The Wolves (3-2) are dealing with a new cast on the court with some returning players, while the Chargers (3-2) return a pair of First-Team All-GSC performers from a year ago, not to mention the conference schedule is opening over a month earlier than it did a year ago.
"Hopefully, we've learned a little bit with our approach to Huntsville. Huntsville is a very good team, picked to win our league and has all those kids coming back. It's probably to their advantage to play early than it is us. We're not going to play our best basketball for a while. We've got to grow into this thing while [UAH coach Roy Heintz] has everybody coming back, along with a couple really good freshmen," UWG coach Scott Groninger said.
Coming into the year, the third-year coach felt if his team played to its ability, it could beat anybody on the schedule. That has taken a hit with a pair of tough losses, as a lot of new players are getting used to the system. There has been one thing that has stopped the Wolves from playing up to that potential.
"Inconsistency from really a lot of things that we're doing. That sounds really negative — and probably is on a lot of levels — but at Georgia College we make 11 3's and shoot the ball great, the next game we shot the ball decent, then after that we really haven't shot the ball very well. Rebounding has been an issue. Then the last game we had was our best rebounding game," Groninger said.
"Like most teams, I think in the beginning of the year you're inconsistent and it's weird to be playing a conference game this early. We talked about that. It is what it is. Our kids have finals. I have five players that have finals Saturday morning, so it's been a struggle to get them focused this week, practice-wise."
The Wolves snapped a two-game skid on Saturday with an emphatic 77-36 win against Morris. But they will be facing a very different animal tonight.
The Lady Chargers have Jasmine Hammond and Jordan Smith coming in averaging 18 and 16.4 points per game, respectively, as they headlined the preseason All-GSC team after picking up first-team honors last year. Halle Jarnigan (9.0) and Natalie Kelley (9.6) add additional scoring threats, while Jarnigan leads the way with 8.4 rebounds per game.
UAH is coming off a pair of losses, but that doesn't make preseason favorites to win the conference any less dangerous.
"If they're sitting 5-0, then they don't think they can get beat. Not only did they get beat, but they lost a heartbreaker when they made a crazy play and fouled with .2 seconds to go in a tie game. Then they came out and get beat by 40, that's a little humbling. Their confidence might be shaken a little bit, but they've also had eight or nine days to correct those things," Groninger said.
The return of Breonna Mosley this past Saturday is a boost, because it gives Groninger another option and adds another player with experience running the UWG offense and defense. While she isn't 100 percent returning from an injury, the junior scored nine points in her first game back.
"If we play her, she's going to rebound. She's always rebounded, and she's going to know what she's doing," Groninger said. "It just gives us more depth in everything and gives everybody breathing room with foul trouble. Everything becomes expanded because of her."
Even with some early mixed results and some things still needing work, the Wolves have just one goal in mind tonight — win.
"We're not going down there just to feel good about it, we're going down there to beat Huntsville," Groninger said.