And as the UWG coach makes the turn for a second run through the league slate, there aren’t many secrets about what to expect come each Thursday and Saturday on game nights.
“In general, I think that the league is extremely balanced. I think on any given night — and we say this all the time, I think it’s coach-speak — but this year I think it rings true more than most. Anybody can beat anybody else,” Groninger said. “As far as Huntsville, it was [Nov. 29] when we played them. I can’t even remember that far back. I think both teams are a lot different. I know we’ve gotten a lot better and I expect the same out of them. A good, veteran group that won a bunch of games last year. We’re going to have our hands full.”
The Lady Chargers (8-11, 5-4 GSC) are led by the 1-2 punch of junior guards Jasmine Hammon and Jordan Smith, who rank second and fourth in the league in scoring at 18.3 and 15.4 points per game, respectively.
Hammon, who was the GSC Freshman of the Year two seasons ago and a First Team All-GSC performer last year, has scored in double figures in every game this season, including dropping 27 points on the Wolves — 16 in the second half — as the catalyst in the Lady Chargers’ rallying from 16 points down in a 58-53 win over West Georgia (11-6, 5-4) on No. 29 in the GSC opener.
Smith is another All-GSC selection and the younger sister of UAH men’s standout guard Jaime Smith.
“They’re both great players. They’re both used to clutch situations. They’re hard to guard and they’re hard not to foul. I don’t know that you necessarily shut them down, you just try to win the game,” Groninger said. “But again, a great challenge for us coming up. And that’s what you want at this time of the year. We’re at the point now where we need to start really executing. As you get into February, you want to start priming yourself to be playing your best basketball the last week of February going into March.”
UAH and West Georgia are tied in the league standings at 5-4 and in the thick of the hunt heading into February. The Lady Chargers have dropped three straight, though, while the Wolves aim to rebound from a 65-61 setback against Union University this past Saturday in Jackson, Tenn.
West Georgia will look to start the second half of the conference season on a positive note and avenge the early-season loss to the Lady Chargers, though Groninger said it’s not necessarily about using the Nov. 29 setback as any kind of motivating factor this evening.
“Yes and no. You’d be surprised. I think at the end of the day, there’s no revenge. That game’s over. If we win this game, that’s great. But we still lost that game at Huntsville. So there’s nothing you can do about that. Our approach is we’ve got nine games left and every single game is important to us as we try to build momentum and try to get better,” Groninger said. “So I don’t think there’s any special revenge factor or anything like that. They’re a good ball club, they’re coming into our gym to play and we want to win the game.”