When Tulane’s women’s basketball team plays at No. 6 Florida State on Thursday night, Green Wave coach Lisa Stockton said it will be a good opportunity.
“We’ll be a better team either way coming out of it,” Stockton said. “I think we’ll really learn what it takes to play at that level.
“We now are a team that plays against (No. 1) UConn twice a year (in the American Athletic Conference). So I think, for us, we’ve got to learn to play with teams like that.”
Florida State returns four players from last season’s team, which set school records in going 27-3 overall and 14-2 (second) in the ACC. The Seminoles reached the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight, where they led South Carolina most of the game before faltering in the final minutes in an 80-74 loss.
The Seminoles are coming off an 82-72 loss at Florida on Monday in their season opener. More important, All-America point guard Leticia Romero left the game with 1 minute, 11 seconds left with a high-ankle sprain, which often takes weeks to heal.
“(Romero) is a creator, and when you look at their stats from last year, they are very, very strong on offense,” Stockton said.
Romero and center Adut Bulgak were selected to the Wooden Award women’s preseason top 30 released Tuesday. Even with Romero out, Bulgak, 6-feet-4, is one reason Tulane will have its hands full.
There are others. Florida State outrebounded Tulane 50-35 in winning last year’s game 65-54 at Fogelman Arena. Ivey Slaughter, a 6-1 forward, had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Shooting guard Brittany Brown, known for getting offensive rebounds, had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“Rebounding will be one key,” Stockton said. “They are a great transition offensive team.”
With Florida State, then LSU on Monday, heading four upcoming opponents who reached last season’s NCAA tournament, Stockton has stressed rebounding. Freshman Harlyn Wyatt, a 6-2 freshman, had 11 in Tuesday’s rout of Jackson State.
“Before I went into the game, Coach was saying ‘rebound, rebound, rebound,’” Wyatt said. “At practice, we always focus on rebounding. So whatever I can bring rebounding, that’s what I’m going to do.”