On Friday afternoon, the top twelve teams in Atlantic 10 women’s basketball, including the Charlotte 49ers, will descend on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University–specifically Hagan Arena in Philadelphia–for the opening rounds of the A-10 tournament. It’s a little different this year–the entire tournament won’t be played at one site like in previous years, just the opening round, quarterfinals and semifinals; the championship game, the ultimate goal, will be at the sparkling new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
So, the road to Brooklyn actually begins 100 miles south–in the Wynnefield neighborhood of Philadelphia. But don’t think for a second the Niners are taking any upcoming opponents for granted. If we’ve learned anything from coach Cara Consuegra throughout the course of her career, it’s about “winning the day”, taking everything one game at a time and no further.
This weekend, they’ll have to win two days thanks to a second-place finish and a first-round bye. Saturday, they’ll take on either seventh-seeded Xavier or tenth-seeded Temple in a game that should figure to draw some cherry-and-white clad Owls fans to their Big 5 rival’s home court. (By the way, it’s about five and a half miles from Hagan Arena to the Liacouras Center.)
If they win Saturday, they’ll play in Sunday’s semifinals against either Fordham, Butler or Saint Louis. The only blemish on the Niners’ 13-1 conference record? That would be thanks to the Rams.
A win on Sunday means a trip to Brooklyn for the championship game next Saturday. If things go according to form, they’ll be facing Dayton. But it’s tournament time. Anything can happen. Even the big, bad Flyers–#12 in the country and assured a spot in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens–can be beaten, right?
I was able to get some thoughts from Josh Feldman, the voice of the Niners, in advance of this weekend’s action–here’s what he had to say:
For the most part, I think this team has the talent be in Brooklyn against Dayton on March 16, but–as we’ve seen all season–it’s a matter of maintaining the necessary effort and energy level that will determine if this team gets there. The exciting thing is that the last week has shown that if a team “shuts down” Jenn Hailey (and for her, being shut down means she winds up with 8 pts and 7 reb, which most players would take ANY day), Charlotte has enough other options not only to be okay, but to be dominant in stretches. No one that we’ve seen in this conference has been able to play her straight up without getting burned for it. And Amanda (Dowe)’s A10 POTW award shows just how potent the other players are.
WEDNESDAY: A look at the rest of the field and their chances going into the tournament.