The Future Is Bright For Longwood's Basketball Programs
Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013
CONWAY, SC –
The shirts worn at the Big South Conference Tournament by a large number of the Longwood faithful put the Lancers' season in perspective.
On the front was the number “11”, and on the back the phrase “It's not where you start…it's where you finish.”
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The LU women's basketball team was picked to finish 11th in the Big South before the season began.
If VMI sponsored women's basketball, the shirts may have read “12”.
The Longwood women didn't finish dead last. Far from it. The Lancers, who got off to a strong start in Big South regular-season play and won their first six BSC contests before a couple of key injuries – prior the toughest part of the schedule – pushed them back to the middle of the pack.
With everyone back healthy (or at least as healthy as a team can be in March), the Lancers acquitted themselves nicely in the tournament.
If the LU women had been able to hit 40 percent from the field in the championship game (they were 15-55 or 27.3 percent from the floor), the Lancers would've probably won Sunday's championship game by a good 10 points.
Open shots were created, they just didn't go through the hoop.
The Longwood men didn't get to the finals, but they did make an impressive run in Myrtle Beach.
They saw their late season rally come to an end with a three-point loss to VMI on Thursday, but in the process proved that Longwood belongs in the Big South.
The Liberty men, who finished just ahead of the Lancers in the BSC's North Division, upset Charleston Southern to win the league title and earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
It wouldn't have been a mad stretch, given the Lancers' finish to the regular season (and homecourt victory over Liberty two weeks ago), to think what may have happened if they could've gotten past the Keydets, who had been more than a thorn in the Lancers' side during the regular season.
Longwood had a chance at the end of Thursday's game, and a chance for a lot more.
They'll get another. The LU men's team served notice that they will not be an afterthought in the Big South next year. With only one senior on the roster – a reserve, Steven Shockley – and two juniors (TT Carey and David Robinson) and four freshmen in what was pretty much reduced to a six-man rotation by the end of the season, the Lancers will be among the favorites in the Big South's North Division come November.
And if the Lancers can match last year's recruiting class of Nik Brown, Lucas Woodhouse, Michael Kessens and Karl Zeigler with another just as solid…welllll…give yourself one shining moment to imagine the possibility.
The LU women's team will have to replace four senior starters (Crystal Smith, Mieke Elkington, Erin Neal and Chelsea Coward). Needless to say, those are four big holes to patch. Daeisha Brown, who as a freshman, earned a starting role, is part of a solid class that includes contributors Raven Williams and Khalilah Ali.
The LU women will be quite young next year, as those three will have to lead as sophomores, but don't expect them to have to overcome an 11th place prediction.
I think we set the bar pretty high,” said departing senior Erin Neal. “For newcomers they know we can have first place. A finish like this. That's a definite, and it's so close. I feel like if they come in with the same kind of motivation we had, they can do the same thing.”
As for those shirts…in November, those two vertical lines on the front that once stood for “11”, can now stand for the Roman Numeral “II”, leaving one question: What will happen for the Lancers in Big South Conference Season II?