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Smith, Strauthers have Brookhaven connection at UA

Talk about a Brookhaven connection at the University of Alabama.Courtney Strauthers felt right at home when UA women’s headbasketball coach Stephany Smith recruited her, because both haveBrookhaven roots.

Strauthers, a 6-foot-4 tower of power, signed early with theCrimson Tide. She is the daughter of Thomas and Jenny ByrdStrauthers, both Brookhaven High School graduates.

Smith also graduated from BHS. The daughter of Ralph and BetsyPenn Smith is in her first year at the UA helm.

The elder Strauthers had a great college football career atJackson State University. He was drafted by the PhiladelphiaEagles. He later played a few years for the Minnesota Vikings. Hiswife was a star basketball player at BHS.

“Brittany is such a powerful low post player,” Smith said. “Shecan do other things, but she is a monster around the basket. Shehas such great size and strength around the hoop. We look forwardto great things from her.”

Strauthers is a 6-4 post player with a very versatile game. Shestarred for Shiloh High in Snellville, Ga., leading them to anappearance in the Georgia Girls Class AAAAA State Tournament. Sheearned a spot on the Peach State Memorial Day Challenge team thispast summer.

“She is a big post player who can do a lot of things,” Smithsaid. “She can shoot outside and can take a player off the dribble.Courtney has a great basketball IQ, and that is something we needmore of in our offense. She has a very large upside for us.”

Courtney averages 10 points and 10 rebounds per game. She wasnominated for the 2005-06 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award earlierthis year. She plans to major in Sports Medicine.

The Tide, having played two exhibition games in the CAVE, willofficially kick-off its 2005-06 season and inaugurate the StephanySmith era when the team faces Washington on Friday, Nov. 18. Tipoffis scheduled for 5:30, as the Tide searches for its first win underSmith and its second in as many years over the Huskies.

Smith, who enters her first season at the Capstone after eightseasons on the sidelines at Middle Tennessee State, will lead ateam that returns 10 players from last year’s 14-15 team. After twoexhibition victories in her first two games on the sidelines forthe Tide, Smith will coach in her first official game as a headcoach of an SEC team.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Smith said, smiling. “I have beenso busy getting this team ready for the season that I haven’t hadmuch time to think about it. But I’m sure when the National Anthemplays on Friday night, there will be a moment when I realize whereI’m at.”

Looking ahead, Alabama continues its early-season home swing onMonday when the Tide plays host to Santa Clara. That contest isslated to tip-off at 7 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

Professor Hoopla B.S., was wearing his new, insulated, longunderwear when he dropped off his latest list of footballpredictions. He had spent most of the day on a climbing tree stand,hoping for that trophy buck.

Hoopla predicted the winners of 23 games last week and felt theupset bite, getting only 12 correct. He promised to do better thisweek, starting with a Thursday night special.

Belhaven at Mississippi College. Blazers areriding a 3-game victory streak and they have momentum in theBackyard Brawl. Belhaven 31-19.

Enterprise at Puckett: A first-round Class 1Astate playoff game provides plenty of excitement. Puckett28-18.

Hazlehurst at Forest: Willie Brown’s Indiansclimb to 10-0 by winning this Class 3A playoff road game.Hazlehurst 30-21.

Oak Forest at Copiah Academy: Colonels authoreda surprise earlier in the season. This time the Yellowjackets getrevenge. Oak Forest 21-14.

West Jones at McComb: Tigers recorded a majorupset last week at Long Beach. They’ll pull another stunner in C.C.Moore Stadium. McComb 27-24.

South Pike at Collins: Randall Huffman’sunbeaten Eagles will conquer another Class 3A playoff foe. SouthPike 29-10.

LSU at Ole Miss: Tigers are expected to have abig letdown after beating Alabama in overtime. Rebels don’t haveenough talent to author an upset. LSU 32-14.

Memphis at Southern Miss: Unpredictable Eaglesabsorb another tough loss. Memphis 28-17.

Alcorn State at Jackson State: Bell tolls forthe Tigers as the Braves go on the warpath. Alcorn State 38-12.

Mississippi State vs. Arkansas: Little Rock isthe scene of another Razorback victory. Arkansas 27-14.

In the SEC, Auburn will beat Alabama 21-17,Georgia over Kentucky 32-14, South Carolina over Clemson 29-10, andTennessee over Vanderbilt 33-23. Florida has an open date torecruit more Gators.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com