The Blazers (18-2, 4-0 GSC East) are averaging 85.9 points per game, while shooting 49.4 percent from the field, including a 40-percent mark on 3-pointers.
“This is the most talented Valdosta team that I’ve seen in my 13 years,” said UWG coach Michael Cooney, who was a Wolves assistant for 10 years and is now in his third season as head coach.
West Georgia (10-9, 2-2 GSC East) is coming off a 70-67 win at West Alabama last Saturday, and Cooney is hoping the Wolves come in with a calm mindset that they can beat highly-ranked Valdosta.
“We have nothing to lose,” Cooney said. “We know that, and I hope we will play like that.”
Tonight will mark the return of “Paint it Blue,” a night where fans are encouraged to wear the school’s main color and where the school will offer multiple giveaways. In that environment last season, West Georgia came up just short in a 61-60 loss to the Blazers.
“We know that we have to put forth an even better effort,” Cooney said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
UWG Associate Athletic Director Eddie Duffey is hoping the fans can be a big part of that.
“We are looking forward to our students and fans coming out in force to be a power to help influence these games,” Duffey said.
One of the contests will offer a fan the chance to win a Motorola Droid cell phone courtesy of Verizon Wireless. Duffey expects it to be a night of great fun for families and other community groups alike, particularly students, as the school looks to surpass last year’s attendance record of 4,183 at the “Paint it Blue” night.
“This is going to be an evening that families with children can enjoy,” Duffey said. “And we certainly hope it’s one that our student body will very definitely find to be a highlight of their year.”
Cooney was particularly pleased with seniors John Pringle and Jeremy Smith at West Alabama, and the coach said junior guard Deion Sims has been stepping up his game of late. Those developments, along with junior guard Vojin Svilar’s strong play and the rest sophomore Gavin Field got this week, have Cooney optimistic.
“We feel like going into that home stretch we’re going to be pretty tough,” Cooney said.
But doing that means protecting the Wolves’ home court — starting tonight.
“You’ve got to win your home games,” Cooney said. “Going on the road in the GSC is brutal.”
And if West Georgia could pull off the massive upset, it might just be something that isn’t duplicated this season, according to Cooney.
“You may have something that nobody else gets,” Cooney said.