Non-conference play is over, and its time for conference action to begin.
After going 7-4 over the first two months of the season, the Stetson women's basketball team will open Atlantic Sun Conference play with a two-game road trip through the state of Georgia. The Hatters will face Mercer (6-5) at 2 p.m. Monday followed by a 2:30 p.m. contest at Kennesaw State (4-7) on Wednesday afternoon. Video broadcasts for both games will be available on HatterVision via ASun.TV.
"We are very excited to get started," senior guard Victoria McGowan said. "We want to bring a championship back to Stetson. I don't think Stetson has ever won the regular season, so that's one of our goals. Also the past two years we have been the number two seed (in the A-Sun tournament), but this year we want to try and get the number one seed."
Last season, Stetson went 12-6 in conference play and finished in second place in the league standings. Prior to the start of the 2012-13 campaign, the conference's head coaches picked Stetson to finish first in the regular season as well as to win the conference tournament, placing the proverbial target on the Hatters' back.
"I think everyone gets pumped up to play us and they really go hard against us," McGowan said. "We just have to play hard and follow our game plan no matter who we are playing."
The Hatters enter league play on a bit of a roll. After starting the season 1-3, the Hatters have won six of their last seven games including their last three in a row.
Statistically, the Hatters lead the A-Sun in four offensive team categories: scoring average (69.0), field goal percentage (.436), three-point field goal percentage (.366), and free throw percentage (.762). The Hatters shot over 50% from the floor in each of their last two games, the first time they accomplished that feat in six years.
With the early season success on the offensive side, the Hatters are emphasing rebounding and defense as they prepare for the start of A-Sun action. McGowan says the challenging non-conference schedule the Hatters played should help prepare the team in those areas.
"We played schools from the ACC, Big East, and the A-10, and playing those opponents really helped us focus on our rebounding and our defense," McGowan said.
The Georgia road trip begins a busy stretch of games as the Hatters will play four games in a span of eight days. Seven of the team's first 11 conference games will be on the road, but the Hatters close the regular season with five out of seven at home.
In addition to the HatterVision/ASun.TV video broadcasts, audio from the Mercer game will be aired live on WSBB 1230 AM New Smyrna Beach, 1490 AM DeLand, on the web at myam1230.com, and on your mobile device. Robbie Aaron will call the action. Fans can also follow the Stetson women's basketball twitter account (@StetsonWBB) or subscribe to the Hat-Alerts text messaging service for in-game updates. Mercer and Kennesaw State will be providing live stats.