The UNC-Greensboro Women’s Basketball season is set to begin this week on Thursday, and the Spartans hope to bounce back from last year’s disappointing season. In the exhibition game this week, they will take on Greensboro College at the Fleming Gymnasium at 7p.m.
UNCG is predicted to finish near the bottom of the Southern Conference (SoCon) this year. The preseason coaches poll has the team finishing sixth in the conference; which would be an improvement for them after last year’s last place finish among the eight conference teams.The Spartans are hoping to turn things around this season after finishing the year 1-13 in conference play, and only 6-24 overall. They have a more experienced roster this year comprised of six juniors and four seniors.
Among the seniors coming back is Lucy Mason. Mason was named to the Preseason All-Conference team for the SoCon. Last year, Mason played a huge role for UNCG, starting all 30 games at guard. She was named to the SoCon All-Conference team, and led the team in minutes played, field goals made, three-pointers made, free-throws made, assists, and total points. She also finished the year third in scoring in the SoCon with 15.3 points per game. In her second-to-last season, Mason became the 24 player at UNCG to hit the 1,000 points milestone last year on January 12 against Mercer University.
The Spartans will need to rely on Mason heavily, and other veteran players such as junior guard Bailey Williams and junior forward Jade Scaife to lead the way this year. The abundance of upperclassmen on this year’s team could pay off big for UNCG. They will definitely need them to step up and become leaders if the Spartans want to be competitive this year.
The Spartans this season will be without their second leading scorer from last year, as Jarae Savage with her 11.8 points and 6.6 boards graduated. Because of this, it will be crucial that someone steps up to fill the void. There are a lot of players capable of doing it, it’s just a question of who will be able to. Players to watch out for this could be Shanese Harris, India Timpton and Mariah Wilson.
After their early crosstown matchup, UNCG won’t have to wait long for their first big test. On November 15, the Spartans will travel to Columbia to take on the second ranked team in the country, the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks have high expectations this season, so UNCG will have a chance to see how they match up with one of the elite programs in the nation.
The Spartans will have their first conference game at home this season on January 7 against the Mercer University Bears. Getting an early conference win would be a great step in the right direction for UNCG.
A week later they will have their toughest conference stretch of the season. On January 14, they will travel to Johnson City, Tennessee to take on the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers who are predicted to finish second in the SoCon. Two days later they will stay in the state to play the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs are expected to finish first in the SoCon this season.
UNCG plays some very winnable non-conference games, which will be a good way to build confidence heading into the conference schedule. Cleaning up certain areas of their game will also be key in 2015. The Spartans shot an abysmal 35 percent from the field last year, and 67 percent from the free throw line.
Cutting down on turnovers will also pay off big for the Spartans. Last year they averaged 18.5 turnovers per game. They did however finish with a positive turnover margin, recording a +3 in that category.
Turning things around this year is a not going to be an easy task after last year’s disastrous season. The Spartans have a lot that they need to improve on if they want to make this year a more competitive season for them. Head Coach Wendy Collins will definitely need to come up with new offensive sets and defensive strategies to make this team a tougher challenge for opponents.
Luckily for the Spartans, with every team in every sport after a terrible year before, this is a new season which means a clean slate for everyone. They will get to start afresh, and forget that last season even happened, which is something all Spartan fans want to do anyway.