The Lady Eagles have finished the toughest part of their schedule, leaving the team in a better position than it seems.
The Lady Eagles have had the best start to the season since the 2014-2015 season and have obviously bounced back from last year’s disappointing season. The Lady Eagles finished 3-5 in the stretch of games from Mississippi State to Texas-San Antonio. In that span, the Lady Eagles walked away from some tough losses but found themselves a good position in conference play.
Southern Miss learned a lot about themselves in this stretch of games. When Brittanny Dinkins has a good day, then the rest of the team will more often than not follow her example. Dinkins is the team leader and her leadership is a catalyst of how the team plays. It has been obvious that in her poorer performances — the team tends to suffer.
Yet at the same time, the team has players who are not scared to step up. Jayla King, Keri Jewett-Giles and Megan Brown all have moments of brilliance, they have all played a major supporting role throughout that entire stretch of games, including the entire season.
The biggest emergence of this team is freshman Shonte Hailes. Hailes has posted four double-digit games in a row and in her last game posted her first career double-double against Texas-El Paso. Hailes has slowly emerged as one of the most important starters next to Dinkins. Although it took time, her ability to understand the offense has been imperative for her success. Hailes has no doubt defined herself as a key cog to the future of the team.
Another impactful player has been freshman Respect Leaphart. Although her stats do not exactly show that she is the best defensive player off the bench, her understanding of the team’s defensive scheme has also showed that she will play an important role in the team’s future.
The Lady Eagles are some days the best team in the conference, the next day the worst. The success for the team all depends on the teams’ shooting. The Lady Eagles have struggled immensely on trying to keep their shooting percentage over 40 percent. However, in their last two games the shooting has improved immensely and has helped spark their two-game winning streak.
The team, now at 10-5, has put themselves in a perfect situation to walk away with a conference championship. The team has yet to really face a team that is of their caliber. For example, Mississippi State, Cal and Xavier are all teams that are of high quality, but at the same time they have faced team that are subpar such as UTSA, Mississippi Valley State and etc.
Charlotte (12-3), who is currently top dog in the conference, will be the first true test for the Lady Eagles in conference play. If the Lady Eagles take them down, then beating Western Kentucky and Marshall are by far obtainable.
Like any team, the Lady Eagles hold their future in their own hands. This is a team that has figured out how to play with each other and know how to play off of their strengths and how to fix their weaknesses. This is a team that is setting themselves up for not just the postseason but a successful one. Anything is possible for this team.