Stockton, Calif. – The 2011-12 women's basketball season begins on Saturday as the Pacific Tigers will take on the Academy of Art in an exhibition at the Alex G. Spanos Center at 5 p.m.
"We're excited," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "We're going to let everybody play and get some experience out there. It's really not about winning and losing, or your opponent. It's really about seeing what you have. It's a chance to see where we're at, what we need to get better with. I'm looking forward to seeing how the kids compete and having a chance to play against someone other than ourselves. They're tired of beating each other up every day."
The Tigers, with seven newcomers joining six returnees, will debut a new look as junior guard Erica McKenzie and sophomore guard Gena Johnson have swapped positions. Johnson will handle point guard duties, while McKenzie, who made 47 three-pointers last year, will play shooting guard.
The Tigers return six players from last year's squad, which advanced to the semifinals of the Big West tournament last season. Returning starters for the Tigers are Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif., a 5-9 sophomore who was named to the All-Big West Freshman Team last year), the 5-6 McKenzie (Sparks, Nev.) and 6-0 forward Kendall Rodriguez (La Habra, Calif.).
Pacific also returns 6-0 senior forward and 2009 Big West Sixth Woman of the Year Christina Thompson (Sacramento, Calif.), as well as 5-10 sophomore guard Sam Pettinger (Everett, Wash.) and 5-11 junior guard Ashley Wakefield (Inglewood, Calif.), who sat out last season after transferring from College of the Canyons.
Seven newcomers will join a Pacific squad: Kendall Kenyon, a 6-2 freshman post out of St. Mary's High School in Stockton and freshman guards Kristina Johnson (5-5, Santa Monica, Calif.), Claire Conricode (5-10, Bothell, Wash.), and Hailie Eackles (5-9, Sunnyvale, Calif.), along with junior college transfers Brianna Johnson (5-10 forward, Colorado Springs, Colo. from Central Arizona), Ashley Smith (6-1 forward, Eugene, Ore. from Lane Community) and Kelli Lewis (5-8 guard, Canyon Country, Calif. from College of the Canyons).
Pacific will open the regular season on Nov. 13 at Fairfield before a Nov. 15 match-up at No. 4 Connecticut.