Injuries cited in decision not to participate

Updated: March 8, 2004, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas women's basketball coach Susie Gardner announced Monday her Lady Razorbacks would not take part in the Women's National Invitational Tournament this postseason.

"We've talked as a staff and as a team, and considering the circumstances, we think it is in the best interests of the program," Gardner said. "We've thought a lot about this."

Arkansas finished the year at 16-12 and lost 79-74 to Mississippi State last week in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. In the league, Arkansas finished 5-9.

Part of the reason for the announcement was to allow the WNIT to make other plans, associate athletic director Bill Smith said.

The WNIT had sent Arkansas paperwork for its declaration to attend.

"We want to make sure they know that this is a situation for just in this particular season we are not available for selection," Smith said.

Gardner said injuries played a role in the decision.

"If we are going into this, we need to know we have the ability to win it all," Gardner said. "To do that, we have to play five games in a very short time frame. We lost two starters during the year, and Ruby (Vaden) missed the last seven games and is still hurting."

Junior college transfer Sheree Thompson tore ligaments in her knee just before the season started, then Arkansas lost sophomore guard Sarah Pfeiffer three games into the year with a shoulder injury that eventually ended her season with surgery

Senior Shanna Harmon was limited to 19 games due to a back injury. Sophomore Ruby Vaden, the team's second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per gam, missed half of league play due to a foot injury.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press