big games also came in handy in SDSU's upset of Colorado State, as she logged a season-high seven rebounds and iced the win by making a pair of free throws.

Sophomore Erin Jackson (Sparks, Nev.) also returns after logging minutes in 25 contests a year ago. Jackson, who averaged 1.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, was bothered for much of her freshman campaign by an ankle injury after solid outings in the team's exhibition games.

"Erin had a typical up and down freshman season," Tomey said. "Her progress was stalled by an ankle injury that plagued her all year long, but she is a strong player, who has worked hard on her skills. If Erin comes back with the confidence and physical strength from a summer of hard work, she has a great chance to help us."

The team's lone left-hander, Jackson had a season-best five points and three assists at Cal State Fullerton and pulled down eight boards in 22 minutes against Oral Roberts.

"Erin's got a lot of offensive tools," Tomey said. "She can take a bigger player away from the basket and score or she can get the ball off the ground and take you hard to the basket. She's a crafty left-hander, who can also put her back to the basket and score from around the block."

The Aztecs will also boast a pair of new faces in the post with red-shirt freshman Jordie Smith (Fort Collins, Colo.) and freshman Ashley Cheesman (Orem, Utah.).

The only center on this year's roster, Smith was forced to sit out the entire 2004-05 campaign with a stress facture in a vertebrae in her back. While her injury also kept her out of practices, she was able to observe and attend every team function, giving her a year to watch and learn about basketball at the collegiate level.

"We're anxious to get her on the floor," Tomey said. "She's worked hard to build her conditioning and get physically and mentally ready to play. We recruited her for her ability to think the game. She has a solid basketball IQ and she's someone we think will be competitive in our conference. She's coming into this season with some big expectations for herself."

A highly-touted recruit, Cheesman led Mountain View High School to four straight Utah state titles, including a national championship as a freshman. The Bruins were ranked in the top 10 in the nation each of her four seasons, combining for a 93-7 record. As a senior, she averaged a team-best 15.6 points per game and 12.6 rebounds per game and was named the MVP of the state tournament.

"We think she was as good as anyone at her position her senior year in high school," Tomey said. "She's been a proven winner for four years and a go-to scorer, not only around the basket, but also out to the three-point line. We think she can come in and contribute immediately for us."

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