1996-97 Facts & Figures, Stats & Stories
A Look At The Boilermakers -- The Purdue women's basketball team, under first-year head coach Nell Fortner, finished the 1996-97 season with a 17-11 overall record. The Boilermakers were tri-Big Ten Conference champions with Illinois and Michigan State. All three schools were 12-4 in conference play. The Boilermakers earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament by virtue of their 3-1 record against Illinois (2-0) and Michigan State (1-1). Michigan State was 2-2 against Purdue (1-1) and Illinois (1-1), while Illinois was 1-3 against Purdue (0-2) and Michigan State (1-1). Purdue was the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament Mideast Regional and defeated No. 9 seed Maryland 74-48 in the first round March 14 before losing to top-seeded, No. 2-ranked and eventual national runner-up Old Dominion 69-65 in overtime March 16. The Boilermakers played all four teams that advanced to the 1997 NCAA Women's Final Four: Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Stanford and Tennessee.
Champs, Champs, Champs, Champs --
Jannon Roland and Stephanie White. (File photo)
The Boilermakers have won four Big Ten titles in the 1990s (1991, 1994-co, 1995-co and 1997-tri). That total equals Iowa for the most championships this decade.
Polling Place -- The Boilermakers have been ranked in the Associated Press poll for 131 weeks in their history and have been in the top 10 for 53 weeks (40 percent of their ranked weeks). Purdue's all-time highest Associated Press ranking is No. 2 in the 1994-95 preseason poll, while its highest USA Today/CNN plateau is No. 3 the week of Dec. 31, 1990. The Boilermakers were ranked No. 24 in both polls the week of Feb. 24 (their only rankings of the regular season) and were No. 23 in the final USA Today/CNN poll.
It's Not How You Start, But How You Finish -- Purdue ended the season winning seven of its last 10 games, nine of its last 13 and 11 of its last 16 after standing 6-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten on Jan. 5.
Head Coach Nell Fortner -- Nell Fortner completed her first season at Purdue and as a collegiate head coach with a 17-11 record. She was named the fifth women's basketball coach in school history April 25, 1996. Prior to arriving in West Lafayette, Fortner was an assistant coach with the 1995-96 USA National Team and, subsequently, on the staff of the gold-medal winning Centennial Olympic squad in Atlanta. Fortner was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech from 1991-95 and at Stephen F. Austin from 1987-90. Fortner was named the Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year in balloting by the conference coaches. On April 1 she was named head coach of the USA Basketball Women's National Team Program.
Fortner Finalist For National Coach-of-the-Year: Nell Fortner was one of 10 finalists for the Associated Press' National Coach-of-the-Year. The others: Geno Auriemma (Connecticut), Leon Barmore (Louisiana Tech), Joan Bonvicini (Arizona), Theresa Grentz (Illinois), Sue Gunter (Louisiana State), Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina), Wendy Larry (Old Dominion), Carol Ross (Florida) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford). Fortner finished third in the national media voting behind Auriemma and Larry.
"Don't Underestimate The Power Of The Force Purdue" -- First off, apologies to the Star Wars trilogy. The Boilermakers were picked to finish in eighth place in the Big Ten in the preseason coaches' poll. But Purdue has not finished so low in the conference since the 1983-84 season (10th place), and this year's team was not about to make history in that dubious fashion. The Boilermakers have finished third or better in the Big Ten in eight of the last 10 seasons (they were sixth in 1992-93 and fourth in 1995-96).
Put On Your Dancing Shoes -- The Boilermakers have made eight trips to the "Big Dance," the NCAA Tournament, in their history (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997). They reached the Sweet 16 in 1990 and 1992, the Women's Final Four in 1994 and the Elite Eight in 1995. Purdue finished runner-up at the 1988 NWIT in Amarillo, Texas.
To Be The Best, You Have To Play The Best -- Purdue's non-conference opponents compiled an overall record of 180-83 during the regular season. That's a snappy .684 winning percentage. The breakdown by team: Stanford 30-1, Old Dominion 29-1, Kansas 24-5, Notre Dame 27-6, Tennessee 23-10, Rice 16-11, Ball State 13-13, Providence 13-14 and Loyola Marymount 5-22. The Boilermakers' schedule was ranked the second-toughest in the nation.
Defense Wins Championships -- The Boilermakers led the Big Ten in scoring defense by allowing an average of just 59.3 points in conference games (59.8 points in all games). They limited eight opponents to fewer than 50 points -- Loyola Marymount (49), Providence (47), Ball State (48), Michigan at home (44), Penn State (49), Iowa on the road (48), Wisconsin at home (43) and Maryland (48).
