Tara feels our preseason schedule may be the toughest in the nation. We're playing eight teams that made it into the NCAA Tournament last season and two that made it to the Elite Eight - Texas and Indiana.
I've already covered our tough second game of the season against the Longhorns, and our games against Gonzaga and Portland. This week we'll get into our fifth game of the preseason against the Indiana Hoosiers. Last season was their best in modern memory. They made it all the way to the Elite Eight before falling to Arizona in a hard fought battle 66 to 53. They have strong team chemistry and play great together.
This season they'll have all their starters back plus a highly experienced grad transfer from Georgia, Caitlin Hose. Two of their returnees are All Americans, junior 6'-3" post player Mackenzie Holmes (17.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds) and 6' senior guard Grace Berger (15.4 points per game and 6.8 rebounds).
Grace was a member of the FIBA Americup team, along with Haley Jones, that won Gold Medals down in Puerto Rico. I'd like to hear from Haley what she thought of Grace Berger - watching her play she seems super competitive and effective. You should dial up their NCAA Tournament game with N.C. State on YouTube to get a taste of how intense this group of Hoosiers are to play against. N.C. State was the number one seed in their region until they were eliminated by the Hoosiers. In several games of the NCAA Tournament the Hoosiers had all their starters in double figures and typically dominated the points in the paint.
We're playing Indiana in the Baha Mar Thanksgiving Tournament in the Bahamas. They will be our first game on Thanksgiving Thursday. Stanford is the only team in the tournament that will play three games in three days - because the USF Lady Bulls are scheduled to play Stanford in the only game being played on Friday and the Bulls aren't even involved in the Baha Mar Tournament.
USF is playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament that finishes up four days earlier at the Atlantis resort fifty miles away. Then they're driving over to play Stanford on Friday.
Our Saturday opponent is a top ten ranked Maryland team, and like all the other teams in the tournament, they get the day off on Friday. Our players will have had two tough games and resulting tired legs going into battle with the Terrapins. All day Friday the turtles will be laying around the pool, while our players are locked in an intense contest with a determined and well-rested bunch of Lady Bulls from South Florida.
I'll review the Bulls and the Terrapins next week. I know we play three games in three days in the PAC12 Tournament, but all the teams play at least three games in three days.
AS YOU WELL KNOW, I LOVE THIS CARDINAL TEAM!!
DO WE HAVE ENOUGH DEPTH TO PLAY THESE THREE STRONG RESTED TEAMS ON THREE CONSECUTIVE DAYS? I HOPE SO! GUESS WE'LL FIND OUT!