University of Missouri

MU women set NCAA Tournament as preseason goal

Updated: 2013-11-01T20:57:26Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— The Missouri women’s basketball team returned to the postseason last spring for the first time since 2006-07.

The Tigers, who finished 17-15 and tied for eighth in their first season in the Southeastern Conference, lost in the opening round of the Women’s NIT.

Still, it was a step in the right direction for coach Robin Pingeton’s team.

So, what’s the next step? Returning to the NCAA Tournament after missing out the last seven seasons would seem to be logical.

“The NCAA Tournament is definitely the goal and that’s what we’re going to strive to do,” freshman forward Jordan Frericks said.

Of course, there are a lot of obstacles and signposts between early November and the NCAAs.

“We certainly want to be in the middle of the pack in the SEC, and that’s again going to be a challenge for us,” Pingeton said. “But if you do that, you put yourself in a good position to be talked about on Selection Show Monday.”

It starts with senior Bri Kulas, a Shawnee Mission North graduate who played at Kansas State as a freshman and Johnson County Community College as a sophomore before transferring to Missouri last year.

Kulas was the Tigers’ leading scorer (13.8) and rebounder (6.5) as a junior.

Junior Morgan Eye, who was Missouri’s second leading scorer last season (12.2), also returns along with sophomore Lianna Doty at point guard.

Doty made the all-SEC freshman team last year after averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, but she also averaged 4.7 turnovers — a number that needs to come down as Doty becomes more consistent.

Frericks, an athletic 6-foot-1 forward with range, is expected to start inside with junior Bree Fowler, a Staley graduate, rounding out the starting five.

“It’s subject to change and I don’t know that we’re dead set on a lineup yet, but that’s where we’re at as of today,” Pingeton said.

Senior forward Tania Jackson, a Lawrence High graduate and former Kansas Jayhawk, will see increased minutes as she recovers from a knee injury.

Freshman Kayla McDowell and sophomore Michelle Hudyn added frontcourt depth, while freshman Lindsey Cunningham, sophomores Morgan and Maddie Stock and freshman Sierra Michaelis provide depth in the backcourt.

“I wouldn’t say NCAAs or bust,” Pingeton said. “We’re starting year four, but we’ve still got a really young team. We’ve been building this program from the trenches and still have a lot of work to do. … There’s going to be some bumps in the road yet and some challenging times, but I also think we’re going to be able to lay that next layer of the foundation in regards to building our program at Mizzou.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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