Tyra White is a senior guard and the leading returning scorer for defending champion Texas A&M. She has hopes of becoming a journalist and offers this preview of the eighth-ranked Aggies’ preparations for Tuesday’s game at No. 2 Connectciut

By TYRA WHITE,  For The Associated Press

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) _ No. 8 Texas A&M, the defending national champion, has made a habit of following Jim Valvano’s motto: “Don’t ever give up.”

It’s especially appropriate this week as the Aggies prepare for Tuesday night’s game at No. 2 Connecticut, an early season showdown that’s part of the Jimmy V Women’s Basketball Classic. The Aggies (6-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, to Purdue on Sunday, and now get the Huskies (7-0) on the road two days later.

As the team’s leading returning scorer, I know that I will get everyone’s best shot every game. It adds a lot of pressure and encourages me to work even harder to take good shots and help my teammates improve. After hitting the winning shot in our game against Stanford last year to put us in the Final Four, I know my teammates are expecting another big year.

Coach Gary Blair has led the Aggies to six straight NCAA tournament appearances and last year’s 33 wins were the most in school history. We weren’t favored to win it all, but beat Baylor to get to the Final Four before a win over Notre Dame gave the school its first title.

The matchup against UConn will be our toughest test so far this season. The Huskies are rolling and take pride in their home court, where they have an NCAA record 90-game winning streak.

We lost three starters from last year’s team, including leading scorer Danielle Adams, but got a boost from transfer Kelsey Bone, a McDonald’s All-American like me. She played one season at South Carolina before transferring to A&M, where she sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Bone, a 6-foot-4 center, is expected to pick up some of the slack with Adams gone. She understands her role on the team, but believes she’s a different kind of player than Adams and wants to show her unique skills.

“I’m just excited to come out and actually play again after sitting out,” Bone said. “It is exciting to come and be able to
play a top team like UConn on such a big stage.”

Senior Sydney Carter was a key contributor in last year’s championship run. With the loss of Sydney Colson from last year’s team, Carter is the floor general and the defensive “superwoman” of this team.
“It is about doing the little things that other teams would not
think about doing,” Carter said. “It’s about preparing mentally
and physically.”

In preparing for a physical opponent like Connecticut, there are many hours spent watching film, getting in extra shooting and scouting the other team. We are known for defense and pride ourselves in that area. Our coaches know it.

“It’s not what they do, it’s how they do it,” associate head coach Vic Schaefer said.

The Aggies’ practices are always intense  and Schaefer is demanding. He said he works constantly to remind his players that how they perform in practice will translate directly into their performance in games.

“We practice how we play,” Schaefer tells the Aggies each day.      With that in mind, we expect Tuesday’s game to ave the intensity of a NCAA tournament game and we are eager to showcase the team to a national audience.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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