Jan. 3, 2006
One thing is certain at the start of an uncertain year for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons basketball team _ the 2006 portion of the schedule has to be better than 2005.
Heading into Thursday night's Atlantic Sun Conference game with Campbell at 7 at Allen Arena, the Lady Bisons are still looking for their first victory. Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett, whose team was picked in preseason to win the A-Sun regular season title, is still optimistic about the season.
"We haven't played many weak teams," said Bennett. "We are going to be playing some home games and playing some teams we think we are more competitive with.
"We are working on some things that haven't been obvious in games. We are making progress in some areas that will hopefully become obvious before long. We have 18 conference games left. You just hope your confidence isn't too low from the losses that you have.""
Injuries have played a major role with starting junior forward Julie Martin and sophomore post player Rachel Davis out before the season started. Starting center Katie Beth Pate and starting point guard Catie Woods have also missed several games with injury issues.
"We are hopeful of getting Catie Woods back to play this week and maybe Katie Beth Pate," said Bennett. "In the three games Catie Woods has not played we have had 35, 38 and 43 turnovers. The whole team is doing that, but she is definitely someone we like to count on playing a lot of minutes for us and taking care of the ball.
"Katie Beth did some five-on-five work Monday. We will see how she can take a pounding in practice. I think she will be ready to go if nothing else happens. Not having played since Dec. 3 and having practiced except for some jogging and shooting she will be a little rusty. She will make a difference on the defensive end with her blocked shots and with rebounding."
The Lady Bisons closed out 2005 with a 92-42 loss at Florida State of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Freshman forward Miriam McAlister led the Lady Bisons in scoring with nine points, the second time this season she has led the team. Freshman guard Jillian Partin grabbed a team-leading five rebounds.
"We have played the two best teams on our schedule in the last two games with Wake Forest and Florida State," said Bennett. "The first game after Christmas (Florida State) is usually ugly. And when we have too long of a break between games it can be a little bit ugly, too.
"There isn't much to say about Wake Forest. We played a decent first half, but the second half was not good. There were a lot more positive things for us against Florida State. They are probably the best team on our schedule. They are the most athletic team we have faced. But we had more good possessions. We had pretty good stretches of play with clumps of high turnovers around them."
Freshmen have been forced into more action this season due to injury problems. In addition to McAlister, who has started six games, and Partin, the Lady Bisons have also called upon forwards Katie Rollins and Rachel Viehmann.
Despite the high talent level of the freshman class, Bennett would prefer easing them into the college game in a little less hectic way.
"If we can get Katie Beth and Catie back then we aren't relying on inexperienced players quite as much," said Bennett. "We won't have three or four inexperienced players on the court at the same time. With only one or two inexperienced players the other three can cover up for them a little bit better. With three or four inexperienced players on the court you don't get as much of a team concept of what is going on. Little breakdowns will happen."
The game with Campbell will only be the second time this season the Lady Bisons have played on their home court. They narrowly missed a win over Memphis (76-74) Nov. 29 at Allen Arena. They lost 69-68 in overtime on the road in the A-Sun opener at Kennesaw State Dec. 1.
"We played pretty well against Memphis for the most part," said Bennett. "We had a chance to win at Kennesaw.
"Playing at home should help us. We are looking forward to playing at home this week."