DALLAS - Moody Coliseum has always been a tough place for Louisiana Tech to play and Saturday afternoon should be no different as the Lady Techsters (10-4, 6-0 WAC) face SMU (13-3, 4-2 WAC) at 2 p.m.
Despite the fact Louisiana Tech is 15-0 all-time against SMU, including a 6-0 mark at Moody, the Lady Techsters have been tested in Dallas the past two years. Both times Tech pulled out wins but the memories of those contests and the knowledge of SMU's talented young team has Techster head coach Kurt Budke forewarning his troops.
"SMU is young but very talented," said Budke of this year's Mustang team that boasts only nine players, five of them freshmen. "They have one of the top post players in the conference and some excellent shooters on the perimeter. They also might be the only team we play this year that has more assists then turnovers.
"We have to be ready to match their intensity from the opening tip. We can't afford to play only one half of basketball; it has to be 40 minutes."
Budke will have the luxury of bringing senior guard Erica Taylor off his bench for the first time this year, although Taylor's amount of playing time remains very questionable. Taylor, the preseason WAC Player of the Year, returned to practice Tuesday and has continued to progress during the week.
"Obviously, we are ready for her to return but I want to be careful with her," Budke said. "I don't want her to overdo it and injure herself. She is dying to play and we want her out there but I'm going to be very careful with her. We'll see how she does."
Just the sight of Taylor in her Techster uniform should have her teammates fired up as Tech attempts to remain as the only undefeated team in the WAC.
"It'll be exciting to have her back out there," said sophomore forward Tamika Kursh. "We've missed her; we've missed her energy and her leadership. I know I'm excited about her coming back."
The addition of Taylor combined with the emergence of Kursh and sophomore Ty Moore inside and the continued progress of Tasha Crain and Shan Moore as scorers could have the Techsters close to clicking on all cyclinders.
SMU ranks among the WAC leaders in a number of statistical categories, including scoring defense (55.4 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.336) and rebounding margin (+5.3).
Redshirt freshman center Janielle Dodds leads the Mustangs offensively, averaging 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. Junior point guard Kendall Shead is No. 1 in the WAC in assist to turnover ratio, registering 77 assists and only 34 turnovers on the season.
The contest can be heard on KXKZ-FM 107.5 and via the Internet at www.z1075fm.com with the pregame show starting at 1:30 p.m.