In a season of new experiences, University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel got an unexpected one Sunday night.
"I thought somebody was coming into my garage; it was the earthquake," Daniel said. "I had never experienced anything like that."
This week, the Sugar Bears (17-10) hope to shake up things in a different way as they battle for seeding in making their first appearance in the Southland Conference tournament.
The UCA women have a Senior Night game (Megan Moss and Brea Banks are the only seniors) at the Farris Center on Wednesday night before traveling to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday. The Sugar Bears will stay on the road and travel to Katy, Texas (Houston suburb), where the tournament will begin for them Tuesday.
The middle of the SLC women’s standings is a jumble, so the UCA women could gain anywhere from a No. 3 to a No. 7 seed for the tournament.
Daniel said Monday at the weekly Bearbackers luncheon he is happy the Sugar Bears made the tourney in their first year of eligibility but he and his team are looking beyond that. They would like to make a deep run in the tournament.
"We told our freshmen that we are trying to win 20 games every year they are here; the worst we can finish is 17-13," he said. "We’ve averaged 19 wins the last two years and that presents its own type of challenges. It’s getting hard to schedule games and it could be difficult to retain staff."
The Sugar Bears got a 25-point, 20-rebound effort from Megan Herbert in a road win over Nicholls. Herbert was held to three rebounds in Saturday’s win over Southeastern Louisiana but she had six assists and no turnovers.
"But Nakeia Guiden was perfect from the field, Britney Gowins gave us a huge lift, Marci Moffitt was consistent and Desiree Rogers had a good game," Daniel said.
Men’s coach Corliss Williamson said his team’s focus Tuesday was so bad at practice before Wednesday’s Nicholls game he kicked the players out of the gym. The Bears had a poor overall effort in a loss to the Colonels.
He changed the approach to practice for the road game at Southeastern Louisiana. He made it a competition with game-like conditions between the current players and Williamson, his assistants and the redshirts.
"It was a competitive game," Williamson said. "Of course, we won. I’m not gonna let them beat us."
Even though the Bears lost for the 22nd time this season Saturday on the road at Southeastern Louisianam 74-63, Williamson was pleased with a lot he saw.
"The effort was there again," he said. "We had a good first half, then got away from the precision on offense of what we were doing. If we have that kind of effort, we have the opportunity to close the season the right way."
Seniors who will be honored during Saturday’s season-finale against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Farris Center are Imad Quahwash, Carlos Dos Santos, Tadre Shepherd, Mike Pouncy and Jaquan McClinton. T.K. Smith is graduating early and will also not return next season.
"This time of the year, it’s hard to keep guys from not giving up," Williamson said. "They feel they have nothing to play for. Our staff has done a good job with trying to keep them motivated. We had a little slippage, but for the most part, our guys come to work every day."