Free Throw Shooting Paid Big Dividends -- Purdue shot at a school season-record 74.1 percent clip from the free throw line (424-for-572). The previous standard was 71.6 percent (416-for-581) by the 1985-86 team. The Boilermakers made more free throws than their opponents attempted (424-395).
The Magic Numbers Are 60 and 80 -- The Boilermakers have a 132-5 record when holding their opponent to 60 or fewer points over the last 10 years. They were 12-2 in such games this season (losses to Old Dominion and Indiana). Purdue is 103-3 in games it has scored 80 or more points over the last 10 years. The Boilermakers were 5-0 in those games this season.
That's The Ticket -- Purdue averaged a school-record 7,329 fans per home game to rank second in the Big Ten (behind Wisconsin at 8,536). That figure ranked sixth in the nation behind Tennessee (10,500), Connecticut (10,474), Wisconsin, Texas Tech (7,841) and Texas (7,466). The Boilermakers drew a season-high crowd of 11,606 against Wisconsin on Feb. 16, the second-largest gathering in school history and now the 10th-largest in Big Ten history.
Purdue Is The Indiana Basketball University -- Over the last 10 years, the Boilermakers are 30-3 against schools from the state of Indiana. In 1996-97 they defeated Notre Dame (73-58) and Ball State (67-48) and lost to Indiana twice (50-51 and 54-61).
Now A Big Ten Power -- Prior to the 1987-88 season, the Boilermakers were 47-99 (.322) in the Big Ten. Since then they are 134-45 (.749) with winning records against eight schools (18-0 against Michigan, 17-1 against Illinois, 18-2 against Indiana, 17-2 against Minnesota, 15-4 against Michigan State, 14-4 against Wisconsin, 13-5 against Northwestern and 10-9 vs. Iowa).
Now This Is March Madness -- The Boilermakers are 40-12 (.769) during the month of March over the last 10 years. They were 5-2 in 1988, 4-1 in 1989, 4-1 in 1990, 3-1 in 1991, 6-1 in 1992, 4-0 in 1993, 8-0 in 1994, 3-2 in 1995 and 2-2 in 1996 and 1-2 in 1997.
Top Tourney Team -- Purdue's .579 winning percentage (11-8 record) in NCAA Tournament games is the best of any Big Ten school. Second on the list is Ohio State (.565, 13-10), followed by Iowa (.542, 13-11), and Penn State (.500, 14-14).
The Setting -- Purdue was 9-1 at home, 7-8 on the road and 1-2 on neutral floors.
Road Warriors -- Purdue is 83-41 (.669) on the road and 23-17 (.575) on neutral floors over the last 10 seasons. Three years ago the Boilermakers defeated Stanford 82-65 on the Cardinal's home floor in the NCAA West Regional finals to reach the Women's Final Four. Stanford entered the game 10-0 all-time at home in NCAA Tournament games and winners of 108 of its last 111 games overall in Maples Pavilion.
The Game Is 40 Minutes Long -- Each of Purdue's five starters played all 40 minutes (or more) of a game on multiple occasions: Jannon Roland (10 times), Ukari Figgs (nine times), Stephanie White (eight times), Corissa Yasen (seven times) and Mackenzie Curless (two times).
Rollin', Rollin', Roland -- Senior forward Jannon Roland, the Big Ten Player-of-the-Year in balloting by the conference coaches and the Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball recipient as the Big Ten Most Valuable Player, paced Purdue with 18.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field (tied for tops on the team with Corissa Yasen) and 79.2 percent from the free throw line (tops on the team). She ranked second in three-point field goal percentage (33.3) and was third in treys made (26) and steals (47). Roland had 13 games of 20-plus points this season, including a school-record tying 37 points at Ohio State on Jan. 23, 1997 (also MaChelle Joseph at Michigan State on Feb. 15, 1991). Roland had four 30-plus point games during her career, the second-most in school history (Joseph leads with seven). Roland was the Big Ten's co-scoring champion (with Penn State's Angie Potthoff) with an average of 20.4 points in conference games. She also ranked among the conference leaders in rebounds (6th, 7.7); steals (T6th, 2.1); field goal percentage (10th, 48.4); and free throw percentage (10th, 77.1). Roland was the Big Ten Player-of-the-Week twice -- for the weeks ending Feb. 9 (co-honor with Penn State's Shauntai Hall) and Feb. 23.
Stephanie Is Coming White At You -- Sophomore guard Stephanie White was Purdue's second-leading scorer at 16.4 points per game. She topped the team in assists (4.4); tied for the top top in three-point field goals with Ukari Figgs (32); ranked second in free throw percentage (78.4), steals (58) and blocked shots (11); and was third in three-point percentage (31.4) and rebounds (5.2). White ranked fourth in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (80.7) and assists (4.9) in conference games. She was named second team All-Big Ten.
