Troy set to begin season

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Troy Trojans women’s basketball team is picked to finish first in the Sun Belt Conference this year.

That’s not surprising for a team that reached the NCAA tournament last season and is returning three of its starters, including senior Kaitlyn Ramirez who was named to the Preseason All-Conference first team.

“This is by far the most skilled and best group of post players we have had since I have been at Troy,” said head coach Chanda Rigby said. “Even though it’s a lot of the same players returning, they are just so much more skilled and so much more confident.”

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Despite the confidence of 125 first-place votes in the preseason poll, the Trojans will have to work to fill the void left by Ashley Beverley Kelley, who graduated last year and held the record as the second highest scorer in school history with 1,973 points.

“I have always said that it’s by committee, and that is how it is happening,” Rigby said. “Jayla Chills is a senior for us who had a quiet season for us last year. She is really stepping up in the way of scoring.”

The Trojans hope to utilize a strong inside game led by Ramirez who scored 11.9 points per game last season and seven rebounds. Joining Ramirez in the frontcourt will be sophomores La’tia Fills-Amie’ and Amahni Upshaw.

“I have really enjoyed working with them,” Ramirez said. “Being a post player I had to lead and guide them.”

New inside players such as Amber Rivers also will be looked at to contribute this season.

“She’s an amazing athlete at a little over 6’2’’,” Rigby said. “She can really get up and down the floor, can really rebound and can really score.”

The Trojans will look at the rest of the conference from a different perspective this season after winning the tournament championship and being picked to finish first this season. The Trojans were one of four teams to pick up a first place vote in the preseason conference rankings.

“It looks different when you come in ranked one, then it did when we were ranked 10th or 12th,” Rigby said. “It looked like an insurmountable hill, now we are up there so it looks like there is more parity.”

The Trojans had a magical ride to the NCAA tournament a season ago and though they fell in the opening round to Oregon State, they learned from the experience.

“We learned so much,” Rigby said. “We started to recruit longer athletes … it opened up my mind to the different ways people can offset a running game.”

“It was different,” Ramirez said. “It was a wake up call not just for me, but I’m sure for the others returning. We have to push through regardless of what happens.”

The Trojans open the season November 11 when they travel to take on Auburn beginning at 5:30 p.m.