Article and photos by Cody Cunningham, graduate assistant in sports information
Coming off of a Sweet Sixteen appearance and a Gulf South Conference Championship in the first season eligible for the NCAA postseason, Coach Mark Campbell and the Lady Bulldog basketball team decided to take on some of the best teams in the country. To open up its season Union traveled to Louisiana State University and then on to the University of Kentucky for exhibition matches to provide a revealing test for the 2015-16 squad.
Playing in Division I venues is a far different experience than taking on opponents in the Lady Bulldogs home gym, Fred Delay Gymnasium. For a comparison, The Fred holds 2,200 fans when at capacity. In contrast, LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center holds 13,215 spectators. However, the differences don’t stop there. The SEC arenas come adorned with video boards along and above the courts as well as marching bands behind the goals, just to name a few.
The big lights might be a shock for some of the Lady Bulldogs, but for one they are all too familiar. Carnecia Williams, a junior transfer from Mississippi State, has played in these gyms for the last two years, and that experience certainly has its advantages.
Although games against the elite college basketball teams in the country seem like a morale killer to those on the outside, Coach Campbell likened it to an “impossible mountain to climb” said it shows his team what needs improvement.
“Ultimately, I think it accomplishes what we want it to accomplish,” Campbell said. “People are going to have better players than us. They are going to be taller, going to be faster, and stronger … and that exposes our weaknesses.”
Although the Lady Bulldogs lost both contests versus SEC teams, they won their other exhibition match against Division III Rhodes College, 87-63. Union kicks off conference play Dec. 3 at 6 p.m., hosting Shorter.
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