Trojans begin a new season at Trojan Arena

Published 6:50 pm Monday, November 4, 2019

Troy Women’s basketball begins the 2019-20 season on Tuesday when they host Fort Valley State at Trojan Arena.

The Trojans will play their first of 11 non-conference games to kick off the season. Two of their first three games will be played at Trojan Arena.

The Trojans enter Tuesday’s game coming off a successful preseason camp where they played two Power 5 schools.

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“We can’t publicize our two preseason scrimmages, but we scrimmaged some Power 5 Schools,” head coach Chanda Rigby said. “We did fantastic. We couldn’t be more pleased with how we competed in the preseason.”

Rebounding will always be a point of emphasis for Rigby’s Trojans.  It’s one of many things the Trojans have worked on this spring.

“We have things to work on, namely holding off on being aggressive on defense, we are fouling way too much,” Rigby said. “Rebounds are not where we want them to be. We want to lead the nation in rebounding and that’s been a little down in the preseason. But, as far as competing at a high level, we definitely see a glimpse that this group is going to be able to do that.”

Senior forward Amber Rivers was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt second team, while Japonica James earned third-team honors. The Trojans roster will consist of seven seniors and five juniors.

“Our returning players have stepped up,” Rigby said. “I would say that we have seven seniors that are extremely talented. What’s great is they have a chip on their shoulder because we didn’t meet our goals of what we wanted to do last season, which is making it to the NCAA Tournament. The new ones coming in compliment us so well.”

In addition to River and James, perhaps one of the more improved players on the roster is Jasmine Robinson. Robinson finished last year averaging 6.5 points per game.

“She had to start as a freshman and she had to play a lot as a sophomore,” Rigby said. “She has really settled in and knows how it’s going.”

The Trojans were picked to finish second behind Little Rock this season. Even though the traditional powers are still picked to finish near the top of the conference, Rigby believes top to bottom, the Sun Belt Conference continues to get stronger.

“The Sun Belt Conference jumped in the rankings higher than any other conference,” Rigby said. “The level of play in the Sun Belt Conference is so much better. The main teams are still at the top. Little Rock, I imagine is still going to be ranked high. There are so many good teams. There is no way to know at this point.”

The conference aims to one day be a conference that sends more than one team to the NCAA Tournament, as is custom for non-Power 5 schools.

“We would ultimately love one day for the NCAA to look at us and say you’re deserving to have two teams in the NCAA Tournament,” Rigby said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous that some conferences might have eight automatic bids and there might be five in the Sun Belt that beat that team. It’s strategic with the way we schedule and it’s raised the level of play in the Sun Belt.”

The Trojans hope to compete for the automatic bid when they begin play in the conference tournament in New Orleans beginning on March 10.

Troy’s non-conference schedule features two Power 5 opponents. They will travel to take on Mississippi State on November 18 in a rematch of their 2017 NCAA Tournament game. The Trojans will also travel to Durham, North Carolina to take on Duke on November 24.

Troy will begin conference play on January 2 against Coastal Carolina at Trojan Arena.