Practices have been tougher for the Elizabeth City State women’s basketball team since Christmas.
Alico Dunk knows the added two-a-days are the only way to knock off rust from a 16-day game layoff before his team’s CIAA opener today against Shaw.
That’s defending Division II national champ Shaw, by the way.
“It’s concerning because they’ve already played three games from Dec. 28-30,” Dunk said. “They’ve got some playing experience lately, and all we’ve had is practice time. We’ve got to get off to a good start.”
The Lady Vikings (8-2) won’t come into the game intimidated by the No. 18-ranked Lady Bears, however.
ECSU lost a tight 74-72 decision to Shaw at the Vaughan Center last year with a last-second 3-point attempt by Jasmine Whitehurst falling just short.
With the school’s first-ever national title in hand, Shaw’s women are the preseason favorites to win the CIAA’s Southern Division.
The Lady Bears are led by all-conference pick guard Sequoyah Griffin, but also have a former Lady Viking player in junior Kearah Jeffreys, who left ECSU after her freshman year.
“Now she’s (Jeffreys) just getting back into the fold, and she’s playing really well,” Dunk said. “She’s a very good player. She plays with a lot of energy, she plays at both ends of the floor, and it’ll be a big-time challenge for us.
“Shaw will be Shaw every year. They have a lot of talented players, and they will be aggressive on both ends of the floor, and you have to match their intensity, limit turnovers and do all the little things to win.”
And it’s not just Shaw that will challenge the Lady Vikings to begin 2013. ECSU will host its first three CIAA games in a five-day stretch. After Shaw it’s St. Augustine’s on Saturday and then a Monday date with Fayetteville State.
Dunk knows there’s little room for error with a forgiving home slate.
Defeat the defending champs today, and the task of winning them all gets off to a great start.
“It’s important to take care of your business at home, and if you do that, you can be in pretty good shape,” Dunk said. “But we need to be consistently good to win in this league on a night-to-night basis, and it’s about doing the little things.
“Any time you play against the defending national champs, it’s going to be a big-time confidence builder but not only the players, but the coaches, too. To know we could play and coach against that caliber of competition is a good feeling.”