• 68°

Troy women’s basketball prepares for Sun Belt Tournament after transformative year

The Troy women’s basketball team that Kourtney Coleman once knew as a freshman is radically different than the squad she will compete with in New Orleans on Wednesday in the Sun Belt Tournament.

Coleman, the lone four-year senior on roster for Troy, was there in 2011 when the Trojans finished an abysmal 2-26.

Four years later, the senior forward is part of a Trojans team that is breaking completely new ground.

The list could go on and on.

This is the first time Troy women’s basketball has won 20 games since the 90s. The team’s current eight-game winning streak is the second longest since a 15-game streak in 1992. And the Trojans’ No. 3 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament is their highest in all 10 years of their conference membership.

From the freshman to the seniors, no one on the team has seen a season like this at Troy.

“For me, it is something that words can’t describe,” Coleman said. “I told everyone after the South (Alabama) game, I went from two wins my freshman year to 20 wins. That is almost unreal. Nobody every really expected it to happen that way.”

The process of transformation for Troy wasn’t an overnight deal. The 2015 season is the culmination of years of coaching changes and hard work.

Following the 2-26 season, Chanda Rigby was hired as the new coach for Troy basketball.

And though the new head coach knew she had a lot of work ahead of her, Coleman said she could tell immediately that Rigby was the right person for the job.

“I could tell that she (Rigby) was ready to come in and turn this into a winning program,” Coleman said. “I am just glad that I was able to be here for the process. The style of play is just completely different. It is a lot faster.”

In Rigby’s first year, she led the Trojans to a 7-24 record. Then 12-18. And now 20-9.

It’s a process Rigby said has been long and arduous, but she always sensed the potential she possessed in her team.

Troy has seen its share of losing efforts in the past years, but now the Trojans find themselves on an eight-game winning streak going into the tournament.

“We’ve suffered through our moments to build,” Rigby said. “Like I would always tell the team in those moments, sometimes winning doesn’t look like you’re winning. We went on an eight-game losing streak last year. That didn’t feel like winning at all. As long as you refuse to lose and refuse give in, you are winning.”

Now in Rigby’s third season with Troy, the Trojans are carrying some massive momentum into their matchup with UL Lafayette in the Sun Belt Tournament.

The two teams have met twice this year already, with Troy winning both games by a combined 10 points.

And while Troy basketball is in unfamiliar territory this season with an opportunity to win a conference championship, competing for titles is just business as usual in the Rigby household.

Rigby’s husband, Ed, coached Elba High School’s football team all the way to runner-up in the state championship game last season, a team her oldest son, Ramsey, played quarterback for, and her youngest son, Randon, played for an Elba high school team that finished runner-up in the state championship just a few weeks ago.

“I need to go get one (a championship),” Rigby said. “Even my son said this morning, ‘Mom, you need to uphold the Rigby name and let’s win one.’”