Troy looking for confidence

Published 3:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Troy Trojans women’s basketball team has not gotten off to the start they hoped for or envisioned, but with conference play now under way it’s a brand new season for head coach Chanda Rigby and the Trojans.

The Trojans have started the season 5-6, but with an inexperienced roster getting valuable minutes, the Trojans hope bright things are on the horizon.

“We lost more games than we wanted to,” Rigby said. “We were hoping for better, but honestly I’m not surprised with eight new players this year. When you are playing everybody, it takes time for everything to come together.”

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The Trojans have started the season 3-0 at home, but are just 2-5 on the road. The Trojans have played a tough schedule to start their season. They had two SEC teams in Ole Miss and Tennessee and one Conference USA team in Middle Tennessee State. To close out their nonconference slate, the Trojans played Tulane and Samford in New Orleans.

“They are really tough teams to beat with so many new players,” Rigby said. “They are very precise with what they do on offense. We lost to those teams and the last one was in overtime. We are bringing players along.”

Despite the slower start to the season, the goal remains the same for Rigby and the Trojans.

“Our goal is to win a conference championship,” Rigby said. “Any high or lows before that affect our focus on that goal. If we would have won those games, we wouldn’t want that to be a distraction just like we wouldn’t want losing those games to be a distraction. We want to learn as much as we can to put us in the best possible situation to win.”

Rigby believes one of the more positive areas of their game has been the play of their three sophomores Amber Rivers, Kayla Robinson and Harriet Winchester. Rivers has led the team in scoring with 12 points per game, Robinson has averaged nearly 10 and Winchester 7.6 points per game. Robinson has led the team in assists with 31 and Winchester is second on the team in three-point percentage.

“Those are our three sophomores,” Rigby said. “They have been rising above to really stand out. That is really exciting when you look at a team that you think is going to be a contender again and three of your go-to players are only sophomores. That has been a good feeling.”

The Trojans lost a few of their leaders after last season, including Caitlyn Ramirez. In her absence, Dajia Williams has stepped up.

“She is our senior and she is starting at the five position,” Rigby said. “She is a nice big presence. In the four years she has been here, her knowledge of the system and her willingness to communicate with other players has been a huge help.

“We also have Amanda Mendoza. We usually slate her as our smartest player. She is a senior now. Those two who have been in the program for a while have been invaluable.”

Amahni Upshaw and Mendoza missed time in the summer and preseason, but with conference play now looming, the Trojans are finally healthy.

Last season the Trojans got off to a 5-0 start in conference play and rode it all the way to a conference championship. Rigby is hoping for a similar start this season.

“It’s critical now because we have taken a loss in the last two games,” Rigby said. “It’s really crucial for confidence sake. Anytime you take several losses, people can rock back on their heels and question things. We haven’t had that yet, but once we are in conference, we have to show that those lessons we learned were for something.”

The Trojans will open up conference play on Friday when they take on Georgia Southern at home beginning at 5 p.m. They will host Georgia State on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.