Alabama State enters this weekend’s conference tournament with the number one seed in the East after running though the division unbeaten (9-0), but head coach Penny Lucas-White and her players know past accomplishments don’t mean a thing when the tournament kicks off this weekend.
On the other hand, past accomplishments can give you a good gauge of where the Lady Hornets stand and they’re certainly one of the teams to beat entering the tournament.
“I don’t think we feel like it’s ours to win, I feel like we have an equal opportunity,” Lucas-White said. “I think (West top seed) Texas Southern is well coached, they’re very strong. We had an opportunity to see them and I think that’s the strength on the other side that we need to definitely think about. My kids have come in every week, worked hard and reaped some of the benefits of their hard work.”
Alabama State opens the tournament against fourth-seeded Southern.
“I think it does matter who you play first so you can get a feel for the arena and what (postseason tournament) you’re playing in,” she said. “Not to take anything away from Southern, but I would prefer to start with the fourth seed before I would the second or third seed. Southern has had some season-ending injuries, which is unfortunate for them. Some of the players we would normally worry about won’t be on the court. But the thing about tournaments is anybody can show up on any given day.
“I think that’s how we’re approaching every practice. We take no prisoners and we go hard. We lock, load and execute and that’s the way we have to approach every match. My kids are so young, we can’t afford to think we’re going to cruise through anything.”
At stake is a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the winner of the conference tournament.
“We exposed them early,” Lucas-White said. “I didn’t want it to be a surprise to them, so we competed against that. That was the whole point of exposing them (to nationally ranked teams). We want to give Alabama State national recognition, not just SWAC recognition.
“It’s better than they’re young because they’re fearless. They don’t know who’s on the other side (of the net), neither do they care. I think that’s a great place to be. I think it’s awesome. My kids just want to win.”