The women’s basketball team held its first official practice of the season bright and early Thursday morning.
“If we’re going to be practicing on the first day we’re allowed, we’re going to practice on the first minute of the first day allowed,” head coach Julie Goodenough said.
But although it was their first official practice of the 2016-17 season, the team has been plenty busy in the wake of its 26-4 conference championship campaign a season ago.
“We were able to play two games together as a team, and work out together this summer in Canada,” Goodenough said. “We’re looking forward to that really catapulting us and giving us an edge at the beginning of the season. It was phenomenal, and was an opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to work out and actually play games against real teams.”
In those two games ACU earned a 75-67 victory over Carleton and an 85-55 blowout over Queen’s University.
The Wildcats will also have a full slate early, as they will take the floor as early as Nov. 11 in the preseason Women’s NIT against Missouri.
From there the schedule yields little, as they travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M Nov. 26 and Waco to face Baylor Dec. 1. These two team represent the two most recent national champions, before Connecticut won the last four. However, the schedule does get somewhat easier for the Wildcats with teams like Sul Ross State and Harding visiting Moody before they start conference play on New Year’s Eve against Southeastern Louisiana.
Coach Goodenough said this is one of the best teams top to bottom she’s seen come through ACU beginning with the reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year Alexis Mason, and seniors Suzzy and Lizzy, and two-time third team All-Southland Conference forward Sydney Shelstead.
“They came in as freshman and immediately became leaders of the team,” Goodenough said. “I expect the most from them every single game, but I’m really looking forward to what these girls do in their last season, especially Lizzy, after coming back from her injury.”
Lizzy missed the end of last season with a torn ACL.
Mason said she’s ready to win another conference championship with her girls, after making it to the WNIT for the first time in school history.
“It’s a little early to talk about individual goals,” Mason said. “But I think it’s pretty clear that we want back-to-back Southland Conference Championships for our senior year. We’ve got a great team of girls and I’m excited to see what can come out of it.”
Mason is also quick to point out the four freshman on the team, as well as transfer Taudenciah Oluoch from Tyler Junior College.
“We have a great group of young freshman this year, especially at the guard position,” Mason said. “Dominique, Breanna, and Pamela strengthen the guard position, and we have a great new center in Lexi Kirgan.”
ACU will take on McMurry University Nov. 7 in a tune-up game, before heading to Columbia, Missouri that Friday for the first round of the preseason WNIT.