Eye on the prize: Trojans begin conference tournament against rival Jaguars
Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019
It’s been two years since Troy took home their second consecutive Sun Belt Tournament championship. With the tournament now under way in New Orleans, the current crop of Trojan players are hungry to win a championship of their own and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Trojans had their sites on a regular season championship this season, but a 13-5 finish secured the third seed behind Little Rock and Texas-Arlington, who both finished at 15-3.
“It’s very exciting. We have a point to prove,” said Trojan sophomore Jasmine Robinson. “We finished in third place. Of course, we had expectations to finish number one, so we have a point to prove.”
The Trojans enter the tournament with a chip on their shoulder. They believe they are ready to take on anybody the tournament has to offer.
“A lot of teams always gives us their best games when they play us,” Robinson said. “We are ready for everybody.”
The Trojans won 22 games this season, second most in program history. It was the most for head coach Chanda Rigby at Troy and her players say they did it for her.
“It was very big for our coach. We love her,” Robinson said. “We are going to always work for our coaches. It’s been tough as well, going through practices, but it’s a night and day process.”
The Trojans enter the game winners of five out of their last six games. They finished off the season with wins over Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina last week.
“Right now, we are really confident,” said junior forward Kate Rodgers. “We had two wins at home and we are really confident in what we are doing. We are bringing it all together right now.”
Everything the Trojans have done this season has been building up for this moment. The postseason is here and Rodgers, along with her teammates expect the intensity to ramp up beginning this afternoon.
“I think right now we have to step up the intensity,” Rodgers said. “We have to have a sense of urgency. Everything is urgent right now.”
Amahni Upshaw is the only Trojan remaining from Troy’s last conference championship. The rest are ready to make a mark of their own and be the next group to play in the NCAA Tournament.
“We are definitely hungry,” Rodgers said. “We are hungry and humble. We know what we can do. We aren’t really focused on what other teams can do to us, we are focused on what we can do to them.”
The Trojans lead the nation in total rebounds and also leads the Sun Belt Conference in rebounds per game at 50.4. For Rodgers, rebounding is a team effort.
“Rebounding is what we do,” Rodgers said. “We all have the ability to rebound. We focus on it every day. They put an emphasis on it every single day. It’s just what we do.”
The Trojans will take on seventh seeded South Alabama beginning at 2 p.m. and it can be seen on ESPN+.
“It’s very exciting. We worked hard for it,” Shaterrika O’Neal said. “We try to come in here every day and work hard. Now that we are here, it’s very exciting.”