TCU prepares to start its season without star post player and first team All-American, Sandora Irvin.Head coach Jeff Mittie said a player like Irvin is a rare treasure and replacing her will be difficult.
“Hopefully several players will raise their level of play so that we have several players taking big shots at the end of the game,” Mittie said, “but again, it’s very difficult to lose a player as a first round pick.”
The Phoenix Mercury took Irvin third overall in the 2005 WNBA Draft.
Irvin set the NCAA career record for blocked shots at 480, shattering the old record, which was 428.
Mittie said Irvin is missed in many areas, however, blocked shots is the area where her presence will be missed most.
“She led the nation and was the career and team leader (in blocked shots); you don’t just grow those types of players on trees,” Mittie said. “The presence she had may be the most difficult thing to replace.
Irvin led the team with 11.8 rebounds and 19.9 points per game her senior season.
“She is someone you take into account on both ends of the floor,” Mittie said. “The big question now is whether or not we can establish that with a group of players and where our shots will come from at the end of the game.”
Irvin is also the all-time scoring leader at TCU.
Mittie said the team will experiment with a variety of combinations while trying to replace Irvin.
“We are going to try a variety of people in the upcoming games,” Mittie said. “(Lorie) Butler-Rayford,(Natasha) Lacy, Adrianne Ross, and Vanessa Clementino and Ashley Davis all started in our previous (exhibition) game.”
Mittie said it will be a team effort to fill the gap Irvin’s absence has made.
“We don’t really have to replace her with one player here,” Mittie said. “Hopefully seven or eight players can pick up the slack in all of those areas, but it’s very difficult to replace a player who’s such a vital key for us offensively and defensively.”
Irvin impacted her teammates off the court as well.
Lacy, a junior, said Irvin played a great part in her life at college.
“Sandora played a huge part in me coming to TCU,” Lacy said. “She was my co-host on my recruiting trip. I had heard a lot about her.”
Lacy said Irvin was someone to count on when the game was on the line.
“In my two years playing with her, Sandora could carry us when it was crunch-time.” Lacy said. “She helped me elevate my game in certain areas showing me how she did things. I knew if we needed a basket I could throw it up and she’d get it.”
Sophomore Butler-Rayford said Irvin was a great person and player at TCU.
“Sandora really impacted me as a friend,” Butler-Rayford said “As a player, she was one of the most talented posts I’ve ever played with. She taught me how to set goals for myself.”