For UWG coach Michael Cooney, the break was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it let his short-handed team rest up a little bit. But on the other, it is a long layoff for a group that prides itself on being in shape.
"We wish we had two or three more days to get ready for the game, but we don't and they're in the same boat. It's hard to get going after being off for eight days or nine days. We're nowhere near ready to play a game, but that's what happens with these games in December," Cooney said. "We're really a well-conditioned basketball team. Rest is important, but eight days or nine days is a lot. Now we're working to get those guys back in the condition they were in."
There will be some help for UWG (4-5), as Quincy Hill and Thomas Higginbotham have recovered from a couple of minor ailments coming out of the break, Scott Oudendyk is coming back from a foot injury and the Wolves add Spencer Ford — a 6-foot-9, 220-pound big man — coming back after two years off due to an Achilles' injury.
The UWG coach has also been pleased with the play of Dan Trimble coming out of the break, as the Wolves will travel with 11 players capable of picking up minutes for the first time this season.
For the Cougars (4-4), it is a three-headed offense led by B.J. Battle's 12.8 points per game, with Rory Miller adding 11.2 and Winford Ivey chipping in 10.5 per contest. In the first meeting, a 73-60 UWG win, Battle scored 19, but no other Columbus State player reached double figures.
"Rory Miller made one basket against us and then I think he had 17 [points] against Clayton State. We know what a prolific scorer he is. We played against him when he was with North Alabama. That was a month ago. They're obviously better, they're in their home building, so we're going to have our work cut out for us," Cooney said. "They definitely have the ability to score the ball."
Offensively, the Wolves will have to deal with the zone defense and overcome early-season struggles — going 0-3 — on the road.
The game, while Cooney wishes there was a little more time to prepare for it, will help get the Wolves ready for the return to Gulf South Conference play.
"Of course, we need the game to get ready for conference. We have North [Alabama] on the fifth, so this is our last tuneup for conference," Cooney said.
The UWG coach also wanted to let former West Georgia standout Tim Criswell know his family is in the UWG family's thoughts as his son, Riley, suffered a major knee injury during a high school tournament down in Florida on Thursday night.
"Our prayers go out to the Criswell family and Riley right now after surgery and the awful news of his injury. We want the Criswell family to know that he is in our prayers as he gets on this road to recovery," Cooney said. "It's really bad to hear that. It made us all sick to our stomachs."