Can a McNeese State team that was blown out by LSU a year ago at Burton Coliseum hope to compete with the Lady Tigers on their home floor?
Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams certainly thinks so, and will find out today when McNeese tips off with the Tigers (7-3) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 2 p.m.
“They’re such a different team from last season. I think we both are,” Donald Williams said. “They’ve graduated some important pieces of their puzzle and have had some younger kids step up. It’s going to be a great challenge for our kids, but we’ve had some great practices lately and are getting better defensively.
“Things are starting to click. I think we’ve got a great chance.”
The Cowgirls (4-4) also have an important piece back in the lineup in guard Alaina Verdin, who scored 17 points in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Southern-New Orleans. It was Verdin’s first game back after redshirting last season with an ACL tear.
McNeese was plagued by late scoring droughts in losses at Rice and Louisiana Tech, and getting Verdin back may be a step towards avoiding that problem in the future.
“We’ve put Alaina Verdin in the lineup, and that’s going to help us more than a little bit,” Donald Williams said. “You look back at those games, and we’re getting some really good looks. But we have put in some things to maybe relieve some pressure from the guards and let other guys touch it more.”
McNeese’s biggest disadvantage will come trying to match up with 6-foot-5 LSU center Theresa Plaisance, who is averaging 17.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
“Their inside game is going to be tough for us. We know that going in,” Donald Williams said. “We feel it’s going to be a great challenge for our kids.
“Similar to Vanderbilt, we’re going to try to take away any easy passes into the post. That’s going to take being in great defensive position on every catch. It goes hand-in-hand with our guards pressuring the ball as well.”