Not only is the Texas Tech women’s basketball team opening on the road, they’re opening against Pac 12 Conference school Arizona State.
A welcome change to the normal slate of early-season cupcakes many big schools schedule to start the season, as teams look to find early rhythm without having to suffer a loss or travel too far from home.
“I think it’s exactly what this team needs,” Tech coach Kristy Curry said,
The Lady Raiders proved they could get up for the big games last season — twice taking powerhouse Baylor to the brink in a pair of single-digit losses — but they suffered through some listless stretches at times against inferior teams.
Tech opens the season against Arizona State, which won 20 games last year and lost in the first round of the WNIT, and then turns around to face New Mexico in The Pit, which Curry calls one of the toughest places to play in the nation.
“I think we’re up for the challenge,” Tech guard Casey Morris said. ”We’re always excited. Coach Curry said she wanted to switch it up this year and not just open up at home and wanted to play on the road, and I think we’re ready for a challenge like that.”
The Lady Raiders bring in a talented group of guards on a senior-laden team, and Morris believes the early-season road tests should bring the leadership out of Tech.
Morris admitted that the five senior guards didn’t lead too well in last weekend’s 77-62 exhibition win against Midwestern State, but Sunday’s season-opener gives them a chance to make a statement.
The Lady Raiders play the Sun Devils at 3 p.m. Sunday in Tempe, Ariz., in both teams’ regular-season opener.
“This is a test to just show how committed we are to the program on Sunday against Arizona State,” Morris said, “because we all are. So we just need to show it, and make sure we lead the freshmen and tell them how confident we are and we make sure everyone knows that we can do it and be just as good as we think we can.”
Tech’s struggles last season have been well documented — a five-game losing streak in Big 12 play and 14 losses in its final 21 games — but the Lady Raiders played like a top-10 team for the first half of the season, garnering a No. 10 ranking to show it.
While Curry always is eager to talk about how different a college basketball season is, where unlike college football an early-season loss isn’t as catastrophic, Tech can still make a statement about where the program is with strong showings in these first two games.
The Lady Raiders face New Mexico at 8 p.m. Thursday, not playing at home until Nov. 17 against Lipscomb.
“(The first two road games are) just to prepare us for Big 12 play early in the season, making a point with our team that we’ve got to improve and be a better road team,” Curry said, “and to do that — how do you do it? You challenge them early and often in the preseason.”
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