LORMAN, Miss. — Southern’s women’s basketball team refuses to forget Oct. 11.
That was the day the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s coaches and sports information directors slated Southern to finish fourth in a preseason poll.
To the Jaguars, it was disrespectful and insulting.
Now, sitting in first place, the Jaguars have their own message.
Here they are.
“A lot of people voted us No. 4, and we were offended,” coach Sandy Pugh said Saturday. “I’ve been at this 18 years. I can the count the amount of times we finished below No. 4. We were offended. I was offended. These kids came out and they’ve been working really hard. We want to maintain that this is Southern, and this is what we do.”
Senior forward and captain Briana Green also said the preseason poll was major motivation.
“Like I said from the beginning, fourth place, that’s the prediction,” she said. “I told everybody we’re going to come in and do something great. We have two more games left, then it’s tournament time.”
Southern (14-11, 13-3) drilled Alcorn State by 20 points on Saturday afternoon and is one win shy of clinching the SWAC’s regular-season title with a 14th win.
A win in either of the Jagaurs' final two games — Thursday against Texas Southern and Saturday versus Prairie View A&M — would clinch the regular-season title.
The Jaguars have already clinched a home game in the first round of the SWAC tournament with a top-four finish guaranteed. The SWAC tournament begins March 6 at the Delmar ISD Fieldhouse in Houston, with the championship game March 10.
“That’s what you play for; you want that first-round game at home,” Pugh said. “Then you want to go in and take care of business and want to be one of the final four going into Houston. That’s what it’s all about.”
Southern wants more. It’s why October’s preseason prediction poll still weighs heavy and remains just as effective a motivator as it was four months ago.
“It’s the end of the season,” Pugh said. “We have two games left. We want to put the hammer down.”