Basketball programs show promise for improvement

Michael Shipma

Staff Writer

The Troy basketball programs look to improve from last year, as the season tipoff comes up for both the men’s and women’s teams.

The men’s team, under second-year head coach Phil Cunningham, is looking to improve on its 11-20 record from last season. Despite losing four of five starters from last season, as well as losing key returning players to injuries in the preseason, Cunningham still has high expectations for this season.

“I think this team really has a chance to get better and better as the year progresses,” Cunningham said. “If we can be healthy by the time we get to conference play and get (junior guard) Oskar Reinfelds healthy and get everyone on the same page going into the conference playoff, I think we can do pretty good.”

Returning this season for the Trojans is senior forward Kevin Thomas, who averaged 9.2 points per game last season and led the team in blocks.

The Trojans, who lack experience on the floor, will look to Thomas to be productive on the court, as well as provide

the leadership needed to win games.

“The main thing we’ve asked of Kevin is to remain consistent,” Cunningham said. “He’s had a terrific summer and a terrific preseason. He comes to work every day, and he has a great attitude every day. To me, that’s more important to be able to show the young guys how to do things than just saying it.”

The women’s team also looks to be competitive this season under third-year head coach Chanda Rigby. Rigby, who has always advocated up-tempo play, has led the Trojans the past couple of seasons to score more points than they’ve ever been able to before.

Last season, the Trojans averaged 80.4 points per game, which was the best average of any Sun Belt team that season, and 15th in the NCAA. In two seasons under Rigby, the Trojans had four 100-point games, despite Troy not even having one 100-point game in 15 years.

A big part of the Trojans being able to score so many points was having Joanna Harden, who shouldered the majority of the scoring for the Trojans last season.

“What it looks like from practice is that there’s no one person that’s going to fill those shoes,” Rigby said. “But looking at

the film from one of our scrimmages, I could see that the way we share the ball is much better than it has been at any time before.”

The women’s team looks to score more this season like it has in recent years, but this team will have to focus on a more balanced scoring attack.

The women’s team starts its season with an exhibition game at home on Thursday, Nov. 6, against the University of Alabama-Huntsville at 5:15 p.m.

The men will play right after the women, as they start their season against West Florida. Tipoff for the men’s game is set for 7:30 p.m.

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