Troy ready to repeat as champs

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Troy Women’s basketball team has wrapped up the 2016 -2017 regular season and now look towards the start of the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament in New Orleans.

The defending Sun Belt conference Tournament Champion Troy Trojans finished the regular season 19-10 overall and 12-6 in the conference.

“It’s a great time of the year,” said head coach Chanda Rigby. “There are nerves mixed with excitement. We have a luxury of not playing the first game, we are heading down and watching the teams we could possibly be playing, the pressure is not on us and everything is feeling good right now.”

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Coming off a trip to the NCAA tournament, the Trojans began the season with their sights set on making a return trip. After finishing in third place in the conference, the Trojans earned a first round bye in the tournament.

“We are excited to not be playing that first round,” Rigby said. “When we do start playing Thursday, I’ll be nervous because the other team would have gotten their jitters out. It’s nice right now, but on Thursday we are going to have to command a different type of confidence.”

The Trojans ended the regular season losing three out of their final four games against quality teams such as UT-Arlington and Little Rock.

Rigby hopes the tough final stretch will, if nothing else, prepare them for their run towards another tournament title.

“All the best lessons come with adversity,” Rigby said. “I think it was really nice to play Little Rock last. We didn’t win the game, but the last quarter of that game we got back to playing Trojan basketball. Some people say ‘all’s well that ends well’, but we want to pick it back up where we ended the regular season.”

The Trojans are no stranger to adversity. Before making a run to the championship they endured a six-game losing streak.

“What you have to have in this situation is faith,” Rigby said. “In this situation, since we did live through that, it gives us more faith. It’s not always about what you did during the season. We would have loved to win the outright championship. Now we start a new season and we have faith that we can do it.”

One area of their game that has been a continuing streak has been their rebounding. The Trojans sit in the top spot in the nation in offensive rebounds and second in total rebounds.

“We have done a good job in rebounding and for this tournament it is the main thing that we have been stressing,” Rigby said. “We believe we will be even better and we will have contributions from guards.”

The Trojans will watch and wait to see who they will play between Arkansas State and Georgia Southern. The Trojans will take on the winner on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

“We have played both teams and both of them played us very closely,” Rigby said. “I do like the draw. We beat both teams and we feel like we have players that, if we play well, we can survive and advance.”