The UTSA Roadrunners’ women’s basketball team’s dream of a three-peat as conference champions ended in the first round of the Southland tournament to UT-Arlington. The months have passed since that day in March and now the women of the hardwood are set to begin the quest for a third trip to the NCAA tournament in four years.
For the Roadrunners, the memories of a season marked by injuries have been forgotten. Now there is only the promise of a new season. For the senior laden Roadrunners that promise is strong.
“We have a lot more leadership this year, we have five seniors so we have a lot of depth, a lot of versatility” Head coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “Last year we lost Alysse Davis and Cori Cooper to season-ending injuries but they have gotten back and are playing very well right now.”
The schedule for the Roadrunners includes games on the road at Houston, LSU, and Texas Tech.
“We have always played a tough schedule” Rippetoe-Blair said. “One reason is that our kids get really motivated to play good teams and it helps you to get prepared for the conference tournament.”
For some Roadrunners the trip to Lubbock will be familiar as it was where in 2009 the Roadrunners became the first 15 seed to ever take a 2 seed to overtime in the history of the women’s NCAA tournament in a close loss to Baylor.
“It is a big place but I think the experience of it will help” Rippetoe-Blair said. “It is nice to go in there with some confidence that you can play there, but it was great experience to play Baylor at that level.”
The home schedule includes games against SMU, TCU and Kansas State but no matter where the game is the team will need to find the post players.
“The one thing I have seen that I like, that we didn’t go to last year, is our game in the post” Rippetoe-Blair said. “Right now we are really trying to get the ball inside and our kids have bought into that. It opens up your outside game.”
While the inside game is coming along, the communication between players is still developing, but that is to be expected before a season begins.
“We need to work on our communication and defense” Rippetoe-Blair said. “That’s to be expected but with an older team you really would like for that communication to be there.”
The journey back to the NCAA’s will go through many places none more important than the Southland Conference Tournament in Katy.
“The only way to make the NCAA tournament is to win the conference tournament” Rippetoe-Blair said.
That’s the goal and that’s what the Roadrunners will work to accomplish.