While many Tarleton State basketball fans are still celebrating the TexAnns Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship from over the weekend, the team has already shifted it's focus onto the upcoming NCAA South Central Regional Tournament this weekend in Pueblo, CO.
The TexAnns entered the LSC Tournament last weekend as the No. 5 seed and were seen as long shot favorites to come out on top, but did so with wins over Texas A&M-Commerce, A&M-Kingsville and Angelo State.
Winning the conference tournament was the first time the program had achieved that success since 2012 and the first time under head coach Misty Wilson. Despite that, the team isn't lingering on past success.
"Honestly I think we’re back to being focused on this upcoming weekend. I think we’ve come back down from the high," said Wilson. "We had the moment to really enjoy and savor it and deal with all the people who are still talking about it. The team showed up to practice and had a good one. We were a bit tired and we’re taking it a bit easy, but we’re ready for Colorado."
Tarleton will travel to Colorado with a 16-13 record, which includes their three straight wins in the LSC tournament. That may not seem all that impressive to the common fan, but the majority of the losses have been in games where they weren't flat out-matched, but instead the game had one decision or one big play go against them.
Knowing that they've clearly been able to compete with whomever they've lined up against, being the No. 8 seed and facing the No. 1 seed, Colorado State-Pueblo, isn't something that has the team feeling second-rate.
"I think every game we’ve played this year we’ve had the opportunity to get better and learn. Those overtime wins where we had a big lead and maybe lost it and went into overtime, we learned from those games," Wilson said. "If we can stay true to ourselves we know we won’t put ourselves out of any game. We don’t need anyone to be a hero or one person to dig us out. I think the girls understand that team concept and they’re buying into it."
If that wasn't enough for the TexAnns to feel optimistic about their chances then the fact that the two teams have already played once this season should also help.
The two teams played back on November 19 with the Thunderwolves winning the affair at home, 76-64, but both teams have changed a lot in that time.
"The first time we played we didn’t even have our main offense installed. It was so early in the year. It was like two and a half weeks from Midnight Madness until that game and we just didn’t have enough time to implement everything we wanted to," Wilson said. "We had a different team then, offensively and defensively. We know our chemistry is much better now than it was. But it’s the same for them. They’ve developed as well and both teams are doing things better. It should be a better ballgame in general."
With the players and team experiencing the NCAA Regional Tournament for the first time shortly after also experiencing the conference tournament championship, it could be easy to become carried away and satisfied. That isn't what Wilson expects from her team though. Since the LSC Tournament came to a close it's been all work and her players she says have shown up still hungry to grasp what lies in front of them.
"I think we’re excited, but we aren’t content," she said. "We’re happy we gave ourselves a chance though. We’ve shown up to practice and they aren’t smiling. We are all back to business. There’s a quick turnaround and we can’t stay focused on the conference tournament."
The TexAnns and Colorado State-Pueblo will tipoff at 6:30 p.m. Friday.