Playing as an Independent basketball team and unable to play in NCAA postseason tournaments makes it a little more challenging when it comes to deciding on goals for the season.
While other schools are gunning for conference championships and tournament berths, Utah Valley women’s basketball team is forced to shoot for a win total and an Independent championship.
At least there’s an Independent tournament though. The men don’t have one.
With six regular-season games left, all against Independent teams, and three Independent tournament games, the women, at 13-6, have a shot at reaching their goal of 20 wins this season.
The players have talked about it and they know it’s going to take concentration but the schedule does get easier.
If the team doesn’t reach the 20-win mark, it won’t necessarily mean a disappointing season but it will be a season in which the team didn’t live up to its full potential.
A potential that rose early in the season with a vote in the AP Top 25 poll but that fell slightly with losses to Montana State, BYU, Denver and last week Cal State Bakersfield.
After an eight-game win streak to start the season, the Wolverines search for 20 wins since playing Division I looked surer than a democrat taking over as president.
All but two of those wins came in games played in Utah.
On the road, things haven’t go so well. The team lost is riding a six-game, road losing streak after falling hard to Cal State Bakersfield 94-78.
But 20 wins are very doable still.
With Robyn Fairbanks, Sandy Marvin and Julie McMurray leading the way and four of the final six games at home, where the team hasn’t lost this season, the team should win out. A 22-6 record playing D-I competition is no small feat either.
This team is the best Independent team out there and playing a tougher schedule than most other teams. Longwood is the only other Independent with a winning record.
Though the challenges of playing Independents compared to playing other teams earlier in the schedule aren’t as great, there are some.
The team has had a lot of time off and will have to get back into the swing of things. With eight games in December there was plenty of time for the team to get in sync on the court. The team will play five games in January and four in February, leaving plenty of time for practice and schoolwork.
Perhaps the time off hurt the team in its first game in more than two weeks against the Roadrunners.
Another obstacle will be getting ready to play weaker opponents after competing against Duke and other good teams.
Coach Cathy Nixon will have them ready. She knows her team and she knows what it takes to win. The team expects 20 plus wins and the team should get there.