Two Lady Frog Shining Stars
Nov. 2, 2001
After enjoying the most successful season in school history, the Lady Frogs are ready to turn up the tempo even more on head coach Jeff Mittie's high-octane fastbreak offense, while also extending the up-tempo pressure defense to the full court. For this style of play to succeed, his players need to have a certain skill set.
They must be versatile in the motion offense, athletic on both ends of the court, possess good ball handling and passing skills, and have the ability to create and take advantage of mismatches. Two shining stars that meet and exceed these requirements are Tiffany Evans and Sandora Irvin.
Evans, a 6-2 sophomore from Carrollton Newman Smith, was pressed into duty early during her rookie season, and she responded big time. Evans was chosen as TCU's Freshman of the Year, after setting a single-season record for blocked shots with 41, along with scoring 6.1 points and grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. The versatile Evans can take smaller defenders into the post, or step outside and shoot threes over taller opponents. She has the mental game and floor presence of a cagey veteran, and is one of TCU's top defenders.
Evans is pleased with her rookie season, and made an impressive showing early in the season against the experienced trees of Tennessee, scoring seven points and grabbing nine rebounds in only her second college game. "I think I did well overall last season," Evans said. "I stepped in and did the best I could when I had the opportunity."
"I need to step up a little more this year, and work on my ball-handling because we are a run-and-gun team. Also I need to finish my shots better."
When she began playing basketball as a youth, Evans played in the backcourt, but a quick growth spurt brought her into the paint. "I used to play guard, but between my eight and ninth grade years, I grew from 5-9 to 6-2, pretty quick growth spurt," recalls the easy-going Evans with her enchanting smile. "Now that I am in college, I have to get used to it again."
Heading into her last year of high school, Evans never envisioned she would be attending college in Fort Worth. "I wasn't looking at TCU at first, because it was close to home. But my mom said there were new coaches there and I should go check it out. I wasn't recruited until the new coaching staff came here. I went on my other visits, and didn't really have a good time. When I came here I loved the team and the surroundings, and knew that this was the place for me."
The child psychology major thinks that last May's "Lady Frog Trip Down Under" will pay big dividends this season.
"It was a once in the lifetime experience," Evans said. "It was neat to see a different culture and how they do things. It really helped us gel together. We are flowing well together now and I think this is carrying over from Australia. We interacted together and got to know each other a little more because we were around each other the whole time. It made us very close as a team."
So were you one of the Lady Frogs to try eating kangaroo? "No," Evans laughs. "Once we were around them and petted them, I wasn't so sure about eating them."
Wise choice. Just like her decision to come to TCU.
As one of the highest recruited players in the nation, Sandora Irvin had plenty of offers to consider, and plenty of people telling her where she should go. But she wanted to do her own thing. So she politely said no thanks to Tennessee, sorry but not interested to UConn and all the other women's basketball powers, and decided to become part of a TCU's fast-rising program.
"I really liked the school and the coaches," Irvin said. "It was a place where I could help the team and make a difference. It was the best place for me. It's more fun to come from the bottom and go to the top. I want to win the conference this year and go further in the NCAA's, at least to the Sweet 16, and prove a lot of people wrong."
While Irvin fine-tunes her all-around game, the Fort Lauderdale native, who averaged 22 points, 17 rebounds, 8 blocks and four assists last season, will likely make her mark inside the paint first. The 6-4 freshman can flat out sky.
"My strength is my ability to jump and block shots," says Irvin, who wants to develop an overall game like her hero, Sheryl Swoopes. "I like to be on the outside, playing the guard game and being an all-around player. I also need to work on my post moves and be more physical. In high school, I could just take people off the dribble. College basketball is very different. A much higher tempo."
The niece of former Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin is also practicing something no Lady Frog has ever done before. "I am working on dunking right now. I can dunk a volleyball. I am close with a basketball, but when I get up there I turn it instead of throwing it down. Its just a matter of time before I can do it."
Irvin is glad to have her high school teammate, point guard Maranda Hankerson as her roommate, as they both adjust to attending college. "Having Maranda around is very cool. She is my woman and someone I can relate too. If I get a little homesick, she can understand why."
Basketball wasn't the first love for the marketing major, who plans to eventually have a career in sports marketing. "I didn't like basketball when I was growing up. I only ran track and played softball in middle school. In high school, I played basketball and flag football."
Despite her Parade and USA Today All-American status, Irvin is one of the nicest, easy to get along with, friendliest people you will ever meet. Destined for stardom on the basketball court, Irvin still has the youthful excitement, energy and exuberance of the teenager next door. Her favorite place in the Fort Worth area? "Six Flags! I love Six Flags."
Lady Frog fans hope she loves banners too. Conference USA Championship banners.