The Southern women’s basketball team hasn’t played a game in nearly two weeks.
The Jaguars (2-8) completed their nonconference schedule with losses to Florida (78-49) and Georgia Southern (68-52) in the Gator Holiday Classic on Dec. 21-22.
So they have had plenty of time to enjoy the holidays and also hone their game for the start of Southwestern Conference play against Prairie View at 3 p.m. Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
“We’re really looking forward to this,” senior guard Kendra Coleman said after practice Friday. “We’ve been waiting for this all year. It’s finally here and we’re ready.”
Southern’s two wins came in its only home games — an 85-50 victory against Mobile College in the season opener (Nov. 14) and an 80-69 victory against Florida A&M (Dec. 17) before heading to the Florida tournament.
“We’ve taken this down time to work on our post game,” coach Sandy Pugh said. “We recognized during the preseason that we weren’t getting any (easy) post points. A couple of things we needed to work on was the fast break and getting out in transition, but in order to do that you’ve got to rebound.”
Pugh said Southern has “tweaked” its offense to get the post players more involved and develop more inside-outside balance.
Coleman, who’s OK after missing the last game 1½ games in Florida because of a concussion, is playing primarily at her customary shooting guard position. She had played some point guard, but Pugh said Bonnie Scott has played better of late and regained her role as the top point guard.
“My part now is to be a leader,” Scott said, “get everybody where they’re supposed to be.”
Pugh said she’s looking for better ball security, aggressive defense and improved rebounding so the Jaguars can run their fast break consistently.
Leading scorer Britney Washington (14.0), who didn’t play against Georgia Southern after missing all six of her field goal attempts against Florida, has shot the ball better in practice this week, Pugh said. Washington will reprise her sixth-man’s role Saturday.
Pugh said post player Kenidi Robinson is doubtful for Saturday after an elbow to the mouth in practice sent her to the dentist Friday.
Prairie View is 3-9 after a 108-64 loss at No. 6 Baylor on Monday. Southern won both regular-season meetings last season — 88-74 at Prairie View to open conference play and 69-59 at the Clark Activity Center.
But the Panthers beat the Jaguars 72-43 in the semifinals of the SWAC tournament last March.
Southern, the SWAC regular-season champion last season, was picked first in the preseason poll this year. Prairie View, last year’s tournament champion, was picked third.
The Panthers are led by senior guard Jeanette Jackson, the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year, who leads the league in scoring (17.9) and assists (4.3), and senior forward Larissa Scott, the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.