Saturday afternoon at 2 the Lady Bisons will face Xavier at Allen Arena. Sunday afternoon at 1:30 they will gather with Lipscomb fans and friends in Shamblin Theater to watch the NCAA Selection Show on ESPN News.
But before any of that the Lady Bisons will spend Thanksgiving Day at Rosenthal’s house. Rosenthal and assistant Bisons’ basketball coach Jay Walton are frying turkeys. With his wife, Kate, and children Jake and Jack visiting relatives in South Carolina, Rosenthal is depending on the kindness of friends and strangers to round out the feast.
The Lady Bisons have a lot to be thankful for. They are heading to their second NCAA Tournament in a row and their third in the last four years. They have won both the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships the past two years. They have been the A-Sun Tournament champion three of the last four years.
“This is literally on me,” Rosenthal said. “I think it is a neat thing. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
“It is fun and a little nerve wracking. I want this to be an experience where they won’t look back and say they really would have rather stayed with their families. I really don’t want to let them down.”
Most of the players spent the early part of the week with their families. They had to be back on campus by 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Rosenthal asked each member of the team about favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Almost unanimously they responded with “watching football”.
“We are trying to put together a day where everyone on the team gets a taste of their own Thanksgiving traditions,” Rosenthal said. “There will be a lot of watching football, playing cards, games, movies and maybe playing some football. They are not a dull group.”
One of the traditions from Rosenthal’s family is shrimp cocktail as an appetizer so he plans to have that on the menu.
“There has been a lot of thought about this,” Rosenthal said.
The day won’t be completely festive. The Lady Bisons will start the morning with a workout at Allen Arena instead of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Saturday’s game with Xavier was a late addition to the schedule, but it will count on the regular season record.
The Lady Bisons are 23-6 overall with a 69 RPI. Xavier’s record is 20-9 with a 61 RPI. Xavier lost to Dayton in the finals of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and will be waiting to see if they get an at-large bid.
“Xavier is very good,” Rosenthal said. “It’s not like we are bringing someone in just for a tune-up. This is going to be a tough, tough match.
“There are a lot of conferences that don’t finish their tournaments until this weekend. The players wanted to do this. The past couple of times we went to the NCAA Tournament we felt like the two-week break was great to rest and get ready. We could practice but we found out it’s not the same as playing matches.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.