Jacks to take on Summit, nation

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The biggest prize of the Jackrabbit women’s basketball team is no longer the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

No, the 2008-09 team can dream of making it to the big dance, just like any other school.

If the Jacks do land in the NCAA tournament, they will certainly have some good competition.

Within the first two games, the Jacks will go on the road against the Missouri Tigers and then come home to play the Wisconsin Badgers. The first three days have two big-time opponents, and the Jacks have one hard schedule after that.

The Jacks are ready for the challenge.

“Playing some good opponents will be really good for us,” said Jennifer Warkenthien, a senior and a starter last year. “As a team, we need to come out of the gate ready for our ‘A’ game.”

On Nov. 17, two SDSU seniors from Wisconsin (Morgan Meier and Ashlea Muckenhirn) will get their last chance to beat the Badgers in a regular season game.

The next two games do not get easier, as the Jacks host Utah and Oregon on Nov. 20 and 23.

Last year, the Jacks lost to Utah in Salt Lake City and beat Oregon at the “Pit” in Eugene, Ore.

Getting three games at home against good foes gives a boost to his team, said head coach Aaron Johnston.

“We went over to their places (Wisconsin, Utah and Oregon), and we played hard,” he said. “Now the girls get to be in their own beds and get to have their own fans. It’s going to be fun.”

After the Jacks play Oregon, they will spend the Thanksgiving break with the men’s team in Cancun, Mexico. The Jacks will play Maryland, Ill., and Montana Nov. 26 to 28.

Back in the U.S., the Jacks will play some tough games in December, as the Jacks will face off against Summit League tournament champions Oral Roberts (Okla.) on Dec. 6.

Due to not being eligible for the NCAA tournament, the Jacks were forced to play in the WNIT, while Oral Roberts won the Summit League Tournament and played in the field of 64.

“The revenge factor won’t really be an issue,” said Warkenthien. “That was last year, and this is this year. We can’t change the past.”

After Oral Roberts, the Jacks will head up the road to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota on Dec. 9.

The last time the Jacks played Minnesota in the Twin Cities, SDSU senior Maria Boever hit a memorable shot. In 2006-07, Boever scored her only points in the game on the final second in a 59-58 victory for SDSU.

SDSU has six players who will get their last chance for a victory in their home state of Minnesota: Stacie Oistad, Jennie Sunnarborg, Macie Michelson, Alison Anderson and Boever.

After the Minnesota Gophers, the Jacks will play Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash.

SDSU’s last game of the regular season is against Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla. The Jacks will then take part in the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls March 7 to 10.

The winner will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“This is our last year for us seniors, so we’ll try our hardest that we win the Summit,” said Muckenhirn.

The coaching staff is eager to see what kind of team SDSU is.

“We’re not yet where we need to be, but we have a lot of girls (that) can play a lot of minutes for us,” Johnston said. “It’s exciting.”