After some tweaking, Hendrix College women’s coach Emily Cummings hopes the Warriors will be able to make a run in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament that begins Friday at Birmingham, Ala.
The Warriors struggled through the season, posting a 7-18 record overall and a 5-11 mark in conference. They will go into the eight-team tournament as the No. 4 seed from the West Division and will take on Centre, the No. 1 seed from the East, at 1 p.m. Friday at Homewood High School.
The winner of the tournament receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Women’s Tournament. The Warriors, West Division champions, advanced to the championship game last season before losing to DePauw.
“We had big hopes at the beginning of this season but we obviously struggled,” said Cummings during a pre-tournament podcast. “We had a couple of kinks in our lineup and rotation. We’ve really worked on what we have to do to address those kinks offensively and defensively. I think the adjustments we have made will help us out. The kids have bought into them.”
Some of those adjustments have concerned the amount of turnovers and the points the Warriors have given up off turnovers.
“Early on, teams were pressing us and that was a very good thing for them,” Cummings said. “We focused on breaking the press and that has not been where the turnovers have come lately. After we break the press and set up in the halfcourt, we haven’t had the patience to kick the ball back out and run our offense. That’s where the turnovers are coming ... If we don’t get our first option, we’re don’t go to option two, three and four. And that affects our concentration on defense. If we’re not getting stops, we’ve become stagnant on the offensive end.”
Centre defeated the Warriors, 70-55, earlier in the season in Conway.
“We played them even the first half,” Cummings said. “We executed our game plan perfectly. Then, we came out the second half with the attitude to be content and complacent when we had to come out and play harder. But we know we can play with them (the Colonels) for a half. But they are a good basketball team and well-coached.”
The Warriors are led by sophomore forward Jamie Tate, who has set league record for rebounds in a season with 347.
“I’ve never coached or been around a player who is more dedicated to success,” Cummings said. “Her spark has kept us on our toes all season.”
Keys to Friday’s game?
“Committing ourselves to putting 40 minutes together,” she said. “From our record, it’s obvious we have yet to commit to 40 minutes.”
Semifinals and finals of both the men’s and women’s tournament will be Saturday and Sunday at Birmingham Southern University.