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Utah State women's basketball officially started practice for the 2011-12 season on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Head coach Raegan Pebley is entering her ninth season as head coach at Utah State, which is the longest tenure in the program’s history. Last season was the first time in Pebley’s career that she has earned the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year accolade. Pebley is also the first female to earn the award since 2004-05, when Rice’s Cristy McKinney was named Coach of the Year.
Pebley and the Aggies are coming off one of their best seasons in school history, finishing the season with an 18-15 record. Utah State advanced to the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) for the first time in school history.
The 18 wins by last year's squad broke a Utah State record for wins in a season, while the 10 WAC wins tied the 1975 and ’76 teams for most league wins in a year. The Aggies also broke the record for assists (532) and free throws made (478) in a season last year.
Utah State returns 10 players from the 2010-11 roster, including three starters in forward Ashlee Brown (15.2 ppg), center Banna Diop (9.5 ppg) and guard Jenna Johnson (6.6 ppg). USU brings back 75 percent of its offense, including its top three scorers in Brown, Diop and guard Devyn Christensen. The Aggies also welcome back the block leader in Diop (1.88 bpg).
Brown will also be back in the blue and white as Utah State’s leading rebounder, bringing down 251 rebounds in 2010-11 (8.4 rpg). Brown was highly decorated by the WAC last season, earning first-team all-WAC honors as well as being named the conference's Newcomer of the Year.
Returning on the bench for Pebley this season is Hanna Howard and former Aggie great Danyelle Snelgro. Joining the Aggies this season is Stu Sells in his first season as an assistant coach at Utah State, replacing former associate coach George Brosky. Also joining the Aggie staff this season is Marques Howard as the director of basketball operations.
This season, Utah State welcomes six newcomers, including senior transfer Brooke Jackson who comes to Logan from the University of Arizona. USU adds five freshmen in Brooke Beckstead, Xava Grooms, Addison Moore, Elise Nelson and Franny Vaaulu.
The Aggies begin the 2010-11 season on Friday, Nov. 4, with an exhibition against Western New Mexico at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU opens the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11, on the road at Wyoming at 1 p.m.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.