Despite double-double performances from senior forward Joyner Holmes and sophomore center Charli Collier, Texas fell to South Florida in a tough road game last Friday night.
“Friday was a learning experience for us in Tampa, and I really thought that it would be,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “What I probably didn’t think about until we actually landed, went to practice, went through the routine was that (it) was a lot of our players’ first road trip.”
The loss was disappointing because the Longhorns could have controlled some of the things that went wrong. Growing pains with newcomers combined with select players taking on different positions were both additional contributing factors. However, the head coach moved on from the defeat quickly and encouraged her team to do the same.
“‘First of all, it’s one game,’” Aston said she told the players. “‘We’ve got a long way to go with the season.’”
With the season-opening loss at South Florida in the past, the Longhorns now look forward to their matchups against UT-San Antonio on Thursday and Arizona on Sunday.
“(I’m) excited again about playing at home,” Aston said. “UTSA will be a challenge for us, and then Arizona coming in here on Sunday is going to be a gigantic challenge.”
The upcoming contests will present opportunities for players like Collier to further develop and accumulate game minutes. The coaching staff appreciated the center’s increased contribution against South Florida, and they want to see more of it.
“Everyday she’ll get better,” Aston said. “Just the reps of the game, and the feeling of what that feels like to push herself in a game and then regroup mentally and refocus.”
Both UTSA and Arizona are physical teams that will look to take advantage of the Longhorns who struggled with turnovers and shooting in their first game. Texas shot 1 for 9 from three against South Florida. The team will have to adjust for both matchups and will have to play as well as they practice to be competitive.
“We have to figure out how to be a lot tougher and a lot more physical,” Aston said. “And again, play that line of not fouling.”
Arizona is the reigning WNIT champion, boasting both size and speed throughout their roster. However, the team cannot look past Thursday’s matchup against a UTSA team that forced 30 turnovers in its first game. The Roadrunners’ ability to get up and down the court with ease will test the Longhorns’ discipline.
“We need to make sure that we handle the pressure that they’ll put on us and try to discipline ourselves to be able to really get the ball inside,” Aston said. “ I think we have an advantage in the paint, and we’re really going to have to use it against them.”
Texas will look to secure its first win of the season when game action against UTSA tips off Thursday at 7 p.m.