Corissa Steals It All ... And Blocks It, Too -- Senior forward Corissa Yasen led the Boilermakers with 66 steals (10th on the school season list) and 18 blocked shots. She ranked tied for ninth in the Big Ten in both categories with respective averages of 2.1 and 0.8 per game. Yasen was one of only two players in the conference to rank in the top 10 in steals and blocks (also Michigan's Stacey Thomas). Yasen shared the team lead in field goal percentage with Jannon Roland (46.1) and was second in rebounds (6.2) and third in scoring (11.4) and assists (1.5). She ranked seventh in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (49.5) in conference games and was honorable mention all-league.
Figgs An Iron Woman -- Sophomore guard Ukari Figgs averaged a school-record 36.5 minutes per game. Sharon Versyp averaged 36.0 minutes during the 1985-86 season. Figgs led the Boilermakers in three- point field goal percentage (34.4); tied for the top spot in treys made with Stephanie White (32); ranked second in assists (3.1); third in free throw percentage (76.1); and fourth in scoring (9.6), rebounds (3.5) and steals (28). She was seventh in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (79.2) in conference games.
"The Big Zero" -- Freshman forward Michelle Duhart was called that nickname this season. Though it may not seem complimentary, it was used with the utmost respect. Often times, Duhart had nothing but zeros on the stat sheet, but she contributed mightily with her hard-nosed defense, generally on the opponent's best post player. Duhart averaged 2.0 points and 3.2 rebounds to go with 34 steals (eighth on Purdue's freshman list).
Big Mac Attack -- Freshman forward Mackenzie Curless started all 28 games for the Boilermakers. It marked the second straight year a first-year player was a full-time starter (also Stephanie White in 1995-96). Curless averaged 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 68.3 percent from the free throw line. She came alive in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 13.0 points on 84.6 percent shooting from the field (11-for-13) and 7.5 rebounds in two games.
Young Gun -- Freshman guard Tiffany Young gave the Boilermakers a lift off the bench with her instant offensive capabilities, defensive intensity and positive attitude. She averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds to go with four three-point field goals.
Media Exposure I -- Purdue appeared on national/regional television six times: at Kansas (Creative Sports), at Tennessee (SportSouth), vs. Penn State (SportsChannel), at Illinois (SportsChannel), vs. Maryland in the NCAA Tournament (espn2) and at Old Dominion in the NCAA Tournament (espn2). In addition, the team was featured on Hoops USA, and Corissa Yasen was featured on ESPN's NCAA Today.
Media Exposure II -- As the Boilermakers got hot down the stretch, they also became a "hot topic" for the national media. Among those outlets that inquired about Purdue were the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, ESPN, Hartford (Conn.) Courant, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Sporting News and USA Today.
This Day Is Good For Purdue, Let's Do A Game -- The Boilermakers were 1-0 on Wednesday, 2-0 on Thursday, 7-3 on Friday, 0-3 on Saturday and 7-5 on Sunday.
1997 Recruiting Class -- Purdue has signed five student-athletes for 1997-98: Camille Cooper (6-4, C, Georgetown, Ky., Scott County); Candi Crawford (6-1, F, Fort Wayne, Ind., Homestead); Katie Douglas (6-1, G, Indianapolis, Ind., Perry Meridian); Mo-nique Langston (5-11, G, Bakersfield, Calif., North); and Connie Murdock (6-2, F, South Bend, Ind., Clay). The class is ranked ninth in the nation by the Blue Star Index.
North Vs. South And Westward Ho -- Three 1996-97 Boilermakers hail from south of the Mason-Dixon Line: Michelle Duhart (Arlington, Va.); Ukari Figgs (Georgetown, Ky.); and Tiffany Young (Hillsboro, Ala.). Meanwhile, Corissa Yasen, from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Shayla Potter from Inglewood, Calif., are just the fourth and fifth women's basketball players to come to Purdue from west of the Mississippi River.
A Glance At Next Season -- Purdue's 1997-98 non-conference schedule is pretty much set and will feature games with three of this year's NCAA Women's Final Four teams: Stanford at home Nov. 23, at Old Dominion on Nov. 26 and at Notre Dame on Dec. 10. Other highlights include the Big 4 Classic against Indiana State at home Nov. 16, the Big Ten-SEC Challenge against Florida at Tennessee on Dec. 12 and the Boilermaker BlockBuster against Arizona in Indianapolis on Dec. 20. Purdue will play host to Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21, play in the Florida International Tournament on Nov. 28-29, entertain Ohio on Dec. 2 and visit Northern Illinois on Dec. 5.