Lindsey Huffman’s Lady Eagles (9-10, 4-3) and Jason Gillespie’s Eagles (7-8, 4-2) each sit one game below .500, though both possess winning records in the AAC.
Both teams have benefited from a three-game winning streak at different points, and been victimized by a five-game losing streak, leaving the coaches with feelings of inconsistency.
“We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, and plenty of challenges,” Huffman said. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity.”
“We have been a little up and down, inconsistent,” Gillespie said. “We are fighting a battle of continuity. Sometimes, we do a pretty good job as a team, but, other times, we revert back to old habits.”
Gillespie and Huffman agreed on which aspect of coaching their new teams proved to be the most difficult — managing their squads.
“As a brand-new coach, you have to mesh a lot of different backgrounds and personalities,” Huffman said. “Any time you’re asking a group of girls you really don’t know and haven’t coached before to work harder, change their mentality and break their habits, it is always going to be a challenge. You never know how much until you get in there and get your hands dirty.”
“We have some new guys in a completely new system that requires you to trust your teammates,” Gillespie said, who prefers to rotate his players frequently rather than leave them on the court for extended periods of time. “Sometimes, guys are a little selfish about playing time — they want to be out there 100 percent of the time. The way we play, you can’t do that. You have to trust your teammates to come in and take your place for a few minutes. Sometimes, we do a pretty good job of it, but from time to time, guys will revert back to being a bit selfish.”
Despite the challenges the two coaches have had to overcome, they are both content with where their teams are sitting in the conference.
The men are tied with Virginia Intermont for third place in the AAC, only one game behind Tennessee Wesleyan. The women are in a three-way tie with Bryan and Montreat for fourth, two games back of Milligan.
With the Eagles having 10 games left in their conference schedule, and the Lady Eagles 11, Gillespie and Huffman believe they can still challenge for the conference’s regular-season title.
“We’re in this thing,” Gillespie said. “I believe that the goal of every coach is to win a conference title, and I truly think that it is a realistic one for us. How we adjust to our losses is going to be paramount.”
“Where we stand in the conference is really what it’s all about,” Huffman said, whose team has won three AAC games in a row. “We played great in some of our early conference games, and it was important for us to get a good feeling from those, but we know that the meat of our schedule is now. We’ve played some tough teams, but the girls are getting a handle on things right now, and we are
Both of Reinhardt’s squads will have a chance to better their conference records tonight when they host Bryan.