Despite injuries and poor shooting, Trojans improvement encourages coach

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

While the Troy women’s basketball team won’t stand out in the Sun Belt Conference standings this season, head coach Michael Murphy does feel his team is looking better after some key players have returned to action.

The Trojans (1-17, 0-7) have looked a bit like a sputtering engine of late, playing well at times against the league’s best competition then falling in routs at home.

Troy took Middle Tennessee, who currently leads the Sun Belt, to overtime before falling, 72-66. The Trojans also held leads late into contests against South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe where they ultimately lost. While Troy has been unable to turn effort into victories, Murphy says his team is turning a corner.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We’ve been playing well of late,” he said. “We just haven’t shot the ball well.”

Against South Alabama and Monroe, the Trojans held their opponents to 30 percent shooting. Troy, however, converted just 32.3 percent of its attempts including just 27.9 against Louisiana-Monroe.

“Defensively, we’re playing a lot better,” Murphy said. “But when you hold a team to 30 percent, you can’t make just 27 percent.”

Part of the Trojans struggles comes from the vast number of injuries they have dealt with over the course of the season.

Of the 16 players on Troy full roster, 12 have misses either game of practice time due to an assortment of ailments.

Guard Sarah McAppion, who was the team’s top free throw shooter in 2009-10, was reshirted last season after ankle surgery. Through a lengthy rehabilitation process, is just now beginning to show she old form, though still not at full strength.

Freshman Rosie Hynes has been limited due to an early season groin injury and Kristen Smith will miss the entire season with a concussion she suffered in last year’s season-opener.

Kourtney Coleman returned after a dislocated ankle early on while guard Sophie Kleeman is battling an array on minor issues.

Having the most impact is point guard and leading scorer Deangela Sword’s availability due to sickle cell.

“She’s over on the bench taking oxygen three times a night,” Murphy said. “She gives all she has but we still have to manage her time.”

Most of the injuries will heal in time but time unfortunately isn’t something the Trojans have in the midst of their conference schedule.

“It’s one thing to get nicked up in the middle or end of a season,” Murphy said. “But when it happens right out of the gate it kind of puts you in a hole to start.”

Troy seems to be putting the pieces back together of late but will need to begin picking up conference victories to help boost their place in the standings.

“Injuries or not, we have to convert our opportunities,” said Murphy.

Troy is on the road to Middle Tennessee State (16-5, 8-0) for a rematch with the Blue Raiders tonight.

Tip is set for 7 p.m.