Banners representing the members of the American Athletic Conference now hang in Devlin Fieldhouse, and the league logo is on the court.
Before Tulane’s women’s basketball team faces a team from its strong league, it will host Southwestern Athletic Conference foe Mississippi Valley State in its season opener Friday night in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Senior Danielle Blagg finished last season with team-leading totals in points-per-game with 12, 61 3-pointers and a .394 3-point percentage. She emphasized the importance of these opening contests.
“We’ve been looking forward to these games for what seems like a really long time now,” she said. “We’ve been preparing since last season since the last game. They’re really important. Everything we’ve been preparing is basically for these games.”
Following Friday’s game, Tulane travels to play McNeese State on Sunday before visiting LSU on Wednesday.
“We are just excited to play. I think we’re going to have a lot of adrenaline to open up this weekend,” coach Lisa Stockton said. “We’ve got three games in a very short amount of time. It’s a quick turnaround when you look at Friday, Sunday and Wednesday. I think we’re just so ready to get out there and really play a real game. We’ve had some scrimmages.”
While Mississippi Valley State ended last season 9-21, McNeese finished 19-14 and ended the year with a first-round loss of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. LSU was 21-13 and made it to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.
Tulane finished last year 20-11 and made it to the first round of the WNIT. Having 10 of 12 letter winners from last season’s team back will provide a boost.
“It’s very helpful for the coaching staff,” Stockton said. “We certainly know people’s strength’s and where to put them in certain situations. I think the thing that impresses me the most about this group is just how competitive we are. Our underclassmen have really improved. I think they’ve really come and added a different level of competitiveness to our practice.”
Blagg said having most of last year’s team back is important because it is easier to discern what someone else might do on the court. While many are back from last year’s squad, the San Antonio native said to expect a different team.
“The team has really helped me grow,” Blagg said. “I think we’ve grown as a team because we’ve added three new freshmen. I think a lot of people have developed their game. I think it’s just really helped our team. I think we’re a different team than we were last year and the years before. You’re going to see a different team out there.”
A goal Stockton has for the first couple of games is gaining momentum for the rest of the season.
“I think it’s building some momentum,” she said. “It’s playing well and trying to build some momentum. Each team you coach has a personality. I think these first few weeks are a part of developing what kind of personality we have. “
One way to gain momentum is to build consistency.
“We felt like we were inconsistent at times last year, and that’s one of the things we’ve been really focusing on is just being tougher, being more consistent,” Stockton said. “And I hope in the first few weeks of the season we can address that and show some consistency.”
NOTE: Stockton on Thursday announced the signings of 6-foot-6 forward Ksenija Madzarevic (Rabun Gap, Georgia) and 5-10 guard Taylor Emery (Tampa, Florida), bringing the Wave’s 2015-16 signing class to five players.