Trojans growing through tough start

Published 9:02 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This season may not be off to the start the Troy Trojans women’s basketball team would have liked but the team may be getting ready to take off soon enough.

After starting the season 1-6, dropping games to the likes of Xavier, who is No. 5 in the country, and Western Kentucky, the Trojans were able to get a win this past Saturday afternoon against Belhaven.

And it may have been just what the team needed.

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“I thought it was a pretty good win for us,” head coach Mike Murphy said.

“They had some pretty good athletes and came in with a 6-3 record after beating New Orleans by 36 points. So, I was pretty pleased with that win.”

The win helped snap a two-game losing streak, but while it may have helped dispel some losing ways, it also continued a successful trend for the Trojans. For the second-straight game, Troy shot 50 percent or better from the floor, showing what Murphy believes is the team growing up right before our eyes.

“Anytime you can be consistently productive, you got something there,” the coach said.

“I think they fact that we are shooting the ball well shows that we are learning the offense and more importantly, shows that the girl’s are becoming more confident on the floor. They are finding better shots now and they are being patient. We had a tough stretch in the beginning of the season where that wasn’t happening, but now, I think the team has worked through it and is getting better.”

One area where the team did bounce back was from beyond the arc.

After failing to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in 58 games against Western Kentucky, the Trojans hit a season-high eight three-pointers against Belhaven.

One of the biggest reasons for the tough first stretch was due to the experience, or lack thereof, coming into the season.

While Murphy said this was going to be a rebuilding year for the program, the coach thought he would have a little more help along the way – until injuries came along.

“We knew coming into this season that we were going to be young,” Murphy said.

“What we didn’t know was that Sarah McAppion and Courtney Hawkins were going to be two of our big time players who were going to be out with injury. And that experience they provided was a big hit – it has made a difference.

“Basketball is a game where you can’t just rely on one person, it’s a team game, which makes it so unique. When one of your players goes down, that’s a big percentage out of the lineup. This season, we are missing five of our top seven girls from last season due to injury and graduation and that is something that has pushed a lot of the girls on the team with little experience into big minute situations.”

One of the players that the team does have back this year is Donette McNair.

And as the lone senior on this season’s squad, she has done everything to help keep the team moving forward in the right direction.

Currently, McNair leads the team in 11 different statistical categories, including scoring with 14 points per game, field goal percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks.

“Donette is numbers wise, off to a great year,” Murphy said.

“She is trying to grow into that leadership role right now. And that’s not always the easiest thing to do. But she is working hard to be the best and working hard to help her team be the best.”

McNair may not be the only experienced player when its all said and done though this season.

“We have young players getting a lot of opportunities to learn,” Murphy said.

“A lot of times in basketball, you grow through playing and learn through difficult times. We have experienced some tough times this season, but out of it, I think these girls, some more than others, are getting a lot of great experience – and that is something that is priceless.

“Through it all, it’s been a lot of fun,” the coach added. “This has been a kind of season that I have never experienced before but the girls are working hard. They want to get better and I am seeing that growth, day-by-day, week-by-week, game-by-game.”