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Energetic Start to New Era
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 • Posted December 7, 2012

HORSESHOE BAY—One of the great lines in maybe the first show of the legendary Mary Tyler Moore show of the 1970s was delivered by the character Lou Grant (Ed Asner) to Mary: “You’ve got spunk—I hate spunk!”

Lou would really dislike Karen Aston. She has spunk and more, and Texas basketball fans won’t hate that at all. She’s the first-year head coach of the Longhorn women, and, December 4, she became the first woman to address the Horseshoe Bay Sports Club.

“All across the country people love Texas,” she declared. “It’s amazing how many want Texas to be great.”

Aston strongly indicated the women’s program is not where it needs to be, and Longhorn backers don’t have to be reminded of that.

“Players are given a lot,” she acknowledged, “and you can’t let them feel entitled. You’ve got to get them to understand their responsibility of being at a great university.”

Aston has an impressive resume: 25 years of coaching, including four seasons as head coach at Charlotte and one at North Texas. She was a Jody Conradt assistant, 1998-2006. Her past also includes time on the coaches’ bench with Kim Mulkey.

Aston’s squad has not played super-strong opponents, but its 5-0 record has earned UT a ranking of 12th in the nation by Associated Press. A big test comes December 8 at Reliant Stadium against UCLA.

The team

“I’ve got to get them over the fear of the expectation to win; my job is to make them feel okay with that.

“We get after it in practice and in games. Come watch us play; give us a chance.”

A player

“Nneka Enemkpali of Pflugerville is a phenomenal talent. If you haven’t seen her, you’re missing something.

“You know when somebody has “it,” and it makes everybody better. She’s worth the price of a ticket.”

Enemkpali is averaging 21.4 points a game and a sturdy 14 rebounds a contest.

Big 12

“The conference is the best in the country.” Hard to argue: three national championships from the league since 2005 including the last two. “Enough said.”

Erwin Center

“It’s not a tough environment now; I want that for the players.”

At Baylor…

Aston was there with Mulkey, 2006-07. “The players ran each other and policed each other.” She likes that, because, “This is a players’ game.”

High Schools

“There’s no question the most competitive girls’ basketball is in Texas,” and places like, “UConn, Notre Dame, and Duke are stealing kids.

“Under Conradt, the best player in Texas went to Texas; we’ve lost some of that. We have to work harder.”

Well, women with spunk are not afraid of that.

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