In rare early season conference games, the undefeated Lady Blazers hit the road against Union and North Alabama to kick off GSC play for the 2012-2013 season. Since Shorter and Union were added to the Women’s Basketball Gulf South Conference the schedule is much different this year. Normally the Blazers would start GSC games in early January, but with a realigned conference they start today. After playing just four games this season the team will have to be in mid-season form in the beginning of the season. Usually teams play non-conference games for about two months before playing more important Conference games. Coach Kiley Hill says that it doesn’t matter when conference play starts, it’s all the same.
“I don’t think you are ever prepared to start conference play,” Hill said. “Right now we are just trying to figure out our identity as a basketball team. The previous [four] games are good and positive but it’s just a whole different type of intensity level once you hit conference play.”
The Lady Blazers will play at Union, new to the GSC this year, tonight at 7. The Bulldogs are 2-4 on the season and host VSU for their first appearance in the Gulf South Conference in their school’s history. The biggest challenge for VSU in this game will be matching Union’s motivation and intensity. They want to prove they belong in the conference but the Lady Blazers will look to show them that they are still years away. The injury plagued team that doesn’t have much depth, although it hasn’t slowed them down yet, will have to come ready tonight.
In a bigger, more intriguing matchup on Saturday VSU will take on North Alabama. These two teams got together three times last season. Combined in all three of those games there was a total of ten points separating the teams with the Lions winning two out of the three. Coach Hill talks about what the keys to those games will be.
“Health, foul trouble, and simply fatigue will be the biggest factors because we just don’t have the rotations,” Hill said. “We have seven, eight, nine healthy bodies max, and the latter two kids are still hurt.”
With the Blazers trying to get healthy, this isn’t the season they would have hoped to have a schedule change like the one they have now. Who knows what kind of impact these two conference games will have down the road. But one thing is for sure, every conference game counts.