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Trojans ready for Middle Tennessee

The Troy Trojans are faced with the task of opening Sun Belt Conference play with the team who has been picked by the conference coaches to win the conference this year.

Troy (4-5) travels to Murfreesboro, Tenn. tonight to battle with the 3-3 Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders return all five of their starters from a year ago.

“They are a very experienced basketball team,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “They have all five of their starters back from last year and three of those have been starting for them two years.”

The Trojans will also have to deal with a nine-day layoff from finals week. Maestri said there is no real way to deal with the layoff other than getting after the Blue Raiders early and often.

“We just have to get off to a good start and get the confidence rising early,” he said. “That would be great if we could do that. Practice did not go so smooth this past nine days because of exams. There were some days we didn’t even practice because of exams. We just have to get them to concentrate while they are out there.”

Maestri said his team would need to come out firing on all cylinders.

“We need to have all our guns loaded with all of our shooters ready to take the shot when they are open,” he said. “And we need to have a very good defensive effort if we expect to come away with a win tomorrow night.”

Going on the road to open the conference slate is never easy and playing the projected No. 1 team on top of that does not make it any easier, according to Maestri.

“Playing the best team on the road makes it a challenge,” Maestri said. “But with big challenges come big opportunities and this will be a super opportunity for us to make a statement in the league. We will have no room for error. Everyone will have to step up for us to win.”

Maestri said having Richard Delk and Michael Vogler at full strength should help his squad heading into the conference schedule. Delk and Vogler opened the season injured and Maestri said the duo of guards is ready to go.

“Having Richard Delk and Michael Vogler at full strength should be great for us,” Maestri said.

The Trojans and the Blue Raiders tip off at 7 p.m. from Murfreesboro.