BY MAKENNA ALLEN
It’s nearly two weeks later than originally planned but the women’s basketball team will finally tip off the 2020-2021 season at Gross Memorial Coliseum tonight at 5:30. The Tigers will face the Washburn Ichabods in a game rescheduled from the original season opener date of Nov. 19.
The initial match-up between the two teams was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols when the test results for the Tigers were finalized prior to the game. This development also meant the postponement of the Tigers’ second game against Emporia State that was set to take place Nov. 21. This game has also been rescheduled and will be held in Hays, Tues. Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m.
These regular season games were not the only ones affected by the schedule alteration due to protocol. Indeed, the women’s basketball team cancelled its annual exhibition against Kansas State University that was set to take place in Hays. As both teams progress in their regular seasons, the exhibition against the Wildcats will not be rescheduled.
Rather, the Tigers must focus on the MIAA opponent for this Tuesday evening. As the Tigers prepare to tip off against the Washburn Ichabods tonight, their primary excitement arises from finally being able to take the court this season.
“It’s been a long haul to get to this point and we’re just happy to get that behind us and get ready to play a game and see where we’re at and where we need to go from here,” head coach, Tony Hobson, said. “You can only do things in practice so many times against each other.”
Though the Tigers have been practicing against each other, they haven’t been able to do much of that while following protocols for returning players to the game. According to Hobson, the team has had just three real practices after eight days of rest. This fact, along with the typical first game of the season jitters leave Hobson some qualms regarding tonight’s match-up.
“Just like most times when you T it up the first time of the year, there’s a little bit of an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach right now, I know that,” Hobson said.
When the Tigers take the court tonight, some of Hobson’s main area of focus lies on inside play from freshmen and being able to rebound the ball. While the Tigers work to bring their relatively young team to full strength this season, the Ichabods work towards a similar goal.
“Similar to us, they had five or six seniors that played a lot and graduated, just like we did. I think they play good D and they rebound well and they look physical to me,” Hobson said. “I think they’re kind of like us. They’re trying to figure out what they’ve got right now and it’s awfully early in the season to try and do that.”
The season is indeed young as the Ichabods are looking for their first victory after falling 62-52 to Nebraska-Kearney, Sat. Nov 21. The last time the two teams met, the Tigers defeated the Ichabods 74-61. Tonight, the Tigers hope to extend their nine-game winning streak against the Ichabods to double digits. Indeed, Wasburn last defeated Fort Hays on the Tigers’ home court in 2013.
In addition to this string of victories, Fort Hays also sits above the Washburn team at fifth place in the MIAA Coaches Preseason Poll. Washburn is currently voted eighth.
After their makeup game against the Tigers tonight, the team will return to Topeka to face Central Oklahoma on Thursday.
The Tigers will also quickly begin to prepare for their next game on the road. The Tigers will travel to Kearney on Saturday to take on the Loper team that recently defeated Washburn.
There are several ways to support the women’s basketball team in their games this week. Tickets for the women’s original season-opener remain good for the game tonight in Gross Memorial, as well as for the rescheduled game against Emporia. Alternatively, tune in to the MIAA Network to watch any game from the comfort of your own home.