It’s late November, and for the Southern women’s basketball team, that annually means a series of road games against major college programs.
The Jaguars visit Nebraska on Monday to begin a string of four road games that includes visits to Kansas State (Wednesday), Iowa State (Dec. 6) and No. 8 Maryland (Dec. 11).
Nebraska, Kansas State and Maryland went to the NCAA tournament last season. Nebraska and Kansas State lost in the first ,round and Maryland lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Women’s Final Four.
Southern’s preconference schedule last season included trips to play Ole Miss, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Arizona and Florida. Southern went winless in those games, and the average final score was 79-51.
These games are a necessity because of the game guarantees they bring to programs with limited resources, but they aren’t without basketball value.
“Contrary to belief,” Jaguars coach Sandy Pugh said, “I enjoy these games because you get to learn a lot and the kids get to see what the real deal is. They get to get out and play against some of the premiere talent in the country. You get to travel to some outstanding venues.
“We always make sure that they have a great time in terms of entertainment. It’s good bonding time for us as a team. You can’t get all of that sitting at home. I always look forward to it. You might lose two or three games in the preseason, but you learn more from a loss than you do from a win. I think it’s good for us.”
Southern is 2-1 after a 50-45 victory against South Alabama on Friday night in the F.G. Clark Activity. The loss was an 88-47 setback at No. 12 Texas A&M on Nov. 15.
The Cornhuskers are 3-0 after an 88-47 victory against North Carolina Central on Saturday.
“We want to shock everybody and come up with some wins,” forward Brianna Green said. “We need to stick with our game and not focus on the hype and how big the school is. They lace up their shoes the same way that we lace up our shoes.”
Both teams start three guards, and they each start two 5-foot-7 guards and one 6-foot guard, but Southern’s 5-11 and 6-0 frontcourt starters will be matched against the Huskers’ 6-3 and 6-4 starters in the frontcourt.
Freshman forward Jessica Shepard (6-4) is the first Husker to have at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the first three games of her career.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.