After nine days off for the Thanksgiving holiday, the University of West Georgia women's basketball team returns to action tonight at 6 when it opens Gulf South Conference play at Shorter in Rome.
Five games into the 2017-18 regular season, UWG (3-2) enter tonight's league opener having experienced the usual up and downs associated with the early parts of a campaign. Starting the season 2-1, the Wolves fell flat in last in their home opener versus Albany State last Monday before turning around to pound Fort Valley State with a 76-52 victory the following day.
Despite splitting the two contests, head coach Scott Groninger wasn't too enthused with the way both ballgames played out. He chalks it up to a variety of early-season factors at hand.
"We're really disappointed in our two home games (last) Monday and Tuesday. We feel like we didn't play well and there's a lot of factors for that. We have a lot of moving pieces right now with new players and injuries and other stuff," Groninger said.
"Everyone in the country is going through this. November and early December basketball is usually pretty awful because teams haven't hit their stride yet and we're one of those teams. It's hard to be patient at times because we're making a lot of mental mistakes with poor turnovers and things like that, but it's part of the process. We'll get through it and be better at it. It's going to take some time."
Groninger's team is currently being led by senior point guard Kayla Carter, averaging 15.8 points and 3.6 assists per game, and Aysha Harris, averaging 10.4 points and 3.4 steals per game. On top of the the usual early-season growing pains, the head coach indicated that this week in particular has been an extra burden for Carter, Harris and Co. with finals coming up next week.
"A lot of stuff's due and it's a hard week academically for our players," Groninger said. "To get them to come in, put in the time for practice and open up conference on the road with two tough opponents on the road is a challenge, for sure."
Making the short trek up to Rome, West Georgia is facing a Shorter (1-4) squad still finding its footing under first-year head coach Dawn Brown. Led offensively by freshman guard Jasmine Gaines, this year's Hawks is an unknown to Groninger and his staff.
"I'm not familiar with (Brown) personally. She's added some players to the roster that we're not as familiar with, so we're going in not as comfortable knowing who we're playing against and the things they're going to do," Groninger said. "But just like us, they're going through the same things we are in trying to figure things out."
UWG will follow this conference tilt with a trip up to Cleveland, Tennessee, on Saturday for a 2 p.m. showdown at Lee. These two road games will provide a perfect measuring stick for the Wolves to see where they stand in the early stages of the season.
"Home teams in our conference typically play pretty well," Groninger said. "Shorter and Lee are tough places to play, so we'll have our hands full."