Texas to use exhibition as tune-up for season

Sameer Bhuchar

The Longhorns are still preparing for the start of the season, but fans have not yet gotten a chance to see this team with a new look perform. Tonight they will.

Still in fine-tuning mode, the No. 17 Texas women’s basketball team will play Trinity in a home exhibition game tonight. And although the outcome of the game won’t show up in the win-loss columns, the game has implications for how the team moves forward with the rest of the season.

“We will do some different things,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors, in regards to her team’s ever changing identity. “I have got five freshmen — six newcomers. So we are going to change things up a little bit, run probably more than we have in the past and use some traps and some different presses to try to utilize our speed and our guard strength.”

The Trinity matchup is an opportune time to start testing out her different lineup options, especially with heralded sophomore Cokie Reed out for the season.

Even though the majority of the team is young, Texas retained pivotal upperclassmen Ashley Gayle, Ashleigh Fontenette, Kathleen Nash and Yvonne Anderson. With these returning players, Texas brings back 54 percent of its scoring from last season.

Watching how Gayle responds to increased time on the floor will also be pivotal in understanding how Texas primes for the rest of the season. Gayle, who will incur the minutes lost by Reed’s absence, has always been a strong post presence in the paint but not the highest scorer. Goestenkors is pleased with the improvements Gayle has made to her game.

“You’ll see vast improvement in her offensive game,” she said. “Are we going to rely on her day-in and day-out offensively? No, but she does need to help us, and I know she will because she’s improved. She’s also one of our best screeners, so I think we’re going to use her a lot, bringing post players outside and screening to get some of our guards some looks as well.”

Gayle may not be the strongest scorer but her defensive skills make up for it. She set the single-season blocks record during her sophomore campaign with 103 and became the first player in school history to eclipse the 100-blocks mark in just one year.

The free exhibition game tonight is at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.