And for Michael Cooney’s ball club, that begins with a trip to Livingston, Ala., and Pruitt Hall today for a 5 p.m. tip against West Alabama.
The University of West Georgia men’s basketball coach said his team is in a better place today than it was last Sunday when the Wolves suffered
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a 68-57 road loss to Columbus State, where guards Quincy Hill and Thomas Higginbotham were both fighting through illness.
UWG (4-5, 1-1 GSC) has dropped three straight and is still looking for its first road win of the season, and Cooney said his team will have to be ready to battle a physical UWA squad today.
“They’re huge. You know, 6-10, 6-7 — they’re all just big, strong guys. They’re going to run their wheel offense and try to wear us down. We’ve got to do a great job with forcing them to take tough shots and we’ve got to rebound the miss,” Cooney said. “We can’t allow a bunch of second shots, because those second and third possessions will wear us down. We’ve really got do a good job with the rebounding. And then, again, on offense with our shot selection.”
The Tigers (4-5, 0-2) fell in each of their initial GSC contests, dropping a 100-83 decision to Shorter and a 69-60 affair with Alabama-Huntsville. Led by 6-5 junior shooting guard Sandy Underwood (19.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg), UWA is in a similar boat with the Wolves, where it is 4-1 at home and 0-4 on the road.
And with two teams hungry for a win to start 2013 on the right note, Cooney expects a 40-minute dogfight this evening.
“We’re the kind of team that’s going to have to play really, really hard to give ourselves an opportunity to win. The thing that we’ve got to learn to do on the road is our shot selection has got to be better and we’ve got to play even harder than we do at home. I know that’s asking a lot of these guys, but that’s what they’ve got to do,” Cooney said.
UWG women: The Wolves (7-3, 1-1) are riding a four-game winning streak into the new year, but they last played on Dec. 18 — a 62-57 home triumph over Coastal Georgia.
West Georgia coach Scott Groninger is anxious to get back to action and, more importantly, get his ball club back in routine.
“The time off was good, but from a coaching standpoint, you never know how things are going to play out the first game back. It seems like it’s been forever since we played — December 18th to January 5th is a long time,” Groninger said. “I think the players enjoyed their time off, but it feels like it’s time to get back to routine. I look forward to starting classes and us playing every Thursday-Saturday.”
Today’s 3 p.m. tangle comes against a UWA squad — led by former West Georgia coach Craig Roden — that is finally at full strength after getting senior guard Nikkia Jordan back on the court in the Tigers’ final game before the holiday break, a 96-48 victory over Selma.
Jordan, who was the GSC Tournament MVP in guiding the Tigers to their improbable title run last March, scored 25 points in her 2012-13 debut, connecting on 10-of-20 field goal attempts, with four steals, three assists and three steals in 27 minutes of action.
Groninger said with UWA (5-5, 0-2) having all its weapons together for the first time all year, it is a much more dangerous team than its record indicates.
“I think that most coaches would agree with me in saying that I think they have the best personnel in the league,” Groninger said. “Their record is only 5-5 because they’ve had some injuries and they just guard their guard, Nikkia Jordan, back. So now they’re full strength. And I think they’re really excited to play with everybody. It’ll be a big challenge for us to go down there.”
Along with Jordan, West Alabama features the GSC’s top scorer in senior forward Brittany Weathers (22.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg).