UWG women’s coach Scott Groninger said the extra days off this week proved to be a welcome break for his squad heading into today’s tilt with the Tigers (9-10, 4-7 GSC).
“It’s a bye week and everybody has it at different times. I think it was a good time for us. A chance to kind of catch our breath and to work on some things. So I think it was a good time,” Groninger said.
The Wolves (12-7, 6-5) are looking to build momentum down the stretch run of the regular season with six games remaining after today’s contest prior to the GSC Tournament.
And with a pair of tough road dates slated for next week — at Valdosta State on Thursday and West Florida on Saturday — getting a ‘W’ today is critical to starting that upward trend.
The Tigers feature senior forward Brittany Weathers, the No. 1 scorer in the GSC at 19.7 points per game, though she has seen limited action in the past two games. The Hattiesburg, Miss., product played 20 minutes against Shorter on Jan. 31 and just 13 minutes in a 74-69 loss to Alabama-Huntsville last Saturday.
Groninger wasn’t exactly sure of Weathers’ status entering today’s contest, but he said whenever she’s on the floor, she’s always a threat.
“Even the last game, she played 13 minutes, but she still went 2-for-3 from 3s. She’s a good player. Whatever percentage is left, she’s still a really good player,” Groninger said.
Weathers scored a game-high 24 points in the Tigers’ 82-61 win over the Wolves on Jan. 5 in Livingston, Ala., with senior guard Nikkia Jordan adding 20.
Groninger said his ball club didn’t play particularly well that night, and the UWG coach is looking for a bounce-back showing today.
“For us to be successful here, I think a key is going to be put on rebounding the basketball. We’ve got to be tough inside. We’ve got to do what we do and kind of play our style and let things come to us a little better than we did up there,” Groninger said.
UWG men: Michael Cooney’s ball club is hungry for a ‘W’ and it will do a little Tiger-hunting today at The Coliseum in a 4 p.m. foray.
The only problem entering the contest is a flu-bug that’s infested the Wolves (7-12, 4-7) this week as they attempt to snap their current six-game slide, with senior guard Quincy Hill and redshirt freshman forward Dan Trimble both laboring through the effects.
“Quincy was trying to get an IV [Friday] and Dan, I would say, is very doubtful for [today]. Quincy is questionable and Dan is doubtful,” Cooney said. “Other than that, everybody else seems OK at this point. We went Monday and Tuesday pretty short because it became apparent that this bug was hitting us, so Wednesday we shut it down pretty much and got going back again Thursday.”
The Tigers (7-11, 3-8) come to Carrollton on a skid of their own — losers of three straight — but feature a strong backcourt tandem in senior Steven Samuels and junior Sandy Underwood, who are tied for fourth in league in scoring at 16.1 points per game. Samuels is the reigning GSC Player of the Week after averaging 21 points, eight rebounds, five steals and 4.5 assists in losses to Shorter and No. 9 Alabama-Huntsville last week. The duo also gets to the glass, with Samuels averaging 7.4 rebounds and Underwood at 7.3 boards per game, ranking fifth and sixth in the GSC, respectively.
“They’re playing well. They lose a heartbreaker to Huntsville on an in-bounds possession with nine seconds to go, and then you lose by four to Shorter. They’ve changed up offensively a little bit to more of a spread offense. It’s real difficult to guard with their guards, Samuels and Underwood,” Cooney said.
The Wolves won a 70-61 decision over the Tigers on Jan. 5 in Livingston, Ala., behind a 22-point effort from junior forward Sean Boston. Cooney said while his squad has struggled to get that elusive ‘W,’ in recent weeks, he is confident it will rebound.
“I don’t think of us as a bad team. I think we’re a team that is overmatched a little bit with the depletion of Ryan Godfrey, Lavon Gray and Phillip Flowers. But I don’t think of us as a bad team. We’re a team that’s struggling. You know, we’ve got a bunch of young guys — eight freshmen and sophomores out there — they’re trying to do the very, very best they can. As a coaching staff, we’re doing the very, very best we can,” Cooney said.
“You look at West Alabama, they’re very similar. They’ve got good personnel, they can beat anybody on a given night. If we’re not ready to play [today], they can come in and beat us. It’s going to be that way every night for the rest of the season.”